Cover image for Collected stories
Collected stories
Stegner, Wallace, 1909-1993.
Uniform Title:
Short stories
Publication Information:
New York : Random House, 1990.
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In a literary career spanning more than fifty years, Wallace Stegner, winner of a Pulitzer Prize and the National Book Award, has created a remarkable record of the history and culture of twentieth-century America. These thirty-one stories demonstrate why he is acclaimed as one of America's master storytellers. Here are tales of young love and older wisdom; of the order and consistency of the natural world and the chaos, contradictions, and also continuities of the human being. There is sweet love in a berry patch, there are bittersweet reunions, trials, and tests of manhood and friendship, and the sometimes foolish and impractical yet noble dreams of man. Each of these stories embody some of the best virtues and values to be found in contemporary fiction.

Author Notes

In 1972, Wallace Earle Stegner won a Pulitzer Prize for Angle of Repose (1971), a novel about a wheelchair-bound man's recreation of his New England grandmother's experience in a late nineteenth-century frontier town. Stegner was born on February 18, 1909 in Lake Mills, Iowa. He was an American novelist, short story writer, environmentalist, and historian; he has been called "The Dean of Western Writers". He also won the US National Book Award in 1977 for The Spectator Bird.

Stegner grew up in Great Falls, Montana; Salt Lake City, Utah; and in the village of Eastend, Saskatchewan, which he wrote about in his autobiography Wolf Willow. Stegner taught at the University of Wisconsin and Harvard University. Eventually he settled at Stanford University, where he initiated the creative writing program. His students included Wendell Berry, and Sandra Day O'Connor. The Stegner Fellowship program at Stanford University is a two-year creative writing fellowship. The house Stegner lived in from age 7 to 12 in Eastend, Saskatchewan, Canada, was restored by the Eastend Arts Council in 1990 and established as a Residence for Artists; the Wallace Stegner Grant For The Arts offers a grant of $500 and free residency at the house for the month of October for published Canadian writers.

Stegner died in Santa Fe, New Mexico, on April 13, 1993, from a car accident on March 28, 1993.

(Bowker Author Biography)

Reviews 3

Publisher's Weekly Review

These 31 classic stories record much of the cultural climate of 20th-century America, its West in particular, constituting, as the NBA and Pulitzer Prize-winning author affectionately notes, not an autobiography, but ``a sort of personal record.'' As combined here, the tales are a window onto a vivid American past that is as focused as a Norman Rockwell painting, although far more astringent and hardly as wholesome. Settings range from Stegner's native Canada to Utah, California and Vermont--all memorable places in the author's life. The stories are not arranged chronologically: Stegner's dark, voyeuristic peek into the lives of women awaiting letters from men serving in WW II gives way to an account of a bloodthirsty boyhood on the hot, flat frontier of a Saskatchewan farm. Best of all is the slicing wit of ``Field Guide to the Western Birds,'' in which a curmudgeon acidly comments on the petulant antics of a would-be virtuoso. Several of the stories have been reshaped and interpolated into such novels as Wolf Willow and The Big Rock Candy Mountain. (Mar.) (c) Copyright PWxyz, LLC. All rights reserved

Library Journal Review

Stegner is best known for his epic novels of the American West--books such as the Pulitzer Prize-winning Angle of Repose (1971)--but in his younger years he was a prolific short story writer. Like the novels, Stegner's stories are traditional in style and typically look back with nostalgic longing to a nobler period of America's past. However, since most of these works were written in the Thirties, Forties, and Fifties, the ``present'' Stegner condemns is itself impossibly old-fashioned, and his anti-modern bias seems a bit ridiculous. Some of the stories in this collection are simply museum pieces, but several retain their vitality, notably ``The Sweetness of the Twisted Apples,'' ``The City of the Living,'' and ``The Volunteer.'' Recommended for larger fiction collections.-- Edward B. St. John, Loyola Law Sch., Los Angeles (c) Copyright 2010. Library Journals LLC, a wholly owned subsidiary of Media Source, Inc. No redistribution permitted.

Choice Review

These 31 stories bring together Stegner's short fiction published between the 1930s and the 1950s. As Stegner tells us in the foreword, he quit writing short stories three decades ago in favor of novel, biography, and essay because he considered the form to belong to the craft of the "young writer": "made for discoveries and nuances and epiphanies and superbly adapted for trial syntheses." The epiphanic moment is particularly refined in Stegner's short fiction, and these stories may well provide, as Anne Tyler claims, an "overview. . .of the American short story's progress during a crucial period in its history." Despite Stegner's disclaimer, Tyler notes that they form an overview of the writer's developmental history as well, even though Stegner says he has not superimposed a thematic or chronological effect. They "lie as they fell," he states bluntly, spurning editorial prerogatives of modernizing anachronisms or attitudes. This lifetime collection traverses settings from Saskatchewan through the Midwest to California ("Genesis," a short novel, is a jewel of its kind) and is certain to be definitive for all libraries and all readers. Highly recommended. -R. T. White, Kent State University