For those of us in Boise, Wallace Stegner’s Pulitzer Prize-winning novel "Angle of Repose" has special meaning.
The book about a fictional wife of a western mining and irrigation engineer, is based, sometimes word-for-word, on the life of Boise author Mary Hallock Foote. Much of the book takes place in our place.
In 2004 it was chosen for If Everybody Read the Same Book in Boise, which was started here by my colleague Dan Popkey. But since then, there has been little attention on the 1971 book that famously was ignored at the time by reviewers and eastern elites.
But a relatively new audio version of the book has captured the attention of the Salon and may breathe new life into the book. What made the book unique in 1971 is its narrator was aging historian Lyman Ward, the grandson of the main character Susan Burling Ward. He told us the story and at the same time revealed his own. Listen to a sample.
Instead of just reading this classic, Mark Bramhall performs it, taking on the role of the crotchety old man as if he is telling you the story personally. This gives those of us who have read "Angle of Repose" more than once a reason to listen again.
Laura Miller, a senior writer for Salon, writes a great review. She goes all in for it. Here’s a sample:
There are some books you finish in a kind of hush, as if holding your breath to avoid disturbing the beauty of each successive moment. They carry you with them as they penetrate to the core of life and leave you overcome, not by their perfection (because novels, like people, are never perfect), but with the sense that you’re in the presence of greatness. There are very, very few novels that can deliver this sensation. “Angle of Repose” is one of them.