December selection. I have wanted to read more Wallace Stegner, but here’s the short comment from Julie Schumacher that prompted me to choose it for our December reading. She writes, “Writers still the smoldering ashes of their lives in search of sparks. Stegner’s fictional novelist Larry Morgan does so too, as he looks back through the decades of his literary career, one inextricably tied to his (and his disabled wife’s) intimate friendship with another couple. Sid and Charity Lang are wealthy, the Morgans decidedly not; but Larry Morgan has become a successful writer, while Sid Lang has not – having failed to publish his poems and chosen instead to concentrate on the security of tenure. “Why is it so important to be safe?” Larry Morgan asks. Stegner’s plot moves seamlessly back and forth across the decades – from the time when the Morgans and the Langs first meet until death parts them. The novel contemplates, subtly and eloquently, how art is made from the stuff of daily experience and, along the way, how an inevitable sense of failure can haunt the lives of writers: “Though I have been busy, perhaps overbuys, all my life,” Larry Morgan reflects, “it seems to me now that I have accomplished little that matters, that the books have never come up to what was in my head.”
This seems just the sort of story that a group of old dogs can bite into and chew upon.