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Wallace Stegner Weekend September 11, 2009

Posted by Galaxy in Local Happenings.
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Robert Gray–a bookseller at Northshire Books and columnist for Shelf Awareness–wrote a great article last week about the upcoming Wallace Stegner Centennial weekend at Highland Lodge. With his permission, we’re reprinting the article here.

Vermont Foliage Season with Wallace Stegner

A sound like a big crowd a good way off, excited and shouting, getting closer. We stand up and scan the empty sky. Suddenly there they are, a wavering V headed directly over our hilltop, quite low, beating southward down the central flyway and talking as they pass. We stay quiet, suspending our human conversation until their garrulity fades and their wavering lines are invisible in the sky.

They have passed over us like an eraser over a blackboard, wiping away whatever was there before they came.

“Oh, don’t you love them!” Charity says. “Sometimes when we stayed late in Vermont, or went up late for the color, we’d see and hear them like that, coming over Folsom Hill. Someday you’ve got to visit us there.”

Maybe it’s just the time of year, but I recalled that passage from Crossing to Safety (not word-for-word, of course. I had to look it up for the exact quotation) when I heard about the upcoming Wallace Stegner Centennial. This “literary weekend” will be held during foliage season, September 25-27, at the Highland Lodge, Greensboro, Vt., a town where Stegner often summered and the model for scenes in his celebrated novel. Featured speakers include Philip L. Fradkin, author of Wallace Stegner and the American West, and Stegner’s agent, Carl Brandt, of Brandt and Hochman.

Galaxy Bookshop, Hardwick, Vt., is one of the co-sponsors and will sell books at the event. Owner Linda Ramsdell notes: “Stegner’s works, especially Crossing to Safety, do still sell well, and better because of the local reference points. An earlier novel, Second Growth, also has many local reference points. Wallace Stegner was a great supporter of the Galaxy Bookshop, and in an earlier iteration of community collaboration, we were fortunate to sell books at the Greensboro Public Library when they presented him with an award.”

Anne T. Molleur Hanson, organizer of the celebration, explains that the genesis was “threefold.” Four years ago, the inn hosted a Reading Greensboro weekend, with a focus on Crossing to Safety and the belief that “acknowledging the many writers like Wallace Stegner who have summered or spent time in Greensboro (or even live here year round, like Anne Stuart) would be a wonderful way to celebrate Greensboro’s literary legacy.” In addition to Stegner, John Gunther and Margaret Mead are among the noted authors who called this village of fewer than 1,000 people their Green Mountain home away from home.

“Our Crossing to Safety night was well attended, especially by folks from here,” Hanson adds. “After the event, many people–several from afar–remarked on their hope that we would do another such event sometime.”

About six months ago, Hanson and Willie Smith, one of the Highland Lodge innkeepers, discussed hosting another literary weekend focusing specifically on Stegner, “who is known as a Western writer, but who had a clear fondness for the northeast, particularly Greensboro, to which his and wife Mary’s friends Peg and Phil Gray (portrayed as Charity and Sid Lang in Crossing to Safety) had introduced the Stegners in the late 1930s/early 1940s. My interest in hosting a Stegner event was in part due to my nearly 20-year long regret that although I grew up here, I never attended a Wallace Stegner reading, which he offered during many of the summers he was here.”

The final piece of the puzzle fell into place when Hanson learned that Philip Fradkin, “who had stayed here while researching his biography on Stegner, was, like me, a graduate of Williams College. I e-mailed Philip and asked if he would join us for a literary weekend celebrating Wallace Stegner. Philip agreed. He suggested we find sponsors to help us with the event. At that point I contacted our friend, neighbor, and favorite independent bookseller Linda Ramsdell, to ask if the Galaxy Bookshop would like to co-sponsor. Linda was enthusiastic and immediately on-board.”

Ramsdell adds that the “Hardwick area is becoming a model for ways that businesses and organizations work together to do things that no one entity can do alone. Attention has focused on the agricultural economy, but there are many examples outside of that sector too. Especially in this economy, the importance and benefits of collaborating are extremely tangible. The other aspect of the Galaxy area, which differs from many cities with local alliance organizations, is that it is a small place where people know each other and are friends. We have a vested interest in each other’s viability and success. It is very easy to see how money stays in our area and benefits accrue when we work with each other.”–Robert Gray (column archives available at Fresh Eyes Now)


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1. Wallace Stegner Weekend « Written in the Stars - September 24, 2009

[…] weekend at Highland Lodge. With his permission, we’re reprinting the article … Click for more Published: September 23, 2009 « Previous Post Next Post […]

2. wallace stegner – 海运女 - September 24, 2009

[…] Wallace Stegner Weekend « Written in the StarsRobert Gray–a bookseller at Northshire Books and columnist for Shelf Awareness–wrote a great article last week about the upcoming Wallace Stegner Centennial weekend at Highland Lodge. With his permission, we Share and Enjoy: […]


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