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The Spectator Bird By Wallace Stegner, The Spectator Bird by Wallace Stegner The Spectator Bird is a short novel by Wallace Stegner that won the National Book Award in A profound novel with a much simpler story than Angle of Repose There are only four characters of any importance in The Spectator Bird and one could make a case that only three are essential. The Spectator Bird Wallace 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. The Spectator Bird The Spectator Bird is a novel by Wallace Stegner It won the US National Book Award for Fiction in The book tells the story of retired literary agent Joe Allston, who receives a postcard from an old friend, a Danish countess named Astrid Joe initially hides the postcard from his wife, Ruth. The Spectator Bird by Wallace Stegner, Paperback Barnes The Spectator Bird . out of based on ratings reviews Guest More than year ago I thought that this was one of the best books that I have read recently While I am younger than the narrator, he muses about many issues related to aging and fulfillment that I an beginning to consider There are a number of beautiful and or profound The Spectator Bird Summary eNotes The Spectator Bird by Wallace Stegner is about Joe Allston He is years old, difficult to deal with, and a former literary agent who has no goals in life He considers himself a spectator in THE SPECTATOR BIRD by Wallace Stegner Kirkus Reviews Stegner picks up some years later with Joe and Ruth Allson of All the Little Live Things and paraphrases some of the themes of that book as well as the later Angle of Repose In particular the irreconcilables between generations you ll remember the death of their son and the fact of growing old alone with the worst of life, crabbed by than arthritis.

  • Title: The Spectator Bird
  • Author: Wallace Stegner
  • ISBN: 9780140139402
  • Page: 392
  • Format: Paperback
  • 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 parentsThis 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.
    The Spectator Bird 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 belove

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    1. Ever notice how, on rare occasions, certain writers really stand out for their ability to capture the subtle and complex ways of folks It s usually a reason to celebrate since these insights are there for us to imbibe But it may be a source of distress if what s revealed is a difficult truth For me, Wallace Stegner is that sort of author, and this book is one I celebra hate Actually, hate is too strong a word, even when it s combined with a good thing I should say I felt twinges of disappointmen [...]

    2. Sometime in the mid 80 s, I read Wallace Stegner s All the Little Live Things, which was published in 1967 and set in that decade Despite being an admirer of his work, I wasn t impressed I found his main character, Joe Alston, a retired literary agent pushing sixty and living with his wife in the hills near Palo Alto, California, to be tiresome How would I describe Joe How about crabby, curmudgeonly, crotchety, bitter, brooding, acerbic, opinionated, argumentative Yes, any one of those will do, [...]

    3. In the earlier novel, All the Little Live Things , Joe Allston had retired from being a literary agent and settled down with his wife Ruth in a country home in California.The story of The Spectator Bird Wallace Stegner takes place when Joe is 69 years old, and to his dismay much has changed around him He is working on various notes when he finds an old postcard which prompts him to locate a diary from years before when he and Ruth had visited Denmark Ruth insists that Joe read out aloud so that [...]

    4. Sartre wrote We are our choices At a time of the year when many people of varying ages take stock, Stegner s story of ageing Joe Allston was especially poignant Whatever your age, we ve all had those pivotal moments in life when we chose one fork in the road over the other, and go on to either live with regret, or relief Even those who feel they ve lived uneventful lives have, at some point, actively made decisions that altered everything forever.I sometimes get the feeling my whole life happene [...]

    5. Perhaps than most of Wallace Stegner s novels, this one might be read differently by readers of different ages Stegner wrote it when he was himself sixty seven, and his protagonist, Joe Alston, is sixty nine This first person narrator is judged by his wife Ruth to have become irritable and depressed, and she is probably correct Joe s interior monologues are delightfully curmudgeonly He is a retired literary editor, and his thoughts and speech are filled with literary allusions Joe is worried ab [...]

    6. I have had a bunch of Wallace Stegner s works in my library for a few years but never got around to choosing one So, about a week ago I walked over to the library and this book sort of jumped out at me And so at age 63, an age I think is appropriate for reading this book, I settled in for what was a very worthwhile and thought provoking week of reading The man writes beautifully and this book touches on things that I think cannot be appreciated until one hits these Golden Years of life We have a [...]

    7. Another deeply satisfying book by Wallace Stegner, with themes reminiscent of Crossing to Safety and Angle of Repose mortality, the labyrinth of marriage, the mind game that is aging and physical disability, the search for self I wonder if to be known to one s self, to make transparent to ourselves the good and bad that is resident in each of us, is the safe place Stegner alludes to so often Perhaps the safe place is not a physical pilgrimage after all not returning to our origins, not Bregninge [...]

    8. I had wanted to read another novel by Wallace Stegner since Crossing to Safety The Spectator Bird lived up to expectations and not because it won the US National Book Award for Fiction in 1977 Even though it was written almost forty years ago, the relevance of the issues it dealt with shone through the pages with contemplative resonance.Set mostly in Denmark, The Spectator Bird centered on Joe Allston, a 69 year old retired literary agent, his wife Ruth , and their summer friendship with a Danis [...]

    9. They say that as we approach old age, some look back with satisfaction and contentment about the life path they followed, and some reflect with regret and guilt, and, in hindsight, wish they had followed other paths to supposedly greener pastures Approaching 70, our narrator is squarely in the latter category Despite his and his wife s relatively good health, an accomplished career as a literary agent, and a suburban villa an hour from San Francisco, he is filled with guilt for driving away his [...]

    10. THE SPECTATOR BIRD 1976 Wallace StegnerThis is a marvelous un put downable novel from Stegner that was fully deserving of the prize for Best Fiction from the 1977 National Book Award It is the story of a trip taken by a married couple to Denmark, told through the rereading of a series of journals kept by the husband during the trip twenty years earlier The reader is not quite sure what the theme of the book is all about until very near the end Suddenly we are brought up to speed very quickly and [...]

    11. Most things break, including hearts The lessons of life amount not to wisdom, but to scar tissue and callus I m not going to waffle on about this one cue cheers at the back because I m rather ill at the moment and not in any kind of mood to write an exhaustive and probably exhausting review However, what I will say is that Wallace Stegner is rapidly becoming one of my favourite authors and I can say that with confidence after reading just two of his books Crossing to Safety was one of my favouri [...]

    12. Opening On a February morning, when a weather front is moving in off the Pacific but has not quite arrived, and the winds are changeable and gusty and clouds drive over and an occasional flurry of fine rain darkens the terrace bricks, this place conforms to none of the clich s about California with which they advertise the Sunshine Cities for the Sunset Years.Page 6 So far as I can see, it is bad enough sitting around watching yourself wear out, without putting your only mortal part prematurely [...]

    13. The Spectator Bird is a beautifully written novel What I loved most was Stegner s thoughtful, profound portrayal of a mature, complicated, loving relationship between a married couple To steal from The Troggs, Wallace Stegner, you make my heart sing

    14. Added 9 7 13.I listened to this book via audible Such great writing Very rich with allusions and metaphors Wallace Stegner is remarkable This was a heartrending story Stegner poignantly describes the agony of being torn between two loves There is also a detailed back story with ominous overtones, but the romantic scenes are always pure.The audio book was read by Edward Herrmann who definitely added to my enjoyment of the story.One GR reviewer wrote that the main character s interior monologues a [...]

    15. A beautiful novel by a master of the form As we get older and settled, we find the past calling for its reckoning, and in this novel Stegner takes his protagonist on a reckoning from present day 1970 s Northern California to post war Denmark through the journals he kept stashed away among his relics Stegner is a writer s writer who paints the most evocative and striking scenes with his finely honed descriptive eye, while also maintaining characters of sharp wit and intelligence who have a capac [...]

    16. Another beautifully crafted novel by Stegner about marriage, self discovery, andcs Stegner artfully intertwines two plot lines, one that follows an aging, retired literary agent who is approaching his death with a healthy mix of fear, anger, and self deprecating humor As readers watch him struggle through his daily routines, something out of the ordinary arrives in his mailbox It s a postcard from an old friend, a Danish noblewoman he and his wife lived with for a few months than twenty years b [...]

    17. A short, skillful novel and an improvement over The Angle of Repose At first, it seems the story is about aging gracefully with good humor and safety, in spite of the corrosive feeling that in your life, you were a spectator, a valet, to the banquet of life But it takes a turn as the husband reads his diary to his wife about a trip they took to Denmark twenty years before.For a short book it is multi layered with the themes of settling into retirement, being part of an old married couple and at [...]

    18. Now that I am in my sixties, I enjoyed this book this time around I first read it several decades ago and it didn t resonate nearly so much Written from the perspective of a 69 year old retired literary agent, who is aging ungracefully, it touches on many of the unwelcome losses that the accumulated years bring Joe feels that he has been a spectator to his own life Then he starts to read his diary aloud to his wife, about a trip they took to Denmark twenty years before During that period, a com [...]

    19. I didn t realize until the end that this is a prequel to All the Little Live Things, a favorite of mine Joe Allston is agreeably irascible, a foil to his wife Ruth and the unfortunate and intriguing woman of secrets, Astrid Psychologically and philosophically true.

    20. Not a word is out of place in this comparatively short novel by Stegner And that is eminently suitable for a novel that revolves around the retelling of a memoir diary notes were taken at the time and life memories from one particular earlier life period of a retired literary agent, the protagonist of the novel So put on your literary thinking caps and stir up your own memories of every lit course you ever took, way back when, because the references and allusions to almost everything you ve ever [...]

    21. Another delightful book from Wallace Stegner Even though I have ones I favor than this one Angle of Repose, The Big Rock Candy Mountain, All the Little Live Things Stegner is capturing getting old in a way that I do not believe that anyone else succeeds, with the fear, but also with the intimacy of couples that are married for long long years, with regrets and memories, with friends that are going away passing away, or losing their health, or just far away Joe is funny yet grumpy in All the Li [...]

    22. This book bored the hell out of me Which is a shame, b c Stegner is a wonderful writer and a decent storyteller The protagonist of the story is a retired literary agent living out his life in Northern California having retired from New York A postcard from an old friend sends the character looking at old journals and the story takes off from there There is no denying Stegner s skill as a writer He writes clearly and his imagery is evocative His dialogue is clean and clear He writes, from a styli [...]

    23. Wallace Stegner is praised for his impact on and affiliation with other great authors Tom Wolfe, Larry McMurtry, Ken Kesey, Edward Abbey, et al but I consider his own fiction to be rather underrated.One of the highlights of my sportswriting career had nothing at all to do with sports I chatted for a few minutes with Wolfe once regarding Stegner s antipathy toward Kesey.I ve read most of Stegner s fiction and quite a bit of his non fiction He is a remarkable craftsman I encourage you to expose y [...]

    24. I LOVED this book But, then again, I love Wallace Stegner I listened to it as an audio presentation and the reader, Edward Herrmann, did a fantastic job as an old mand then transitioned into Ruth, his wife, and THEN into the Danish characters It centers around the theme of an old 68 , arthritic man in the 1970 s, and his reminiscence of their time in Denmark in earlier years as he reads his old journals to his insistent wife It is also about an old man as he ages I feel Stegner has, in the 3 nov [...]

    25. I am almost certain I will read this again in 20 years time and give it 5 stars It is full of the poignant, often sad, old age musings of a retired New York literary agent as he battles with ageing, perceived irrelevance and questions of identity and legacy With both his parents and his only child dead, what will be the evidence he even existed Has he only been a spectator in life Is he just killing time until time kills him His humour is sarcastic and deliciously dry while travelling he notes a [...]

    26. Joe Allston is not living his golden years gracefully Nearly 70, he is consumed with the notion that he s just killing time until time kills him He s obsessed with his physical ailments and thinks he s losing his sharpness and vigor He views his life as mostly one of failure to impact anyone for positive His wife Ruth is impatient with his dour affect She urges him to write as a form of therapy, but he s reluctant to do so as he just doesn t have the spirit that s needed He lost an adult son yea [...]

    27. The Spectator Bird tells the story of Joe Allston, a retired literary agent, recalling a past that he bemoans, living in a broken body in a present that he is thoroughly dissatisfied with The novel exemplifies Stegner s tendency to play with conventions of narration In this novel, the story of the present is told through Allston s narration, while the story from the past that covers much of the novel s pages is told through Allston s reading of a diary kept during a vacation to Denmark twenty ye [...]

    28. With The Spectator Bird Wallace Stegner returned to Joe Allston, whom we first met in All the Live Little Things He s a retired literary agent, now living with his wife Ruth in California and still depressed about their son s early death in a surfing accident, which Joe thinks might have been suicide.The Penguin paperback edition I read has an introduction by Jane Smiley that is really good It situates Stegner in the context of his literary times, noting his feeling that the Eastern establishmen [...]

    29. A dark and surprising book For one thing, I wasn t aware that the indignities of old age were a theme in the fiction of the 1970s The novel alternates between the present, when literary agent Joe and his wife Ruth have retired to California, and the past, when they traveled to Denmark in the aftermath of their only son s death Twenty years ago, after Curtis died, possibly a suicide, Joe and Ruth decided to spend a few months in Denmark, wherefrom Joe s mother had emigrated as a teenager By a rat [...]

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