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July/August Pick 2011

Crossing to Safety
Wallace Stegner

Since its publication in 1987, Crossing to Safety has 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.

It's deceptively simple: two bright young couples meet during the Depression and form an instant and lifelong friendship. 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.

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. 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.

About the Author

Wallace Stegner's novels and stories are profoundly influenced by the American West, where he grew up. He is a master at tracing the changes over time in marriages and friendships, as well as at depicting the poignant tensions between a mind that remains strong in a body that is succumbing to illness.

In 1972, Stegner won a Pulitzer Prize for Angle of Repose, a novel about a wheelchair-bound man's re-creation of his New England grandmother's experience in a late nineteenth-century frontier town. Among the other novels of Wallace Stegner, who died in 1993, are The Big Rock Candy Mountain, Joe Hill, All the Little Live Things and The Spectator Bird. From 1945 to 1971 Stegner taught at Stanford University, where the writing program is named after him.

Reviews

"Tracing the interlocking lives, loves, and aspirations of four lifelong friends who move between Vermont and Wisconsin, Stegner's 1987 masterpiece is a work of quiet majesty, deep compassion, and powerful insight… 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 ."– Publishers Weekly

"This is a wonderfully rich, warm, and affecting book. Highly recommended." -Library Journal

About SFPL'S Stegner Environmental Center

The Wallace Stegner Environmental Center is a resource center for information about the environment. Its goal is to inspire understanding and appreciation of the interconnectedness of life on earth by providing environmental literature and innovative public programs. The Center is named after the Pulitzer Prize-winning author Wallace Stegner.

Collections and Services Available

  • A collection of books ranging from those for the layperson to books used by members of the Bay Area’s environmental community
  • Magazines concerned with core environmental issues
  • A variety of programs and lectures that inform the public about topical ecological and environmental issues
  • Associated with the Stegner Center is the Government Information Center, which holds City, state and federal documents including environmental impact statements
  • A permanent display of Wallace Stegner’s personal copies of his books

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