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You might have noticed The Sunday Salon has been a bit under the weather of late. Last Sunday my Google Reader was completely devoid of posts, but Debra bribed the gremlins, so I am hopeful today's post will travel to feed readers far and wide. I've really come to appreciate and depend on this weekly ritual. While there are some Sundays that I am either too busy or uninspired, more often I find myself -- sometimes as early as Wednesday -- thinking about the upcoming Salon, and what I'd like to write about.

This weekend finds me wallowing in a truly excellent book: Wallace Stegner's Angle of Repose. I've not read Stegner before, and I chose this book because of The Pulitzer Project (it won the prize for fiction in 1972). I have to admit when I checked this book out of my local library, I blanched at its 550+ pages. Having recently read an equally hefty prizewinner, Wolf Hall (read my review), I wasn't sure if I was up for another chunkster. But I was hooked before I'd read 20 pages! The narrator is Lyman Ward, an historian confined to a wheelchair who decides to write his family history, beginning when his grandparents settled in frontier California in 1868. His grandfather, Oliver Ward, was a mining engineer; his grandmother Susan, an artist and writer from the East Coast. The family history is primarily a story of their marriage and the events that held them together. The prose is beautiful, whether Stegner is describing the rich California scenery, or portraying Lyman's emotions and infirmities.

Wikipedia defines angle of repose as "the maximum angle of a stable slope determined by friction, cohesion and the shapes of the particles." Um, that's not helpful (and physics never was my thing). However, Wikipedia's article about this book says, "the title is an engineering term for the angle at which soil finally settles after, for example, being dumped from a mine as tailings." That's a little better. Oliver Ward worked in mines across the American West, and given the nomadic lifestyle required of his profession, I can see how the angle of repose would be an apt metaphor for this novel.

It will take me a few more days to finish Angle of Repose, but I'm also thinking about what's next. I have one timed reading challenge left in 2009, the (Another) 1% Well-Read Challenge, so I think I'll wrap that up with A Short History of Tractors in Ukrainian, by Marina Lewycka. Following that I have a couple books from my stacks that I'd like to read. But that's a subject for another time. I'll be back next Sunday with thoughts on Tractors and anything else that comes to mind.

Where is your reading taking you this weekend?
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( 6 comments — Leave a comment )
Nov. 15th, 2009 06:20 pm (UTC)
I nearly didn't post a Salon post today, but decided at the last minute to do so. I finished the Chunkster Challenge and felt it wouldn't be official unless I mentioned it before the deadline had passed.

Angle of Repose sounds like a good one. I finally got my copy of Wolf Hall. I'm looking forward to reading it.

I seem to be having trouble getting into books lately. I usually get sucked in eventually, but it takes a while. I'm not sure what it is. Whether it is me or the books.

Have a great week, Laura!
Nov. 15th, 2009 08:09 pm (UTC)
Congratulations on finishing the Chunkster Challenge!! And I hope you enjoy Wolf Hall Wendy!
Nov. 15th, 2009 06:23 pm (UTC)
I've been meaning to read "Angle of Repose" for some time. Thank you for putting it back on my radar.
Nov. 15th, 2009 08:10 pm (UTC)
I hope you like it!
p.s. I like your blog!
Nov. 17th, 2009 02:35 am (UTC)
Oh, I KNEW you'd love Stegner. Angle of Repose is indeed excellent...a five star book for me. I am looking forward to reading more by him.
Nov. 17th, 2009 10:02 pm (UTC)
Wendy, I chose this book after reading your review! It might just get 5 stars from me, too.
( 6 comments — Leave a comment )