Sunday, February 10, 2008

Philip Fradkin on Wallace Stegner


Today the Los Angeles Times ran my review of Philip Fradkin's Wallace Stegner and the American West. I highly recommend this book to anyone interested in the literature of the American West--especially fiction, history, and environmental writing. I learned a lot from it.

While visiting with Alice McGrath in Ventura yesterday, I discovered that she met Stegner in the 1940s. Stegner was writing a book called One Nation, his version of Carey McWilliams's Brothers Under the Skin, which appeared a couple of years earlier. Both men had contributed to the American Folkways series edited by Erskine Caldwell, and they may have met that way. (Stegner wrote Mormon Country, and McWilliams wrote Southern California Country, later simplified to Southern California.) Stegner asked McWilliams for help on the Latino chapter in One Nation. McWilliams referred him to Alice, who introduced Stegner to some folks in Los Angeles.

When I asked Alice what Stegner was like, she mostly remembered how handsome he was.

Fanatical readers of this blog will recall that the Times doesn't keep their online material posted for very long. After a few days, you have to pay for it. So if you're going to get it, get it early.

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