Matthew Stewart, author of The Most Beautiful Place on Earth:  Wallace Stegner in California, sits down (literally) with host John Murdock to discuss Stegner’s complicated relationship with the American West.  A mobile youth left Stegner yearning for deeper roots.  In the 1940s, he landed in the hills surrounding San Francisco Bay, an area soon set for expansive growth.  Stegner’s interplay with the region and his own personal history led to the Pulitzer Prize winning Angle of Repose, a National Book Award for The Spectator Bird, and his masterful final work Crossing to Safety.  Stewart, who received his Ph.D. in history from Syracuse, digs deeply into Stegner’s prose, places, and personal archives to document this quest for home.

Host:     John Murdock

Guest:  Matthew Stewart

Highlights

2:00       Stewart, man of Geneva and Idaho

5:00       Wallace Stegner 101

7:00       “Geography of hope” and other famous phrases

7:45       A sharp dressed man in the eyes of his student, Wendell Berry

9:30       Ranking the novels

11:30    Mary Hallock Foote controversy

14:00    Life story of a Silicon Valley pioneer

16:45    Family’s outlaw life and death

18:30    California here he comes

19:45    Utopian suburban dreams

22:15    Searching for substance in a “formless non-community”

26:00    Anguished questions of the 1960s

30:15    Fan mail from frustrated parents

33:00    Stuck in Vermont

36:00    Edward Abbey sets the scene

38:00    Finding beauty in the places we know

Resources

Buy the book

Stewart’s bio at FPR

Stegner’s Wilderness Letter

Mary Hallock Foote matter still controversial in 2022

A piece on Stegner and his students

Wendell Kimbrough helps us find our way home

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