All the Little Live Things (Contemporary American Fiction) by Wallace Stegner

By Wallace Stegner

Joe Allston, the retired literary agent of Stegner's nationwide ebook Award-winning novel, The Spectator chook, returns during this disquieting and keenly saw novel. Scarred through the mindless dying in their son and baffled by means of the engulfing chaos of the Sixties, Allston and his spouse, Ruth, have left the coast for a California retreat. And even if their new domestic seems like Eden, it additionally has serpents: Jim Peck, a messianic exponent of gear, yoga, and intercourse; and Marian Catlin, an enticing younger girl whose otherworldly innocence is way extra appealing—and way more risky.

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He was saying something, ceaselessly smiling. I stopped. He said something else, but I didn’t catch it because of the motor. So he said it again, and just as he said it, idly twisted the throttle so that the motor noise surged up. I said to myself, Don’t let this punk get your goat, that’s what he wants. So I waited, and he waited, a hairy grotesque, gleaming with teeth and eyes. In a minute I started us walking again, and then he goosed the motor to pull even, and shut it off. ” I said. “... ” A favor.

Who could persuade him that the Folk who lived simple lives and sang simple songs were also the people who discriminated, segregated, lynched, fought with switchblades, vulgarized everything they touched, saved for a rainy day, bought on credit, were suckers for slogans, loved gadgets, waved the flag, were sentimental about Mother, knew no folksongs, hated beards, and demanded the dismissal of school superintendents who permitted The Catcher in the Rye to appear on high-school reading lists? I knew all about the Folk—they were where I came from.

But I do believe you can replace a blown tube or solder a broken wire. I have always said that the way to deal with the pain of others is by sympathy, which in first-year Greek they taught me meant “suffering with,” and that the way to deal with one’s own pain is to put one foot after the other. Yet I was never willing to suffer with others, and when my own pain hit me I crawled into a hole. Sympathy I have failed in, stoicism I have barely passed. But I have made straight A in irony—that curse, that evasion, that armor, that way of staying safe while seeming wise.

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