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Angle of Repose

Wallace Stegner



By coincidence, I recently both moved here and discovered Wallace Stegner’s 1971 Pulitzer Prize-winning “Angle of Repose,” a novel probably well known to many Nevada County readers.




The elegance of its engineering-term title well fits this literary achievement. The book begins and ends in Grass Valley, though the central story it tells has a broader reach.

Two Easterners, one an artist/writer and one a mining engineer, marry, go west and find a life more vivid and personally challenging than they could have imagined.

Their grandson – having grown and returned after resolving some personal challenges of his own – finds quiet comfort in Grass Valley and writes of their robust life while weaving his own through it.

Along the way, the reader is treated to some history of developing the West and discerning portrayals of the mining industry.

Stegner’s prose is rich in color and content, displaying a keen, observant and thoughtful intelligence while creating a tailing heap of experience and insights, which rests nicely within its angles of repose.

Dave Finch

Grass Valley

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