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Crossing to Safety by Wallace Stegner
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Crossing to Safety (original 1987; edition 1990)

by Wallace Stegner

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2,846912,040 (4.15)306
Member:KatherineGregg
Title:Crossing to Safety
Authors:Wallace Stegner
Info:Penguin Books (1990), Paperback, 341 pages
Collections:Your library
Rating:*****
Tags:polio, death, friendship, marriage, cancer

Work details

Crossing to Safety by Wallace Earle Stegner (1987)

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» See also 306 mentions

English (84)  Spanish (5)  Catalan (2)  English (91)
Showing 1-5 of 84 (next | show all)
Some of the finest writing I've had the pleasure of reading. ( )
  amarie | Nov 16, 2016 |
Reviewing a book by Wallace Stegner is difficult, because a little research shows that he led an admirable life, dedicated to writing, history, and environmental activism. He won a Pulitzer in 1972 and the U.S. National Book Award in 1977. He also started and led an acclaimed writing program at Stanford University. But I'm not reviewing his life, I'm reviewing one specific book.

Crossing To Safety is my introduction to his writing and it left me feeling awe with some aspects and disappointment with others.

I love Stegner's writing. Here are some of my favorite metaphors/similes:

Meeting his eyes was like taking hold of a hot wire.
and
She's dividing herself like some inexhaustible Eucharist. She's going around to everybody she loves, saying. 'Take, eat, this is my body.'

Some of my favorite descriptions:

Her eyes were suspicious and pocketed in radiating wrinkles.
and
The skimpy whorl on the top of his tanned skull reminded me of something Lyle Lister had told me once, … that south of the Equator the crowns and cowlicks of the natives, like the whirlpools in bathtub drains, go counterclockwise, the opposite of the way they go up here.

Some of my favorite moments of self-examining thought:

Can I think of anyone in my whole life who I have liked without his first showing signs of liking me?
and
She saw objectives, not obstacles, and she did not let her uncomplicated confidence get clouded by other people's doubts, or other people's facts. Or even other people's feelings.

Despite my admiration for the writing, I found it easy to put the book down and was never excited to pick it up. Some of my reaction has to do with the plot. It is about relationships and how they weather life. It's the type of plot that has the reader thinking about what happened rather than wondering what will happen next. Another aspect that put me off a bit, was a pretentious feel in some of the dialogue. Larry Morgan and Sid Lang both taught in university liberal arts departments and were able to do some literary name dropping. Here's an example of that:

This door was yanked open, exposing the brilliantly lighted interior, and in the doorway stood – who? Theseus and Ariadne? Troilus and Criseyde? Rusian and Liudmila?

Maybe most readers would do better, but I only recognized 1 of those 3 couples, which I assume are all from classic poetry.

Crossing To Safety is about people who get less out of life than they expected, then, while looking back, become aware that they got more than they thought they had. I recommend it to people who like well written, introspective novels.

Steve Lindahl – author of Hopatcong Vision Quest, White Horse Regressions, and Motherless Soul ( )
  SteveLindahl | Nov 15, 2016 |
Stegner writes character driven fiction that defines the relationships between the characters as well as it does the characters themselves. Crossing to Safety is a story of the bonds and conflicts that connect two couples in a lifelong friendship. It’s not always pleasant as the dynamics of ambition, control and dependence play out, but the insight into the balances that hold these lives together makes this a quietly powerful book. ( )
  wandaly | Jun 30, 2016 |
Another on of my very favorite books. I've read it twice, so far. ( )
  euroclewis | Jun 8, 2016 |
Beautifully written with wonderful observations about friendship and marriage. Highly recommended. ( )
  ltfitch1 | Jun 5, 2016 |
Showing 1-5 of 84 (next | show all)
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Epigraph
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
Dedication
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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Wikipedia in English (1)

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)

» see all 6 descriptions

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