Wallace Stegner : His Life and Work

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9780140247961: Wallace Stegner : His Life and Work

When Jackson Benson's biography of John Steinbeck was published in 1984, it was hailed as definitive and reviewed on the front page of every major newspaper in the country. Now, in an equally groundbreaking work, Benson takes on the late Wallace Stegner--conservationist, teacher, and author of more than two dozen works of history, biography, essays, and fiction, including the Pulitzer Prize-winning Angle of Repose (1971), the National Book Award-winning Spectator Bird (1976), and the bestselling Crossing to Safety (1987). Drawing on nearly ten years of research and hundreds of hours of interviews, this authorized biography traces the trajectory of Stegner's life from his prairie childhood in Saskatchewan and teenage years in Salt Lake City to his prominence in the environmental movement and the impact of his Stanford University creative writing program--whose students included Larry McMurtry, Robert Stone, Ken Kesey, and Ivan Doig. Wallace Stegner is a close encounter with one of the greatest American writers of our time.

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Review:

Jackson J. Benson, author of an earlier biography of John Steinbeck, was both a friend and admirer of his subject, the Pulitzer Prize-winning writer Wallace Stegner, author of Angle of Repose and Crossing to Safety. Benson's biography argues for Stegner's literary stature, rejecting the regionalist label with which he is sometimes diminished, and elevates Stegner's calm, ordered, old-fashioned life. Stegner's writings are credited with the reinvention of the American West, saving it from the Wild West myth, reclaiming it through a reverence for the land, for nature, and for rural simplicity and independence. He founded a superb writing school at Stanford, proved an effective polemicist for environmental causes, and became, Benson argues, "possibly the most accomplished man of American letters in our time."

About the Author:

Jackson J. Benson is a professor of English emeritus at San Diego State University. He is the author of several books, including The True Adventures of John Steinbeck, Writer, The Ox-Bow Man: A Biography of Walter Van Tilburg Clark, and most recently, Under the Big Sky: A Biography of A. B. Guthrie Jr. (Nebraska 2009).

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