The Spectator Bird

The Spectator Bird

by Wallace Stegner

Hardcover(Library Binding)

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From the “dean of Western writers” (The New York Times) and the Pulitzer Prize winning–author of Angle of Repose and Crossing to Safety, his National Book Award–winning novel
A Penguin Classic

Joe Allston is a retired literary agent who is, in his own words, "just killing time until time gets around to killing me." His parents and his only son are long dead, leaving him with neither ancestors nor descendants, tradition nor ties. His job, trafficking the talent of others, had not been his choice. He passes through life as a spectator.

A postcard from a friend causes Allston to return to the journals of a trip he had taken years before, a journey to his mother's birth­place where he'd sought a link with the past. The memories of that trip, both grotesque and poignant, move through layers of time and meaning, and reveal that Joe Allston isn't quite spectator enough.

Product Details

ISBN-13: 9780816164431
Publisher: Cengage Gale
Publication date: 03/01/1977
Series: Spring Adult Ser.
Pages: 409
Product dimensions: 6.50(w) x 1.50(h) x 9.50(d)

About the Author

Wallace Stegner (1909–1993) published more than two dozen books throughout his life, including the novels Angle of Repose, which won the Pulitzer Prize; Crossing to Safety; and The Big Rock Candy Mountain. An early environmentalist, Stegner was instrumental—with his now famous “Wilderness Letter”—in the passage of the 1964 Wilderness Act.
Jane Smiley is the Pulitzer Prize–winning author of more than ten novels and four works of nonfiction. She lives in California. 

Date of Birth:

February 18, 1909

Date of Death:

April 13, 1993

Place of Birth:

Lake Mills, Iowa

Place of Death:

Santa Fe, New Mexico


B.A., University of Utah, 1930; attended University of California, 1932-33; Ph. D., State University of Iowa, 1935

What People are Saying About This

From the Publisher

"It is the autobiographical nature of Stegner's work . . . that makes it so compelling. In every novel, the narrator has all the gifts of language, empathy, and philosophy, but he nonetheless can never free himself from the torments of the past."
-Jane Smiley, from the Introduction

"Elegant and entertaining . . . every scene [is] adroitly staged and each effect precisely accomplished."
-The Atlantic

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The Spectator Bird 3.7 out of 5 based on 0 ratings. 11 reviews.
Guest More than 1 year ago
I thought that this was one of the best books that I have read recently. While I am younger than the narrator, he muses about many issues related to aging and fulfillment that I an beginning to consider. There are a number of beautiful and/or profound passages and the ultimate story definitely held my attention and some of the themes are very thought provoking.
patio14 More than 1 year ago
Stegner is a beautiful writer. His descriptions are thought filled and are lovely observations of life and the world around us. His character in this book makes one think he was also a most accurate observer of people. I will read anything he wrote, but Angle of Repose is still my favorite.
bobbieharv on LibraryThing More than 1 year ago
Beautiful ruminative writing, of course. But a little too unrelievedly negative portrait of a man in his 70s aging not gracefully.
BCCJillster on LibraryThing More than 1 year ago
fabulous writing; depressing, blah story. Should have been a short story. Reexamination of a life wasted, as far as the main character is concerned, and I stopped caring. What's with stegner that he has to take these introspective, grumbling into his beard journeys? No mas.
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