Collected Stories of Wallace Stegner

by Wallace Stegner

Hardcover, 1990

Call number




Random House (1990), Edition: 1st, 527 pages


In a literary career spanning more than fifty years, Wallace Stegner created a remarkable record of the history and culture of twentieth-century America. Each of the thirty-one stories contained in this volume embody some of the best virtues and values to be found in contemporary fiction, demonstrating why the author is acclaimed as one of America's master storytellers. For more than seventy years, Penguin has been the leading publisher of classic literature in the English-speaking world. With more than 1,700 titles, Penguin Classics represents a global bookshelf of the best works throughout history and across genres and disciplines. Readers trust the series to provide authoritative texts enhanced by introductions and notes by distinguished scholars and contemporary authors, as well as up-to-date translations by award-winning translators.… (more)

User reviews

LibraryThing member Smiley
Stegner's stories have won many O. Henry prizes, but he is a novelist, not a short story writer. "City of the Dead" is exceptionally fine.
LibraryThing member Hagelstein
In this collection of thirty-one stories Wallace Stegner writes about men and boys approaching manhood, often pitting themselves against nature. Stegner said that he lived the stories, “either as participant or spectator or auditor, before I made fictions of them.” They take place in Saskatchewan, Vermont, Utah, California, Egypt, The Philippines, “places that I know well.”

Stegner’s stories roam about in age as well as place. He writes about the trauma of growing up (sometimes with an abusive father), becoming a man, and being a man once you’re grown. A boy suffers a cruel father in “Butcher Bird.” “The Colt” is a heartbreaking story of a boy and his doomed horse. A family deals with the consequences of insanity in the potentially dark “The Double Corner.” In “A Chip Off the Old Block” a boy must fend for himself when his family is quarantined with the flu as WWI ends.

“Saw Gang” portrays the companionship among men and the satisfaction of a hard day’s work. A young Englishman seeks adventure herding cattle in Saskatchewan in “Genesis.” He finds it and more, nearly dying during a harsh winter. Stegner describes the brutality of nature as well as the beauty. But here’s some beauty: “He saw all ahead of him the disk of the white and yellow world, the bowl of the colorless sky unbearable with light.”

Stegner addresses old-age as well as youth and middle age. In “Balance His, Swing Yours,” an older man despises what he has become, inconsequential in the eyes of youth. A man regrets lost opportunities in “Maiden in a Tower.”

Stegner writes beautifully of nature: “The air was so fresh that he sniffed at it as he would have sniffed at the smell of cinnamon.”
“They saw the wild wooded side of South Maid Hill, the maples stained with autumn, and far up, one scarlet tree like an incredible flower.”
“There had been a wind during the night, and all the loneliness of the world had swept up out of the southwest.”

The writing is clear and refreshing. Although from an earlier time it has aged well. Every story here is a joy to savor.
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LibraryThing member mahallett
pretty good start, declined toward the end
LibraryThing member larryerick
This was my first full fledged immersion into this author's work (after a failed attempt at reading one of his novels), and I was immediately impressed with the skill set he brings to the page. Wendell Berry's and Alice Munro's level of word craft came to mind at first, but it soon became clear this author was not offering any of Berry's sense of humor, and, by the end, it became obvious it would never be offered. The story settings were often reminiscent of Ivan Doig's work, but ultimately I found what I have read from Kent Haruf came closest to what I read here. There was also a rather jarring splash of John Updike in the mix. Amidst the entire collection, at least three different sets of stories are connected. In one case, the second story in its set comes spaced well after the first, and I was a bit startled to realize it took up immediately after the earlier one. This separation in the full collection is particularly odd when, later in the collection, three stories in a row are from a new set, but not obviously following immediately in narrative time. All this is probably a bit inconsequential when laid against the author's overall tone in his stories. I was constantly reminded of a story I had been told (perhaps erroneously, because I can't find confirmation of it now), in which Andrew Carnegie supposedly told his daughter, "Life would be so much easier for you once you realize life is hard." This story collection repeatedly points out various folks in various situations and settings, struggling hard and often not even achieving "two steps forward and one step back" status. Unfortunately, it was never clear to me whether the author just thought life was hard or if he was ultimately pointing out that he wondered if it was all worth it. The good news is he writes so well, you feel obligated to hear him out, regardless.… (more)
LibraryThing member charlie68
A tremendous range of stories with different themes and settings that immerse the reader. Mr. Stegner is a writer with depth.




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