Stephen's Reviews > Angle of Repose

Angle of Repose by Wallace Stegner
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M 50x66
's review
Dec 21, 2008

it was amazing
Read in January, 2009

Interesting, sometimes very moving. Stegner has a lot on his mind in this deceptively straightforward story. Young woman born of and loved by the eastern elite (when there still was such a thing) marries a man of the west, an engineer who wants to tame and civilize the wild country. The story is of his failures, her accommodations and their marriage. Simple enough. But on top of the story of this story Stegner adds stretches of western history, glimpses of Mexican grandees, insights into hard rock mining, sketches of western towns, especially Leadville, Colorado, and vignettes of other ordinary western characters. Contrasted with all this is the California of 1970 in the person of the cranky narrator and his radical professor son. The book is a long musing, really, captured in the narrator's phrase, the west of his grandmother has as much to do with the California of today as the island of Santorin as to do with the sea that covers it. The book won a Pulitzer in 1970, and it is easy to understand that it must have felt more urgent then than it does now. Still, it is a wonderful book.
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