One of the finest American authors of the 20th century, Wallace Stegner compiled an impressive collection of accolades during his lifetime, including a Pulitzer Prize for Fiction, a National Book Award, and three O. Henry Awards. His final novel, Crossing to Safety is the quiet yet stirring tale of two couples that meet during the Great Depression and form a lifelong bond.More
"This is a wonderfully rich, warm, and affecting book." (Library Journal)
"It's deceptively simple: two bright young couples meet during the Depression and form an instant and lifelong friendship. "How do you make a book that anyone will read out of lives as quiet as these?" Larry Morgan, a successful novelist and the narrator of the story, poses that question many years after he and his wife, Sally, have befriended the vibrant, wealthy, and often troubled Sid and Charity Lang. "Where is the high life, the conspicuous waste, the violence, the kinky sex, the death wish?" It's not here. What is here is just as fascinating, just as compelling, as touching, and as tragic." (Amazon.com review)
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A Gem to be Savoured
- C. P. McGregor
A lesson to aspiring writers
Exquisitely crafted prose
The reading almost spoiled this beautiful book for me. Not only was it dull and expressionless but they chose a reader whose rough gritty voice would be more suited to a Cormack McCarthy depiction of death and evil than a sensitive novel about peoples' feelings.
This novel is so beautifully written I actually copied out some passages just so I could come back and admire them.
Choose this book if you enjoy fine observation of realistic characters, reflection rather than events. You don't need to know what it's about, though you have probably seen a summary saying it's about the relationship between two couples. That doesn't matter. What matters is the way he writes about them. When the couples are about to meet for the first time, the narrator rings the doorbell and devotes half a page of discussion to the meaning of pressing the button. The meeting itself generates a longer essay.
The writing is almost as reflective as Proust and indeed early in the book the narrator says he is going for a walk to do a little recherche du temps perdu. If you like the reflective style (of the two dramatic events in the book, one is described with more reflection than drama and the other he actually skips with the cheeky comment that this isn't an adventure novel) you will find it here in its finest style. To give a good feel for it would make this review overly long but here is a tiny bit from the meeting I mentioned above:
"We wandered into their orderly Newtonian universe a couple of asteroids and they captured us with their gravitational pull and made moons of us and fixed us in orbit around themselves... We felt their friendship as freezing travellers felt a dry room and a fire."
Finally, my favourite passage, in case you happen to remember, is the internal debate about upward mobility (beginning of part 2 chapter 4).