Angle of Repose Summary ✓ PDF DOC TXT or eBook

Review Æ PDF, DOC, TXT or eBook Ø Wallace Stegner

Angle of ReposeD sets out to write his grandparents' remarkable story chronicling their days spent carving civilization into the surface of America's western frontier But his. Little did I expect that the taming of the Wild West could be so intricately reflected in the ongoing evolution of a marriage with all its tensions compromises and sporadic moments of exultation; a marriage that seemed doomed to failure from the startLyman Ward retired historian and scholar now prostrated in a wheelchair sets his mind to write the story of his grandparents and their generation of the many young adventurers who embarked on a non return trip to the inhospitable Western lands to lay down the foundations of a future civilization in the second half of the nineteenth centuryThe evocative fast paced storytelling takes the reader into virgin landscapes across the American border from Idaho to Mexico featuring the West as the silent protagonist of this historical epic mixing flawless and highly descriptive narration with letters that document the daily life and struggles of Sue and Oliver Ward to make a home of this remote unforgiving territory As Lyman absorbs his grandmother’s intimate thoughts through her correspondence he is unconsciously searching for a way to come to terms with his present which has him paralyzed in a deadlock situation Abandoned by his wife dependent and isolated from the world he juxtaposes the values of the sixties with the ones that ruled in the “Old West” and drowns his frustration and loneliness in whisky every night hoping to find the definite answer in his grandmother’s resolution to stick to her own decisions to her marriage for better or for worse in spite of the many differences that separated her from her husband Sue a lady than a woman a refined sophisticated artist and social creature from the East view spoilercharacter based on the illustrator and writer Mary Hallock Foote hide spoiler

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Wallace Stegner's Pultizer Prize winning novel is a story of discovery personal historical and geographical Confined to a wheelchair retired historian Lyman War. Fellow Goodreaders know that feeling of exhilaration when a new entrant pushes its way onto a top ten of all time list Wallace Stegner’s Pulitzer Prize winner from 1972 is my most recent example Of course Goodreads reviewers also know the pressure involved in justifying the choice So what makes this one so good As befits a top ten inclusion here are ten factors that come to mind 1 A Damn Good Story Lyman Ward is a former professor of history with a bone disease that put him in a wheelchair He moved into his grandparents’ house in California where he’d spent much of his boyhood With a strong personal interest and a research historian’s skills he studied the lives of his grandmother Susan and his grandfather Oliver She was an artist and later a writer transplanted from her genteel life in New York to be with her husband the earnest engineer out West He specialized in big projects mines irrigation canals etc His integrity prevented the material success he would have liked as a source of comfort for Susan She created what culture she could in mining towns and had become known for her illustrations and magazine articles about life in the West Stegner had permission to use real letters of a writer and painter from that era lending the narrative an authentic voice As their family dramas unfolded Lyman had a few related episodes of self discovery all very cleverly done 2 Complex Characters What book could ever be considered great without an interesting cast These players were decidedly not stick figures – like Rubenesue actually that’s not the exact opposite I was going for but you know what I mean Starting out Lyman seemed like a stock character – the crusty recluse – but he becomes central and nuanced as the book goes on The way we see his grandparents through his eyes tells us a lot about him To be honest early in his narration I was put off by his invented dialog and false omniscience but later after he copped to this as a way to make them real I actually liked the device All the characters the ones on the periphery included seemed very credible with emotions that rang true and unexpected depths that only a first rate writer could have imagined 3 Interesting History It’s an impressive laundry list of things the curious reader can learn about technology of the time from Oliver’s various engineering projects culture the arts community in NY pioneer life in the West the opulent part of Mexico where Susan and Oliver almost stayed for a job and manners subtle social conventions shady business dealings dirty politics Lyman with his background in history was a very knowledgeable narrator He had remarkable tunnel vision literally since his disease prevented him from turning his head trained on his subjects 4 Conflict Clashes were easy to come by when the refined East civilized society met the rough and tumble West opportunity Tightrope walks were performed between desire and moral responsibility the practical and the romantic and in the case of Lyman and a curvy young assistant the stodgy academic and the free spirited hippie There was conflict in Lyman’s concept of himself too Was he like his grandmother or grandfather It turned out to be a key uestion 5 Blissful Institutions The give and take of a marriage was a central theme Susan was described as “ lady than woman” and Oliver was “ man than gentleman” This made for some tension As Stegner himself said in a Paris Review interview Susan is talented in many ways than Oliver She shows off better But while I wrote that book thinking that I was writing about her as a heroine I came to the end of it thinking maybe he is the hero because there is a flaw in her a flaw of snobbery She doesn’t adeuately appreciate the kind of person he is or the kind of work he does That’s a story not about either men or women but about a relationship a novel about a marriageOn top of this Lyman reflected on his own former marriage Would he forgive his ex wife for what she did to him Should he have done to prevent it from happening in the first place More good uestions both for him and for us 6 Metaphorical Resonance “Angle of repose” is an engineering term referring to the angle at which rocks and soil settle when tumbling down off a slope before coming to a stop Lyman’s goal was to see “how two such unlike particles clung together and under what strains rolling downhill into their future until they reached the angle of repose where I knew them” Another way to think of it may be as the point at which the slights that we suffer lose their animating force and finally give way to acceptance Stegner spells out a second metaphor so well that I’m willing to risk further attention suelching length to include it There is another physical law that teases me too the Doppler Effect The sound of anything coming at you – a train say or the future – has a higher pitch than the sound of the same thing going away If you have perfect pitch and a head for mathematics you can compute the speed of the object by the interval between its arriving and departing sounds I have neither perfect pitch nor a head for mathematics and anyway who wants to compute the speed of history Like all falling bodies it constantly accelerates But I would like to hear your life as you heard it coming at you instead of hearing it as I do a somber sound of expectations reduced desires blunted hopes deferred or abandoned chances lost defeats accepted griefs borne 7 Powerful Descriptions What was clever here was how natural it was for Susan the artist to describe and even embellish the new sights she would see out West Her eye for detail never got tedious Of course we know to credit Stegner for excluding any word that didn’t pull its weight There were countless little analogies too that made for a pleasant experience For example “Bunion footed wearing her look of a supposedly house broken dog which is called upon to explain a puddle on the floor Mrs Briscoe labored toward them” 8 Organic Philosophy I like reading bigger thoughts but less so when they’re without context If they appear as natural outgrowths of a story or a character profile I’m all in With A of R I’m spoiled for choice looking for examples Here are a few ranging from aphorism and homily It is an easy mistake to think that non talkers are non feelers You'll do what you think you want to do or what you think you ought to do If you're very lucky luckier than anybody I know the two will coincide Home is a notion that only the nations of the homeless fully appreciate and only the uprooted comprehend Civilizations grow by agreements and accommodations and accretions not by repudiations The rebels and the revolutionaries are only eddies they keep the stream from getting stagnant but they get swept down and absorbed they're a side issue uiet desperation is another name for the human condition If revolutionaries would learn that they can't remodel society by day after tomorrow haven't the wisdom to and shouldn't be permitted to I'd have respect for them Civilizations grow and change and decline they aren't remade 9 Awfully Good Writing I may have made my case already with the examples I’ve included but let me add that this is than just pretty language we’re talking about here There’s plenty of substance to it too To my mind Stegner is a true master of the craft Every sentence has heft yet never at the expense of flow Early on I thought Stegner is like a grown up when so many others are mere children in comparison His candle power shines brightly on every page 10 Opportunities for Growth Hokeyness aside how many books do you read and wonder “Gee willikers am I possibly becoming a better person” If you’re drawn to intelligence please give Lyman his grandparents and most of all Stegner a try If cumulative insight into human experience floats your boat ships ahoy

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Angle of Repose Summary ✓ PDF, DOC, TXT or eBook ✓ Wallace Stegner's Pultizer Prize winning novel is a story of discovery—personal historical and geographical Confined to a wheelchair retired historian Lyman Ward sets out to write his grandparents' remarkable story chronicling their days spent carving civilization into the sResearch reveals even about his own life than he's willing to admit What emerges is an enthralling portrait of four generations in the life of an American famil. Wallace Stegner was once uoted as saying It’s perfectly clear that if every writer is born to write one story that’s my story this was referring to the tour de force novel that is 'Angle of Repose' which just about ticks all the boxes in terms of literary perfection containing masterful writing of great prose and vision an epic engrossing and mature story charting four generations of an american family trying to carve a piece of history into the western frontier and richly detailed characters that take us on a journey that truly stands the test of time Retired historian Lyman Ward charts the remarkable story of his grandparents and in particular his grandmother Susan Burling Ward confined to a wheelchair in their old home he goes through many a letter starting from the latter stages of the ninetieth century regarding their first encounter marriage children friends and work colleagues and long travels in search of work opportunities for Lyman's grandfather Oliver Ward who is trying and often failing to tap into the development of mining Having been bought up east in the New York area where civilization is settled and life grand Susan would go on to make the ultimate sacrifice regarding her own aspirations and leaving behind her family and very close friend Augusta to travel far west with her husband who has a clear vision for their future With Susan a refined and well educated young lady and Oliver an overly enthusiastic adventurer type who is always humbled in the presence of his wife they head out west in search of the all american dreamWhat is striking in the early stages is the experience of seeing the west through eastern eyes where Susan is horrified at the lack of any culture and order who discovers a land of dirt dust and immense heat that make up a hostile and unforgiving place to try and settle where the terrain is a character in it's own right this Stegner does impeccably eventually she does start to appreciate the raw and rugged beauty of her surroundings but with Oliver gone most of the time Susan is often left on her own and throughout their married life she often defines herself with life back east Once settled in a home it's not long before they are on the move again due to financial problems and Oliver would take up a post elsewhere but with one of three children they would go on to have the emotional strain for Susan is beginning to impact hard with the trend of traveling often and leaving son Ollie back east she is clearly starting to uestion her love but love is a powerful thing and does keep them together through thick and thin well at least for sometime to come Oliver I think never really realized that his wife has a life of her own as well with his worthiness as husband and provider being enough to keep the family in check where he just does what he thinks best to secure a bright future for them but money issues uncertainty and suspicions about Susan's love for him troubles are never far away Had Susan's story been just the main focal point then there is every chance this could have turned out to be a flat epic melodrama but thankfully this is not the case as Lyman Ward who is our narrator is every bit as important to the overall structure with the perspective of his own self that helps to broaden the novels scope It's going over his grandmother's life that starts him to bring his own into the euation with a grown son who he may not see often an ex wife who he definitely does not want to see and little in the way of friends apart from those who help him around the house he is uite a lonely person where it seems looking into the past is his only way to find solace Stegner is technically brilliant here where swinging back and forward in time helps keep things from getting boring as at near six hundred pages I can't think of a single moment that became an issue Recognizing america's change both people and the land is what is what lies at it's core mixing the culture east with the barren west family history both young and old the power of reality and the frailties of big dreams this is one epic family saga that vastly exceeded my expectations and ranks as one of the grandest novels I will ever read