That could be difficult for [Cecil]. Nevertheless we got on very well, and we were good friends, partly because we were in no sense competitive. He played semipro baseball and worked in the mines and married early. At the University of Utah, Stegner started in economics but, encouraged by an English teacher, changed his major to English in his sophomore year.
He graduated from Utah in , and went to the University of Iowa for graduate studies, receiving his Ph. At Iowa he started writing in earnest. He had not written for the Utah college paper, partly because he worked 40 hours a week for a linoleum company. I was going into business but [this was the Depression and] there was no business. Stegner credits the encouragement from his college professors for making a difference in his writing. It keeps you going. When I was at Iowa, they let you write stories for an M. Stegner likes to tell the story of writing his first novel. He saw the notice of a contest.
On the strength of it, Stegner quit his teaching job at Utah, and he and Mary bicycled around England and France for a summer. When his prize money was spent, he took the first job offered: instructor at the University of Wisconsin. Two years later, he went on to Harvard, where he taught composition for six years as assistant professor. Then in , Big Rock Candy Mountain was published. Big Rock Candy Mountain took six years to write.
Stegner says he was exorcising his father in the novel. He was always telling stories of men who had gone over the hills to some new place and found a land of Canaan, made their pile, got to be big men in the communities they fathered. People had been before him. The cream, he said, was gone. Stegner agrees with those who think that the women in his fiction often seem stronger than the men. This stems in part from his relationship with his mother. She could take the kind of life that she got handed.
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But it killed her, too. She died at 50, so I never really knew her in my later life. She had a lot of cultural hungers and a real cultural capacity. His mother had not gone beyond the sixth grade; she helped raise her brothers and sisters after her mother died. She never met anyone who had an education or ideas. Nobody who had traveled anywhere. In , Stegner took a leave from Harvard for a year and a half to work on One Nation , a book that examines the conditions of racial minorities in the United States. At the end of this assignment, Stanford University offered Stegner a full professorship.
I arrived at Stanford just as the GI students were flooding back, the best students, and the most motivated, that any professor ever had. Many of them were gifted writers. They had so much to say and they had been bottled up for two or three or four years. With these students in mind, he drew up a proposal for a writing program—a combination of fellowships, prizes, visiting writers, and short publications.
When his brother, Dr. Jones, who had discovered oil on his Texas property, learned about the proposal, he offered funding for five years. The half-millon dollars in the E. If it had lasted one day longer, divorces and murders and all kinds of things might have taken place. Over the years, many well-known writers have come through the Stanford creative writing program. Somehow or other, Stanford is a great recruiter. Good people have come here.
They always make the coach look good. A lot of American literature got written out of that program by those people and others. Stegner asked Richard Scowcroft, his former student at the University of Utah, to come from Harvard to assist him with the program. Stegner has said that he thinks literacy and grammar can be taught; he does not believe people can be taught to be imaginative.
The spark is a gift. Character, stamina and other things go into it, too. Ten years elapsed before Stegner published another novel, A Shooting Star , in About this hiatus, Stegner says he was discouraged by the way his books were received, so, he stopped writing novels for a period. A Shooting Star is not a book he is fond of now. He scouted his own Stanford students as possible authors and published his cousin, Tom Heggen, who wrote Mister Roberts.
All the Little Live Things was published in , a story about a retired couple living in Los Altos Hills who become close to a neighbor, a young married woman who is dying of cancer. Stegner still gets letters from readers of this work who have lost a relative or friend to cancer. He was feeling grim when he wrote the novel. Stegner says that when he moved to Los Altos Hills in , there were a lot of people retiring to California as well as a lot of young people rushing in.
It made for a rather prickly situation. I especially liked the part about you being a dragon. That sounds so cool. Charlotte looks up as I say that and she has a little smile on her face. She closes her eyes and stands still a moment, before a tail and wings begin to grow out of her backside. Her legs start to grow and crack as they become the hind legs of a dragon. Her face elongates and her teeth start to poke out of her mouth, as she falls forward, her arms catching her as they keep growing.
Her clothes fall off her in shreds and her skin starts turning a dark green color, and I can see scales starting to form.
After a minute, there in front of me stands Charlotte in her Emerald dragon form. The sun glistens off her scales, making them glimmer and shine.
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She unfolds her wings and stretches, rearing up on her hind legs. As she touches back down she folds her wings up and walks over to me. Now hop on and lets go save those people. Charlotte bends down to let me climb on her neck where it meets her back. Charlotte says with a big old dragon smirk. As I do this Charlotte tenses her legs and pushes off into the sky. As she clears the tree tops she spreads her wings and catches the wind, slowing our descent, she turns and glides away from where I think the camp is.
So why are we going away from the camp? Charlotte asks as we go further and further away.
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Because, I think we should try and get as much altitude as we can before coming down into the camp. I think back to her, hoping that my plan will work and not get me or anyone else killed. Okay, I guess that makes sense. Hmmm, yeah, we want to get the drop on them but still be reactant ourselves.
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That sounds better, and speaking of which I think I see their camp. It looks like there are still only the four men, one cage and the female. Indeed it will.
As Charlotte starts to descend into the trees just above the camp, things start to happen fast, and in almost a slow motion for me. She lets out an almighty roar that shakes the trees around her and has the skinny man stumbling back and falling down. Shit, this is going to take a bit longer than I thought. Char replies back. Luckily none of them are very good with their weapons, ha-ha.
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