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Where the Bluebird Sings to the Lemonade Springs

4.09  ·  Rating details ·  1,586 ratings  ·  131 reviews
Nominated for a National Book Critics Circle award, Where the Bluebird Sings to the Lemonade Springs 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 childhood” to the need to protect wh ...more
Paperback, 234 pages
Published April 9th 2002 by Modern Library (first published 1992)
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Nov 08, 2013 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
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
Apr 24, 2013 rated it really liked it
Shelves: non-fiction
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
Mar 21, 2015 rated it it was amazing
Wallace Stegner is just such a brilliant writer, and such a thoughtful man. This wide-ranging collection of essays about the west rings true on many levels for those of us who live here. It is the personal essays that I liked the most -- his tribute to his long-dead mother, for example. I'm always surprised when people haven't heard of this incredible guy. He died in 1993. What a loss that was to literature, the west, and the world.
Sep 18, 2009 rated it it was amazing
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
Mar 24, 2013 rated it it was amazing
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
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
Jun 06, 2008 rated it it was amazing
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
Aug 11, 2018 rated it really liked it
To read a collection of essays, I find I have to put my mind to it. It helps that the book was borrowed and I wanted to return it. But I originally found Stegner in a used bookstore in Fremont, Seattle some years back and wanted to read something of his.

The essays were about his upbringing, the West, the pragmatic spirituality of the land, water rights and the development of the West, environmentalism, and writers of the West, writers like Wendell Berry and Aldo Leopold (Sand County Almanac) --
Apr 28, 2018 rated it really liked it
This collection of essays starts out as strongly as any book I've read in a while. The Introduction and then the opening section of essays are so sharp and so moving that you feel like a new door is opening to your understanding of America. Really. My lifetime overlapped with Wallace Stegner for probably 35 years, and I've lived in the same country, sometimes within miles of where he lived. And yet, his experience is so different, so intense, so lonely (at times) and filled with awe of nature (a ...more
Will Weaver
Jan 21, 2018 rated it it was amazing
Wallace Stegner (1909-1993) was a novelist and writer of the West. He's an old dead white guy, true, but his writing is very much alive, and deserves a look--especially if you are a would-be writer.

Background: Stegner was born in Iowa, but started the creative writing program at Stanford University in the early 1960's, one of the first such writing workshops in the country. The Stegner Fellowship at Stanford is one of the most sought-after prizes for young writers. If that is a sure legacy for S
Jul 15, 2010 rated it really liked it
Shelves: nonfiction
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
Oct 12, 2016 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: library-books
Also suggested by a friend from college. I hadn't ever read anything by Stegner. There are some gaps in even my books. I will read more by him. He writes very well for starters and he writes very well about the Southwest. Where I lived for some time. He captures what the life is like there, the geography and the differences from the East. And how the East was trying to replicate what the East was like in the West. And so forth. Some of his essays are better than others and sometimes I get bogged ...more
Mar 24, 2009 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: i-own
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
Aug 10, 2017 rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
I don't think I was well suited to this one. It's technically proficient, but I saw little that interested me. The ecology seemed obvious, and he romanticized the West similar to how he accused others of doing. He decried what others were doing without acknowledging that he was just advocating a smaller scale of the same thing. Frankly, it sounded a bit too "get off my lawn" and seemed as if he wanted newcomers to leave him alone in his paradise. The piece on his mom was probably the best, but s ...more
Jan 23, 2013 rated it really liked it
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
Nov 03, 2016 rated it liked it
Sagebrush is an acquired taste.

Nothing superlative or enchanting should be easily accessible.

I admire and respect Wallace Stegner for his literary genius and for his life as a teacher of writing who has influenced many other great writers, among them one of my all time favorites, Edward Abbey. But more than that, I respect him for his devotion and activism to protect what remains of the wilderness and wild places of the western United States.

A very good collection of essays about living and wr
Jan 30, 2009 rated it it was amazing
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.
Aug 12, 2015 rated it really liked it
Some of these are Stegner at his best, and some are only three stars. But it's still worthwhile.
Alexsandra Stewart
Jun 04, 2012 rated it it was amazing
Quintessential Stegner. His migrant childhood gave me insight to my own migrations and why as much as I love the east, it's the west that feels like home
Margaret Walters
Apr 17, 2015 rated it it was amazing
Wonderful - love all Wallace Stegner's writing.
Dorothy Quate
Apr 17, 2010 rated it really liked it
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!
Joe Dobrow
Nov 02, 2013 rated it it was amazing
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
Jun 30, 2017 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
While I could put it down for 6 months without reading a page, I did enjoy the stories in this book that I picked up second hand in a store in an Islamabad mall. While some of the stories about the author's life and experiences and his thoughts on the West are from 'long' ago, I still felt the resonance of what he had to say especially as it comes to water use. Please don't waste it.
The last portion of the book is interesting although very different. I felt like I was in a literature class (whi
Mar 06, 2018 rated it really liked it
I didn't finish this collection of essays but I read most of this book while on a 9 week roadtrip through the American west in 2017.

While we've been traveling I've been reading a collection of essays by Wallace Stegner, an award-winning and distinguished western writer, historian and novelist of the 20th century. I am thoroughly enjoying his non-fiction writing about wilderness, aridity (the defining feature of the American west), and western history.

His insight's have given some language and co
tonia peckover
Apr 30, 2018 rated it really liked it
The book is subtitled "Living and Writing in the West" which is an accurate description. The book is in three pieces - Stegner's own life in the West, a mild diatribe against Western mythologies (Stegner is a longtime favorite for his plain speech and clear vision and he doesn't disappoint here with some very good analysis of real Western life. There's a tremendous section on water rights, stockmen, and ranchers that feels incredibly prescient in light of the recent Malheur occupation,) and an e ...more
Apr 25, 2018 rated it it was amazing
A book of the history of the western U. S although the southern part of Saskatchewan it touched upon. W. Stegner talks about the land, the life styles in this area, the destruction of the land and water and then dissects many books written by others writing about these topics and in some cases how he knows these writers. He mentions a few artists but not Charles Russell which surprised me. It seems the Canadian west like the U. S west is mainly considered an area to supply the eastern part of th ...more
John Majors
Sep 04, 2017 rated it liked it
Stegner is one of my favorite novelists. This being his first collection of essays I've read, I was pleasantly surprised. Similar to Wendell Berry's "What are People For?" with a western slant. Worth reading for his letter to Berry alone and for his analysis of "A River Runs Through it" and how the aridity of the west and water rights has shaped the people who reside there. Probably not for everyone, but if you like Stegner or Berry or both, check it out.
Jun 19, 2018 rated it really liked it
A fantastic collection of essays detailing what Wallace Stegner cares about: life, the West, and writing. I especially loved the first section of personal essays about his childhood and the final essay in the last section titled The Law of Nature and the Dream of Man. The middle section was less engaging but still informational and the final section was essays about other Western writers, and I gathered several book suggestions from a master.
Chris Leuchtenburg
Reading this book, I learned more about Stegner than I did about the West or environmentalism. If fact, what comes across most strongly is his literary focus. He is a wonderful writer, but repurposed magazine articles like these leave me wanting more.
Jun 23, 2018 rated it really liked it
No one writes about the west like Wallace Stegner does. His love for it pours off his pages.
Everywhere else seems gentler, older and softer after one has lived in and traveled all over the
western landscape.
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More Literary Criticism 2 10 Jun 18, 2008 06:40PM  
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Wallace Earle Stegner was an American historian, novelist, short story writer, and environmentalist. Some call him "The Dean of Western Writers." He won the Pulitzer Prize in 1972 and the U.S. National Book Award in 1977.
“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.” 9 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.” 8 likes
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