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Where the Bluebird Sings to the Lemonade Springs
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Where the Bluebird Sings to the Lemonade Springs

4.06 of 5 stars 4.06  ·  rating details  ·  1,080 ratings  ·  80 reviews
Nominated for a National Book Critics Circle award, Where the Bluebird Sings to the Lemonade Springs: Living and Writing in the West gathers together Wallace Stegner’s most important and memorable writings on the American West: its landscapes, diverse history, and shifting identity; its beauty, fragility, and power. With subjects ranging from the writer’s own “migrant chil ...more
Hardcover, 227 pages
Published March 24th 1992 by Random House (first published 1992)
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My father is Australian, my mother is from St. Louis, I grew up in the Philippines, I went to a few years of college in Chicago before running out of money and dropping out, and I currently live in Atlanta among immigrants and refugees. So when I read Wendell Berry's essays on a sense of place, his ideals evoked a real hunger in me to feel placed, but his example would have been absurd for me to try and follow.

Stegner, who taught Wendell Berry at Stanford, read all of his work seriously, and cor
What's not to like about Wallace Stegner? He's a brilliant writer, an activist, a great teacher and mentor, and a literary gem of the West. This collection of essays examines our relationship with the natural world, the rise of the environmental movement, commentary on other great writers, and, my personal favorite, a letter to his mother "much too late," written when he was an old man. That an old man can still look back at his life and admire his mother with such tenderness and honesty says he ...more
I really loved this thoughtful collection of essays on living and writing in the West. Written in 1990, I wonder what Stegner would think now about the rate at which we exchange information. I particularly loved his essay on Sense of Place:

“The deep ecologists warn us not to be anthropocentric, but I know no way to look at the world, settled or wild, except through my own human eyes. I know that is wasn't created especially for my use, and I share the guilt for what members of my species, espec
If you're a fan of Wallace Stegner or simply love living or visiting the West, this is the book for you. Stegner's beautiful words bring with them a sense of the beauty, the desolation, the destruction, and the fragility of the West.

The book is divided into three parts. The first is a personal note from Stegner, not only to the West that he loves but to his mother as well. If you've read his semi-autobiography, The Big Rock Candy Mountain, you'll know what trials she went through with her more
This is Stegner’s final book and is an excellent collection of essays about life, the West, writers and writing. What he says about literature and good writing comes close to expressing what I feel about good writing and reading. He wants writers to write from their own experiences and write in their own way and not be bound by someone else’s concept of method. “What literature is supposed to be…at its best is a bolt of lightning from me to you, a flash of recognition and feeling within the cont ...more
Really 4.5 stars. This was my first venture into Stegner and I am so glad I picked it up!

It is a collection of essays he wrote regarding growing up, living and writing in the West. When I started it I didn't have the intention of reading it all the way through, but to pick it up and read an essay once in a while. However, once I got started I didn't really want to stop.

The first section made me want to go out into the wilderness and go camping, hiking and fishing. The second half made me want
Sherry (sethurner)
Wallace Stegner is one of my favorite writers, whether writing fiction or nonfiction. I purchased this book to read on a long train trip home from Seattle to Wisconsin, and it turned out to be perfect for that trip through the high plains. This slim volume is a collection of essays covering a variety of subjects, his life, the geology and ecology of the West, analysis of his own writing and of other writers who wrote in or about the West. His writing is always clear, intelligent and straight for ...more
LC-CIP (Library of Congress Cataloging-in-publication)
Dewey = 813.52 (American Literature)
subjects :
1. Sterner, Wallace Early--Homes and haunts*--West (U.S.)
2. Authors, American--2oth century--Biography
3. West (U.S.)--Description and travel
4. West (U.S.) in literature.

Perhaps, libraries, instead of shelving the Stegner book in the Dewey 813's, it could be put in the biographies. Likely get more attention from browsers there. In an affluent, spacious library, perhaps a third copy in the 978s.

Apr 11, 2013 Dan rated it 5 of 5 stars  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: Westerners
Yes, the power of place. I've lived in the west all my life, but I fell in love with the west when I read this book. Stegner is ... I got nothing. Just read this book if you are a westerner or wish to understand one. I had all these feelings about the west, Utah in particular. Stegner helped me articulate them.

First Reading July 2005
Second Reading April 2013
Monte Dutton
Stegner is among my favorite authors, a man whose writing, like the music of Gram Parsons, never reached me until after his death. I ran across him because he taught and influenced and crossed paths with Tom Wolfe, and Ken Kesey, and Larry McMurtry, and others.
Personally, this book is a "4." Much of it is about writing, and I found its advice insightful. Taking it as a collection of essays, that's where I got my "3."
I found all of it interesting, but I languished a bit reading of the profound e
The personal essays are lovely and powerful, especially "Crossing Into Eden." The essays on the people and land of the West are often insightful, though Stegner becomes repetitive on certain themes (e.g., the importance of the West's aridity in the shaping of its culture). The third section of the book, "Witnesses," could just as well have been called "Miscellaneous," and there was a lot of stuff in there that didn't resonate with me. (A critical essay on a short story by Steinbeck? I'd rather h ...more
I rate this as a five star not because it's a page-turner, but because if you are from the American West you cannot but help to be moved by Stegner's words. There are little gems in here that deserve to be reread every now and again.
Dorothy Quate
In Stegner's own words to match the landscape:

Vibrant wide angle view of the West and its forever enchantment to those of us who live here and those who wish they did!
Bonnye Reed
I like to re-read this book every few years, but the copy at my Library has been stolen or lost, and I didn't get my Wallace Stegner fix this fall. My children surprised me with the top 5 books from my Amazon wish list, so I have been reveling in great books!

Wallace Stegner is a wonderful writer, and I try to live up to his advice in these collected short essays and lectures from over the years concerning the proper husbandry of our nation, our planet. He explains in detail the powers and limit
Steven Howes
Anyone interested in the American West should read this book. Even persons who are not serious students of history will find this book a very informative and engaging read. Through a number of essays, the author discusses his thoughts about what makes the West unique from other parts of the country, what characterizes people as "westerners", and brief synopses of the natural, political, and conservation history of the area west of the 100th meridian. The last part of the book discusses the effec ...more
This book helped explain to me why I love the writing of Wallace Stegner and Wendell Berry so much. The writing of each is shaped so much by a sense of place, whether that of a river town in rural Kentucky or the arid west. Neither is like the places I've lived but they help me also become a placed person, to understand that who I am is shaped by where I am.

This book is a collection of Stegner's essays that include some autobiographical material about the spaces in which he grew up. For me, the
I enjoyed this set of essays much more than I anticipated. This was my first foray into Stegner and I'm ready for his fiction. His writing was accessible but also deep and instructive. These previously published essays are divided into three sections. The first section is a biographical section that was quite interesting as it told of his early life and deprivations. The second section is about the West as a place and included writings on public lands, environmentalism, government bureaus that o ...more
A series of essays and reflections by Wallace Stegner on his childhood, how living in the arid west molds individuals, on some fellow authors, their works, and the process/effort/limitations of writing.

Two of my favorite essays were, "A Migrant Childhood" and "A Letter to Wendell Berry." Stegner presents the reader with gift, in this case a gift of insight into how one's childhood shapes the adult, and how to be gracious to another.

He probably explains as well as I've ever come across why the We
Wallace Stegner writes believable, luscious fiction. His metaphors and similes sometimes sink clear into my bones, and I re-read a phrase over and over again for the beauty and creativity of the thought and words. But this book is a collection of his essays on "Living and Writing in the West". As a professor of literature and writing at the U of Utah, he used his love for the West to teach some future famous environmentalists, including Edward Abbey. These essays often focus on his theme of envi ...more
Delway Burton
I have known of Stegner for a long time, even started An Angle of Repose, but was impatient and read no more than two or three chapters. This collection of essays was recommended to me by a friend and I was not disappointed. The direction of most of the pieces is environmental and historical, dealing with the settling of the American West (beyond the 90th Meridian). He takes the long view and puts America's expansion and our obsession with controlling nature in their proper perspective, beyond t ...more
Joe Dobrow
Favorite quotes from Where the Blue Sings to the Lemonade Springs:

And yet there is something to the notion of western independence; there is something about living in big empty space, where people are few and distant, under a great sky that is alternately serene and furious, exposed to the sun from four in the morning till nine at night, and to a wind that never seems to rest -- there is something about exposure to that big country that not only tells an individual how small he is, but steadily
I seem to be reading through various Wallace Stegner books in a good order for me. He wrote a lot of fiction and a lot of non-fiction. This is a collection of essays about the West. It includes a lot about his personal life as well as reviews about other Western authors. He wrote this book when he was 80 which brings a neat perspective to everything. This book turned me on to many other books that I want to read now.
Sean Van
This is an interesting book, and personally has been something of a guide in formulating my own thinking about the west and my place within it, both as a person and a writer. The book includes a number of essays, which, despite varying in the degrees with which they deal with history, biography, and literature, all gravitate towards the west and Stegner's personal experience of the same. I particularly love his discussion of Norman Maclean.
A collection of essays about living and writing in the West. Stegner is an environmentalist who deplores the attempts to remake the West in the image of the rest of the county. He appreciates the culture of the West which is based on aridity, open space, and restlessness. He reviews some of the significant books and ideas of writers who are anchored in the West.
Stegner is a master of understanding and communicating what is unique about the American west. His understanding comes from his own life experience as a child whose parents followed the "boom" times and moved on when the "bust" came. We've seen this, too, with the gas/oil debacle of the late '80's and now with the real estate situation and the overbuilding cycles.
Stegner's father tended to be on the losing end most of the time, but his mother kept the family civilized by refusing to let the pia
Non fiction collection of essays on living and writing in the west. It takes its name from a line from the old hobo song The Big Rock Candy Mountains about a fantasy land of plenty which Stegner uses as a metaphor for the West, through which he and his family traveled nearly as hoboes traveling from one failed enterprise to another during his youth. After settling in Salt Lake City, where he went to high school, the first in his family to do so, he went on to college. He writes about living in a ...more
The first and third essays and the letter to Wendell Berry were my favorites. But throughout, Stegner's love of place is evident- as he eloquently describes his relationship with the west and himself as a product of it.
Jeffrey McCord
Jun 22, 2007 Jeffrey McCord rated it 4 of 5 stars  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: Lovers of the Western states, Stegner fans, naturalists, environmentalists
Stegner approaches the vast, often prickly subject of the West from several angles--that of a novelist, a naturalist, an environmentalist, a defender, an objective observer, all poignant but uncynical. The thread that strings these dozen or so essays together is the tenous nature of modern settlements there. From land use, to logging, to nearly a century of irresponsible water engineering wreaking havoc on the landscape, Stegner attempts to balance his love for the region with a sort of existent ...more
I will pretty much read anything and everything Wallace Stegnar writes. This is a lovely book of essays that made me think about the West, water, and Mormonism in a totally different way. The only reason it doesn't get 5 stars is because his message gets a little old. The West, it's sacred, it doesn't have a lot of water, our current treatment of the land isn't sustainable, we get it. Still, some lovely, lovely essays that should be read in a hammock in the backyard, or on the shores of a river ...more
A collection of Stegner's writings on the American West ranging from his own personal experiences to essays on other western writers. Whether I agreed with him or not (often not in the Habitat section) he presents his subject beautifully. I enjoy his humor and appreciate his passion for the subject. I am a native of the American West and most of his essays resonate. I recognize where he is and what he is talking about. Haunted by Waters: Norman Maclean was my absolute favorite. I loved Stegner's ...more
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More Literary Criticism 2 10 Jun 18, 2008 06:40PM  
  • Wallace Stegner and the American West
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  • The Solace of Open Spaces
  • The Serpents of Paradise: A Reader
  • About This Life
  • The Land of Little Rain
  • The Secret Knowledge of Water
  • The Anthropology of Turquoise: Reflections on Desert, Sea, Stone, and Sky
  • Wilderness and the American Mind
  • The River of the Mother of God: and other Essays by Aldo Leopold
  • Winter: Notes from  Montana
  • This House of Sky: Landscapes of a Western Mind
  • Grizzly Years: In Search of the American Wilderness
  • The Exploration of the Colorado River and Its Canyons
  • Everett Ruess: A Vagabond for Beauty/ Wilderness Journals Combination Edition
  • The Legacy of Conquest: The Unbroken Past of the American West
  • The Island Within
  • Practice of the Wild
Wallace Earle Stegner (February 18, 1909—April 13, 1993) was an American historian, novelist, short story writer, and environmentalist. Some call him "The Dean of Western Writers."
More about Wallace Stegner...
Angle of Repose Crossing to Safety The Big Rock Candy Mountain The Spectator Bird Beyond the Hundredth Meridian: John Wesley Powell and the Second Opening of the West

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“The deep ecologists warn us not to be anthropocentric, but I know no way to look at the world, settled or wild, except through my own human eyes. I know that is wasn't created especially for my use, and I share the guilt for what members of my species, especially the migratory ones, have done to it. But I am the only instrument that I have access to by which I can enjoy the world and try to understand it. So I must believe that, at least to human perception, a place is not a place until people have been born in it, have grown up in it, have lived in it, known it, died in it--have both experienced and shaped it, as individuals, families, neighborhoods, and communities, over more than one generation. Some are born in their place, some find it, some realize after long searching that the place they left is the one they have been searching for. But whatever their relation to it, it is made a place only by slow accrual, like a coral reef.” 6 likes
“It is not an unusual life curve for Westerners - to live i n and be shaped by the bigness, sparseness, space clarity & hopefulness of the West, to go away for study and enlargement and the perspective that distance and dissatisfaction can give, and then to return to what pleases the sight and enlists the loyalty and demands the commitment.” 3 likes
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