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Literature and Social Change


Today’s New York Times Book Review published a brilliant exploration of Wallace Stegner’s Fiction. It has relevance today in examples of Stegner’s works that illuminate the conflict embedded in Western individualism contrasted with a simultaneous longing for community and “home”. “Wallace Stegner and the Conflicted Soul of the West” by A.O. Scott gives readers insights that ring true at this very moment in our history and thus call us to return to the rich literature with which Stegner endowed our country and the world. It is a wonderful review of Stegner’s major works.


John Steinbeck warned would-be writers that all literature must uplift the human spirit or be pointless. His works shifted attitudes, informed while lifting the hearts of Americans. The Grapes of Wrath, East of Eden, and his WWII cautionary tale, The Moon is Down are examples of his commitment to write responsibly. Much of what he wrote emanated from direct experience growing up in the central valley region of California.

Last week on National Public Radio OnPointe program, three authors discussed their novels and insights that are illustrative of how or how not to respond to  the Covid-19 Pandemic.

Lawrence Wright     The End of October

Geraldine Brooks     Year of Wonders

Tom Perotta              The Leftovers 

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