Tuesday, March 11, 2008

Margaret's Introduction & 1972 Angle of Repose by Wallace Stegner

I’m Margaret from BooksPlease blog. I’ve only read a few of the Pulitzer Prize winners, so this is a good opportunity to read some more, without any pressure or deadlines. The prize-winning books I’ve read so far are:

1940 - The Grapes of Wrath, John Steinbeck
1972 - Angle of Repose, Wallace Stegner
1988 – Beloved, Toni Morrison
1995 - The Stone Diaries, Carol Shields
1999 - The Hours, Michael Cunningham
2006 – March, Geraldine Brooks

Apart from Angle of Repose I read these books before I started writing my blog. This is what I wrote about Angle of Repose, which Stegner based on the letters of Mary Hallock Foote.

"This book won the Pullitzer Prize for fiction in 1972. It is the story of Lyman Ward, a wheelchair bound retired historian who is writing his grandparents' life history and also gradually reveals his own story. I now know much more about the early days of the opening up of America's western frontier than I learnt from TV cowbow series and films such as Butch Cassidy and the Sundance Kid etc. The story is of Oliver Ward's struggles with various mining and engineering construction jobs, contrasted with Susan Ward's efforts to support him against great difficulties. This is made more difficult when she compares her life with that of her New York society friend, Augusta.

It's a long book, but completely enthralling. There are long letters from Susan to her friends which I think are taken directly from Mary Foote's own letters and these are such descriptive letters that I could imagine what life was really like at that time and place. My only criticism is that I felt the ending came too quickly and was too compacted. I wanted to know more about Susan and Oliver. It was as though Lyman became too disappointed with how their life turned out, or maybe it was because he was too engrossed in his own problems, his illness and difficulties in his personal life.”

The only other book by Stegner that I’ve read is Crossing To Safety, which is a great book. I wrote about it here.

I read the Grapes of Wrath whilst at school, so I may have to re-read this sometime. The rest I’ve read over the last two years apart from Beloved (which I loved), which I read about 10 years ago. I have a copy of The Color Purple by Alice Walker, so I think I’ll read that first. Depending on which books I can find (borrow) I’d also like to read at least:

1953 The Old Man and the Sea by Ernest Hemingway
1961 - To Kill a Mockingbird by Harper Lee
1994 - The Shipping News by E Annie Proulx

1 comment:

Rose City Reader said...

I love Angle of Repose. It is one of my all-time favorites.

Of those you listed, I haven;t read March yet. How would you compare it to the others you've read?