This tour-de-force of American literature and a winner of the National Book Award is a profound, intimate, affecting novel from one of the most esteemed literary minds of the last century and a beloved chronicler of the West.
Joe Allston is a cantankerous, retired literary agent who is, in his own words, “just killing time until time gets around to killing me.” His parents and his only son are long dead, leaving him with neither ancestors nor descendants, tradition nor ties. His job, trafficking the talent of others, has not been his choice. He has passed through life as a spectator, before retreating to the woods of California in the 1970s with only his wife, Ruth, by his side. When an unexpected postcard from a long-lost friend arrives, Allston returns to the journals of a trip he has taken years before, a journey to his mother’s birthplace where he once sought a link with his past. Uncovering this history floods Allston with memories, both grotesque and poignant, and finally vindicates him of his past and lays bare that Joe Allston has never been quite spectator enough.
Wallace Stegner (1909–1993) was the author of, among other novels, All the Little Live Things (winner of a Commonwealth Club Gold Medal), Angle of Repose (winner of the Pulitzer Prize), and The Spectator Bird (winner of the National Book Award). His nonfiction… More about Wallace Stegner
“Wallace Stegner’s is one of the most beguiling voices of [the] era, and The Spectator Bird is one of his most appealing works.”—Jane Smiley, from the introduction
“A fabulously written account of regret, memory and the subtleties and challenges of a long successful marriage. Stegner deals with the dual threads of the novel with aplomb…. A thoughtful, crystalline book.” —Matthew Spencer, The Guardian
“There are rivers undammed, desert vistas unspoiled and forests uncut in the wondrous West because of his pen.” —Timothy Egan, The New York Times