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Crossing to Safety by Wallace Stegner

Crossing to Safety (original 1987; edition 2002)

by Wallace Stegner, Tempest Williams (Introduction)

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2,640802,264 (4.16)290
Title:Crossing to Safety
Authors:Wallace Stegner
Other authors:Tempest Williams (Introduction)
Info:Random House USA Inc (2002), Edition: New Ed, Paperback, 368 pages
Collections:SMI - ZWI
Tags:USA, tbr

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Crossing to Safety by Wallace Earle Stegner (1987)

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I had been thinking about reading this book for a long time because I had heard a lot of good things about Wallace Stegner and I saw a PBS special on him. I heard that this book was about the friendships between two couples, and I thought that would be interesting. In some ways it wasn't what I expected, but in other ways it was. I liked Wallace Stegner's writing style -- he is very descriptive of environments, situations, characters. He makes it very easy to picture these people and their interactions. I also liked how he talked about some of his own ideas through the characters -- for example, his own ideas about writing come through as one of the main characters is writing a book. I didn't like the pretentiousness of some of the characters, they often seemed to be "showing off" knowledge, which some might say would be typical of college professors, but I thought it was a little excessive. In addition, he used some religious imagery that I did not always agree with and some of it seemed inappropriate to me. I did like the fact that it made me think a lot about things, friendship, marriages, encouragement, supportiveness, and so on. There were some aspects of the friendship between the couples and the couples' own relationships that I really enjoyed hearing about, but other parts left me feeling a bit depressed. Still, I am glad I read it. ( )
  writerfidora | Oct 26, 2015 |
I thought Crossing to Safety was very good, though not as strong as Angle of Repose. I didn't research it before I read it, and was surprised to find that it wasn't set in the west. This story takes place partly in Madison, Wisconsin, but mostly in Vermont, from the 1930s through the 1970s. Though I thought he did well drawing these settings, it wasn't as rich a mind-view as he made with AoR. The story is relationship - husbands and wives and friends and family. At character descriptions, Stegner excelled again. ( )
  countrylife | Jun 29, 2015 |
Larry & Sally Morgan have been friends with Sid & Charity Lang for years, ever since their early days on the faculty of the University of Wisconsin during the 1930s. Their friendship has endured through career changes and personal trials. Now, with Charity nearing the end of her life, Larry & Sally have made a final visit to the Lang family's summer home. The book moves between time periods to tell the story of this remarkable relationship, beginning with Sid & Charity welcoming the Morgans to Wisconsin and showing generosity, in both material and non-material ways, to help Larry launch his career as an academic and a writer. Through many summers spent with the Langs, the Morgans become as much a part of the family as the siblings, children, aunts, and uncles. They are so close that the Morgans choose to name their daughter Lang.

I'm fortunate to have experienced a friendship similar to this, with a couple my husband and I met when we were in our 20s. C&D were slightly older, financially more stable, and socially connected. They introduced us to new friends, were very generous with their resources, threw a baby shower when our first child was born, and invited us to spend a week at their summer place. Our lives diverged a few years later due to job-related relocations, but we kept in touch and saw one another from time to time. Sadly, C&D's marriage floundered. We tried to stay in contact and met up with C once or twice after their divorce, but it was never the same. And, in hindsight, we can identify certain events and behaviors that may have contributed to their breakup.

In a similar way, there were chinks in Sid & Charity's marriage as well. About midway through the book, I said to myself, "surely this can't be all happiness all the time?" And it was not. Like any couple, there were tensions both big and small. They were not serious enough to threaten either the marriage or their friendship with Larry & Sally, but the younger couple seemed to grow together over the years in ways their friends did not. And yet they idolized Sid & Charity to the end, and often failed to see the ways in which they were stronger than their friends.

I enjoyed this character study and portrait of friendship, and it has made me appreciate even more the friendship I once had. ( )
3 vote lauralkeet | Jun 21, 2015 |
read it a long time ago but loved it ( )
  lindaspangler | Jun 11, 2015 |
This is the story of Sally and Larry Morgan and Charity and Sid Lang and their relationship. The story begins in the 1930s depression when Larry and Sally move to Madison where Larry has accepted a one year term teaching at the university. Almost from their first day, they become fast friends with the Langs. The Langs have been in Madison for a few years and have two children and both families are expecting a child. The Morgans are dirt poor and the Langs seem quite wealthy. Stegner does an amazing job of describing the relationships between the two couples and how the Langs pull the Morgans deep into their inner circle. The story takes place over several decades and primarily at the Lang family cottage in Vermont. Over time one gets to appreciate the vitality and dynamism of the Langs but also some of the fissures. Charity is a very domineering character who plans everyone's life to the point where they are suffocating, at least poor Sid is. The denouement at the end with her impending death is a tour de force of her will over his. Both husbands deal with their wife's handicaps: Sally contracts police is is forever dependent on Larry but is still a very loving , devoted and serene person. He still loves her very much.Sid is so dependent on Charity and her schedules that she fears he will fall apart after her death. Both men are somehow chained to their wives but for different reasons.
Great book, great writing and character development. ( )
  MaggieFlo | May 26, 2015 |
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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.

Robert Frost
For M.P.S., in gratitude for more than half a century of love and friendship, and to the friends we were both blessed by.
First words
Floating upward through a confusion of dreams and memory. curving like a trout through the rings of previous risings, I surface.
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Disambiguation notice
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Wikipedia in English


Book description
This is a novel by one of the grand masters of American fiction, about two couples who form a fast-and lifelong-friendship. It begins in the mid-thirties, in mid-Depression, when a nice, bright couple from the West with gifts and dreams but no prospects or connections meets a nice, bright couple from the East with wealth-and the generosity to share.

Set against the backgrounds of several beautifully rendered and most typical American landscapes, the story of the friendship between Larry and Sally Morgan and Sid and Charity Land makes for fiction of humor, sadness, and celebration, that rare novel which the reader declares a gift. Mr. Stegner brilliantly brings to life America as it changes, grows older, evolves, and how the Langs and the Morgans do the same. Each stumbles through life supported by the others, yet in that support, Mr. Stegner renders the occasional penalties of closeness and loyalty, the occasional perils of asking forgiveness. Each achieves a different safety by a different means, yet all are held together by the love of friends.

Haiku summary

Amazon.com Amazon.com Review (ISBN 037575931X, Paperback)

It's deceptively simple: two bright young couples meet during the Depression and form an instant and lifelong friendship. "How do you make a book that anyone will read out of lives as quiet as these?" Larry Morgan, a successful novelist and the narrator of the story, poses that question many years after he and his wife, Sally, have befriended the vibrant, wealthy, and often troubled Sid and Charity Lang. "Where is the high life, the conspicuous waste, the violence, the kinky sex, the death wish?" It's not here. What is here is just as fascinating, just as compelling, as touching, and as tragic.

Crossing to Safety is about loyalty and survival in its most everyday form--the need to create bonds and the urge to tear them apart. Thirty-four years after their first meeting, when Larry and Sally are called back to the Langs' summer home in Vermont, it's as if for a final showdown. How has this friendship defined them? What is its legacy? Stegner offer answers in those small, perfectly rendered moments that make up lives "as quiet as these"--and as familiar as our own. --Sara Nickerson

(retrieved from Amazon Thu, 12 Mar 2015 18:12:32 -0400)

(see all 6 descriptions)

"Called a "magnificently crafted story ... brimming with wisdom" by Howard Frank Mosher in The Washington Post Book World, Crossing to Safety has, since its publication in 1987, established itself as one of the greatest and most cherished American novels of the twentieth century. Tracing the lives, loves, and aspirations of two couples who move between Vermont and Wisconsin, it is a work of quiet majesty, deep compassion, and powerful insight into the alchemy of friendship and marriage."--Jacket.… (more)

(summary from another edition)

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