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The Spectator Bird (1976)

por Wallace Stegner

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8742818,192 (4.01)81
Retired literary agent Joe Allston passes through life as a spectator until he discovers the journals of a trip he took to his mother's birthplace years before.
Adicionado recentemente porMixedPaper, MAR67, davidcla, urania1, Thicksinpg, jonissen, ddahl
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Inglês (26)  Espanhol (1)  Francês (1)  Todas as línguas (28)
Mostrando 1-5 de 28 (seguinte | mostrar todos)
I was bound to enjoy this--it's set in 1970s California (albeit the Peninsula), much of takes place in Denmark (and there is Danish sprinkled throughout, as well as plenty of description of DK), and there's even a mention of a wild car ride in Rome, from the American Academy down into Trastevere.

Most of all though, I love books like this--about age, memory, and distance. About relationships with others and with oneself. About forgiving and making choices. And especially about the squirreliness and crankiness that comes with long lasting relationships.

In the end, there are two people who have spent a life together and know exactly how to read each other. Somehow that combination (to the couple, not the reader!) is at once irritating as well as very comforting--true intimacy. ( )
  giovannaz63 | Jan 18, 2021 |
Joe, a retired literary agent, reflects on aging, the death of friends and family, and past memories. This is intensified when he comes across some notebooks detailing a memorable trip he and his wife took to Denmark after the death of their son and stayed in the home of a somewhat idiosyncratic woman.

This was a 'gentle' sort of read, in that it was much more introspective than plot-driven. (However, it covers deep and weighty topics so it's not particularly a 'feel good' sort of read.) I found the psychological aspects interesting, especially as it seemed Stagner was having his protagonist work through the final stage of Erik Erikson's psychosocial development timeline (i.e., ego integrity versus despair). Joe's voice was distinct, intelligent, and a bit snarky at times, making for a compelling narrator.

Edward Hermann was an excellent reader for the audiobook version, and he really brought Joe and the other characters to life. He did a good job with the various accents as well.

Those who like contemplative, literary novels will likely enjoy this one. ( )
  sweetiegherkin | Aug 30, 2020 |
As often happens to me with Wallace Stegner, I am wowed by his writing, but don't really like the central character. I was glad to have the print book of this at the same time I was listening. I wanted to go back and reread phrases. Such a wonderful use of the language. We also had some trouble untangling the threads of family and the print edition helped us sort it all out. Edward Herrmann is a fabulous narrator. ( )
  njcur | Jul 2, 2020 |
I love this author's writing style (I've read several others and loved them too). I marked so many passages to go back and reread..... Half of this book is a retiree musing on aging and half is reading 20 year old journals and revisiting some painful memories. I wish my journal writing could be like his! "Rain dimples the still canal. The cobbles shine, the deck of the boat is dark wet."

Or musing, "what I somehow can't talk about with her, is how much has been lost, how much is changed, since 1954. I really am getting old. It comes as a shock to realize that I am just killing time till time gets around to killing me. It is not arthritis and the other ailments. It is just the general comprehension that nothing is building, everything is running down, there are no more chances for improvement." Joe, the main character, is a gloomy guy, emotionally closed off, fighting depression about aging and feeling he hasn't lead a full life.

Definitely not action packed, not particularly uplifting, but definitely a reflection on a time of life not usually fictionalized, and a strong story of a long marriage. A short book, quick read, but filled with gems; I thoroughly enjoyed this book. ( )
  Terrie2018 | Feb 21, 2020 |
An older gentleman, with the help of his journal, reviews his life and the effects that a brief encounter with a countess in Denmark had on his marriage and his perspective on his past. An examination of the effects of aging, both good and bad, and the rediscovery of the importance his wife has in his life. Rich prose that is a delight to read. ( )
  dugmel | Feb 7, 2020 |
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[A] seamless, beautiful work of imagination and re-imagination, of personal and social history, of love and family, of intimacy and alienation, of loss and discovery.
 
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On a February morning, when a weather front is moving in off the Pacific but has not quite arrived, and the winds are changeable and gusty and clouds drive over and an occasional flurry of fine rain darkens the terraced brics, this place conforms to none of the cliches about California with which they advertise the Sunshine Cities for the Sunset Years.
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And it reminds me too much of how little life changes: how, without dramatic events or high resolves, without tragedy, without even pathos, a reasonably endowed, reasonably well intentioned man can walk through the world's great kitchen from end to end and arrive at the back door hungry.
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Retired literary agent Joe Allston passes through life as a spectator until he discovers the journals of a trip he took to his mother's birthplace years before.

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