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Book Title: Recapitulation. Wallace Stegner|
The author of the book: Wallace Stegner
Format files: PDF
ISBN 13: 9780141392394
The size of the: 5.35 MB
Edition: Penguin Books
Date of issue: November 1st 2012
Read full description of the books Recapitulation. Wallace Stegner:Stay away from this book if you are young. I can’t see a reader under 30 years of age relating to this story. But if you are in your mid-forties or older, you might like it. Recapitulation will certainly make you uncomfortable to learn that there are universal truths about the way we remember and interpret our own pasts. Or maybe you will find that comforting in an uncomfortable way.
Recapitulation is a sequel—if a book written more than 35 years later can be considered a sequel—to Stegner’s The Big Rock Candy Mountain , which is the best work of fiction I’ve read this year. The surviving member of the Mason family, Bruce, returns to his Salt Lake City “home” to take care of affairs after his aunt died. It’s been 45 years since he’s set foot in town. We learn that he has become a well-respected American diplomat in the Middle East since we last saw him as a student at the University of Minnesota law school. This is not a trip he wants to take; his relationship with his aunt was mostly obligatory and his memories of this place are not fond. When he arrives, he wanders around the town to see some of places he lived and where his only real friend lived. Every place conjures up memories he has long repressed or forgotten.
Bruce resolves to visit with his one good friend, Jim Mulder, the only one besides his mother who treated him with unconditional respect, who genuinely cared about him. But he keeps putting it off. After all, while he was traveling the world, his friend never left Salt Lake City and they didn’t stay in touch. Would it be possible to have a reunion with Jim after all this time, after they had grown up in such different worlds, and was he even alive? Bruce remembers their times together. He even conjures up fictional conversations he thought they might have had.
He remembers his one close girlfriend, Nola, probably the only love of his life. When he opens an old box Nola left with that his aunt 45 years earlier, the mementos, photographs, letters and ribbons bring her back to life. She was a Mormon, albeit not very strong in her faith. He was not. Even though they broke up—he wanted to escape Utah, she was bound to it—Stegner conjures up thoughts of “What if?” although Bruce never directly asks the question.
But Bruce’s strongest memories are about his father, Harry “Bo” Mason, of whom Bruce has a hate that has haunted him throughout his life, whether he was aware of it or not. Although his father has been dead for 45 years, he still has a grip on Bruce’s psyche. As different and confrontational as he and his father were, Bruce can’t help but still be intimidated or angered every time his father’s memory surfaces. Their final reckoning is arguably the most lasting memory of the story.
I didn’t know about this book until I finished reading The Big Rock Candy Mountain but instinctively knew I had to read it before the memories of the Mason family began to fade. It can be read as a stand-alone novel, but I think many of the nuances of Bruce’s thoughts and decisions would be lost, or more appropriately, never understood by the reader. (As an unbefitting aside, it’s kind of like jumping into the epic television series Breaking Bad; you have to commit to watch it from the beginning, in sequence, to really appreciate how good it is.) The sequel is not as gripping or dramatic, but it is very satisfying nonetheless. If you are starting to gray or forgot what you looked like before the gray set in, I think you will relate to Bruce’s regrets, fears and experiences. As in all great literature, the time and place of the plot is less important than the eternal truths Stegner's writing exposes.
Read information about the authorWallace Earle Stegner was an American historian, novelist, short story writer, and environmentalist. Some call him "The Dean of Western Writers." He won the Pulitzer Prize in 1972 and the U.S. National Book Award in 1977.
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