"Africa is, indeed, coming into fashion." - Horace Walpole (1774)

2.19.2009

what I would not part with

Yesterday would have been the 100th birthday of Wallace Stegner, one of the greatest writers of the American West. Timothy Egan has a nice piece in the NYT about the respect Stegner never seemed to earn from the literati (especially those at the NYT).

I've not managed to finish Stegner's greatest novel, Angle of Repose, although it's been sitting on my nightstand since at least August. But Crossing to Safety, which I read in my first year of PhD work, is one of my favorite books. In Crossing, Stegner perfectly captured the life of a young, brilliant, and somewhat terrified academic who's learning his way in the world and managing complicated family relationships and friendships. He took the title from Frost's poem, "I Could Give All to Time," which makes a fitting reminder of Stegner's life and work:

"I could give all to Time except - except
What I myself have held. But why declare
The things forbidden that while the Customs slept
I have crossed to safety with? For I am There,
And what I would not part with I have kept."

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