Not only a book of a lifetime, Crossing to Safety is a book that comes at the end of a long lifetime of writing....a miraculous book, written with the wisdom of age but without seeming old...A book of great maturity, this one, and not to be missed. --Gillian Slovo, The Independent, Friday 5th December 2008
A superb book. . . . Nothing in these lives is lost or wasted, suffering becomes an enriching benediction, and life itself a luminous experience. --Doris Grumbach
Adding to a distinguished body of work that already has earned him a Pulitzer Prize and the National Book Awardand on the 50th anniversary of the publication of his first novelStegner's new book is an eloquent, wise and immensely moving narrative. It is a meditation on the idealism and spirit of youth, when the world is full of promise, and on the blows and compromises life inevitably inflicts. Two couples meet during the Depression years in Madison, Wis., and become devoted friends despite vast differences in upbringing and social status. Hard work, hope and the will to succeed as a writer motivate the penurious narrator Larry Morgan and his wife Sally as he begins a term teaching at the university. Equally excited by their opportunities are Sid Lang, another junior man in the English department, and his wife Charity. They are fortune's children, favored with intelligence, breeding and money. Taken into the Langs' nourishing and generous embrace, the Morgans have many reasons for gratitude over the years, especially when Sally is afflicted with polio and the Langs provide financial as well as moral support. During visits at the Langs' summer home on Battell Pond in Vermont and later sharing a year in Florence, the couples feel that they are "four in Eden." Yet the Morgans observe the stresses in their friends' marriage as headstrong, insufferably well-organized Charity tries to bully the passive Sid into a more aggressive mold. Charity is one of the most vivid characters in fiction; if she is arrogant, she is also kindhearted, enthusiastic, stalwart and bravean ardent liver of life. Her incandescent personality is both the dominant force and the source of strain in the enduring friendship Stegner conveys with brilliant artistry. He is also superb at expressing a sense of place, and his intelligent voice makes cogent observations on American society in the decades of his setting. But most importantly, he speaks to us of universal questions, reflecting on "the miserable failure of the law of nature to conform to the dream of man." In doing so, he has created a believable human drama the dimensions of which reach out beyond the story's end and resonate in the reader's heart. BOMC and QPBC alternates; Franklin Library Signed First Edition Society selection. --Publisher's Weekly
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About the Author
Wallace Stegner (1909-1993) was the author of, among other novels, Remembering Laughter, 1937; A Shooting Star, 1961; Angle of Repose (Pulitzer Prize), 1971; The Spectator Bird (National Book award), 1977; Recapitulation, 1979. Three of his short stories have won O.Henry prizes, and in 1980 he received the Robert Kirsch award from the Los Angeles Times for his lifetime literary achievements. His collected stories were published in 1990.
Jane Smiley is the author of many novels and works of non-fiction, including, most recently, "Thirteen Ways of Looking at the Novel", about the history and anatomy of the novel. Her most recent novel is "Good Faith". She won the Pulitzer Prize in 1992 for "A Thousand Acres", and was shortlisted for The Orange Prize in 2001 for Horse Heaven.