The Big Rock Candy Mountain

The Big Rock Candy Mountain Bo Mason his wife Elsa and their two boys live a transient life of poverty and despair Drifting from town to town and from state to state the violent ruthless Bo seeks out his fortune in the hote

  • Title: The Big Rock Candy Mountain
  • Author: Wallace Stegner
  • ISBN: 9780140139396
  • Page: 435
  • Format: Paperback
  • Bo Mason, his wife, Elsa, and their two boys live a transient life of poverty and despair Drifting from town to town and from state to state, the violent, ruthless Bo seeks out his fortune in the hotel business, in new farmland, and, eventually, in illegal rum running through the treacherous back roads of the American Northwest Stegner portrays than thirty years inBo Mason, his wife, Elsa, and their two boys live a transient life of poverty and despair Drifting from town to town and from state to state, the violent, ruthless Bo seeks out his fortune in the hotel business, in new farmland, and, eventually, in illegal rum running through the treacherous back roads of the American Northwest Stegner portrays than thirty years in the life of the Mason family in this masterful, harrowing saga of people trying to survive during the lean years of the early twentieth century.

    One thought on “The Big Rock Candy Mountain”

    1. Towards the end of this epic story, Bruce Mason, who was a first year law student barely 20 years old (having skipped a few grades), began keeping a journal. It was not a log of his activities or thoughts on the issues of the day, but rather an attempt to understand a complicated family dynamic with a flawed father driving it. He said the journal was like author’s notes -- another of the many parallels between Bruce and Stegner himself. Both had a saintly mother, a combustible father, an athle [...]

    2. Reading Wallace Stegner is like having a really great first boyfriend. He ruins you for anyone who comes later. Sometimes he's so good that you don't even want anyone after him.The Big Rock Candy Mountain is the book that should have won Stegner the Pulitzer Prize long before he wrote Angle of Repose. I've read commentary indicating that Big Rock Candy Mountain is largely autobiographical. If that is true, my heart aches for the little boy that was Wallace Stegner. Perhaps those early painful ex [...]

    3. On the Big Rock Candy Mountain Where the cops have wooden legs, And the handouts grow on bushes, And the hens lay soft-boiled eggs, Where the bulldogs all have rubber teeth And the cinder dicks are blind—I’m a-gonna go Where there ain’t no snow, Where the rain don’t fall And the wind don’t blow On the Big Rock Candy Mountain.#This is a novel about chasing rainbowsBig, handsome Bo (Harry) Mason has many talents. But Bo is bored, restless, driven to find the gold at the end of the rainbo [...]

    4. 4.5★If you’ve read Stegner, a man I consider one of America’s national treasures, you will already know his writings are dense. The reader cannot be hurried through. Patience and thoughtfulness are required to appreciate the journey he will take you on, no instant gratification to be found. Unless you love prose for its own sake. This one is divided into ten sections and that’s how I consumed it for a week and a half. Years ago while reading Angle of Repose and Crossing to Safety I recal [...]

    5. I feel spent, having finished this book. I took more time reading it than any book in recent memory - and it wasn't only its 563 pages that made it a long read. I had to read with a pen at the ready, so many ideas and images and thoughts I wanted to highlight.The Big Rock Candy Mountain is a western book. A character study. A journey. But not a there-and-back-again book like Bilbo Baggins wrote. It's a go and go again kind of journey, searching ever further afield for that one thing that will ma [...]

    6. I can in all honesty not say that this was one of my heartfelt, best books ever. But can say convincingly that it was an excellent autbiographical novel. Perhaps there was a scattering of way too much words all over the tale. Too long. Too wordy. So many novels have been written about the American west and the deeper meaning behind the search for get-quick-rich-schemes, the big rock candy mountain, over the next rise, something for nothing, an improved world, and/or get away from man's own natur [...]

    7. What Stegner might call a big three-master, this family saga quasi-autobiographically traces the Mason family from their ignominious Midwestern roots through a series of get-rich-quick blunders that takes them from Oregon to Saskatchewan to Montana to Salt Lake to Reno. Narrated objectively, the book's emotional compass is the family's youngest son, Stegner's version of himself, and the catharsis of this book is what makes its best moments remarkably fine and what overloads the circuitry in the [...]

    8. I enjoyed this book a lot and was going to write one of those long rambling reviews that truly good books deserve (you know: the kind of review that throws in 17 million samples of the author's great writing and 17 million of your own thoughts about life and literature and that make you sound like a completely egotistical pseudo intellectual ass). But, try as I might, that's not happening today. Lucky you! I'll just say this instead: The character development and the writing are fantastic and ce [...]

    9. There was no candy on Wallace Stegner's Big Rock Candy Mountain. But there was a rock that set heavily on my heart as I read and the rock got bigger and bigger. At 576 pages, with 10 parts that spanned the 1890s to 1930s, this is a long novel which made the trek up this mountain quite painful and at times almost unbearable. Here's why. (view spoiler)[ The Big Rock Candy Mountain is a story about a man's relentless pursuit of quick riches and success and the destruction it brought upon himself an [...]

    10. 'The Big Rock Candy Mountain' vividly describes how the fantasy concept 'The American Dream' actually plays out in reality. It doesn't matter the historical era in the book is from 1900 to the 1930's, or that it takes place primarily in the American and Canadian West. Only technology and medical care separates the events from that period and our current time. I am mystified why some people believe now, and many more believed widely throughout many societies in past centuries, that intense long b [...]

    11. The story of Bo Mason and Else. He is a talented dreamer with a large dose of wanderlust, who works hard at his dreams, but seems to always see them drift away. She is an escapee from an unhappy home who is smitten with Bo as an 18-year-old. Marriage ensues, children, and hardship. This is a great American saga, covering the main characters from adolescence to old age. It gives us a look at western North America (US and Canada) at the end of the 19th century into the mid 20th. There are times wh [...]

    12. My first Wallace Stegner novel! I am very pleased to have that bridge crossed (all puns intended). It's a story of family,searching for home, escape and return, survival against adversity, the American dream gone wrong, and ultimately, forgiveness.Told by multiple narrators, the four members of the Mason family, the story covers some thirty plus years in the life of Elsa, the man she comes to love and marry, Bo, and their two sons, Chet and Bruce. During those years, there is love, humor, anguis [...]

    13. I hesitate to write much since I am incapable of conveying how deeply this tragically intricate novel moved me. I mostly tend to read American and German literature from the first half of the 20th century. If that strikes a chord with you, I think, like me, you’ll love this book as I did, from the first word to the last.Stegner’s tale is an American saga, not about gods and heroes but, much like Hamsun’s Growth of the Soil and Laxness’s Independent People, about common folk who pioneer a [...]

    14. Why couldn't Stegner be decent and write a book with an antagonist toward whom I could detachedly direct my righteous indignation? Instead, he wrote the Big Rock Candy Mountain with Bo, who is not one of Cormac McCarthy's depraved evil doers. Jarringly, and despite what you might believe otherwise, Bo is me, only in different circumstances. When Bo lashes out at his children or disappoints his wife or goes after another pipe dream that will have him raking in the dollars, it is me. How could he [...]

    15. This is Stegner's attempt to understand his parents and their making of his identity. He beautifully conceals who the real hero of the tale is until the last pages: the somewhat effeminate, philosophical son, who sees both his mother and his father for what they were, but doesn't ultimately begrudge them their sins. After all, they live on in his own history. He could only condemn them as much as he could condemn himself. The brilliant and intimate storytelling of Stegner's later novels (the not [...]

    16. What happens when a beautiful, gentle woman, unused to physical hardship, marries a stubborn, nomadic adventurer with an itch, a daredevil determined to realize the American dream and “make his pile” any way he can?We sure find out. This is Stegner’s second novel, epic in length and scope compared with his first book, a novella called Remembering Laughter, and in it he teaches himself what works and what doesn’t. What a gift for a reader to be able to watch that learning unfold. The dial [...]

    17. I'm on a Stegner kick. The Big Rock Candy Mountain drags your heart along for the ride as you read about two generations of the Mason family and their (mis)adventures scratching out a life in succeeding versions of America's western frontier. The patriarch Bo Mason berates his wife Elsa and frightens his sons Chet and Bruce across more states than you can count. But even in the end, his insatiable taste for booms and busts remains endearing, or at least somehow forgivable. A little long towards [...]

    18. Wow.what can I say that can do justice to this book? It's quite a journey with Stegner's family, from before he was born until early adulthood. His father has grandiose ideas and a restless spirit and drags the family all over several states as well as Saskatchewan, Canada looking for the next "get rich quick" scheme. Although the book jacket synopsis calls Bo Mason (the character name for Stegner's dad) "ruthless and violent" he is more than that, a multi-layered character. It's fascinating to [...]

    19. This was a slow burn. At times difficult to read and at times heart wrenching . If you need a faster pace this might not be for you. If you want to feel like you actually know these characters by the end, then it is. I did read this with trepidation throughout, due to the volatile nature of the main character Bo Mason. Stegner for me has the ability to think of a story in his head and when he puts pen to paper it reads like you are there in the story. Very real. No gimmicks. This book is called [...]

    20. The Big Rock Candy Mountain is a story of a troubled family making its way through the early part of the 20th century as told from the alternating points of view of its members and in the 3rd person. The plot (as far as it goes) is driven by the father, an ambitious dreamer with anger management issues who seeks to “make his pile” through one get-rich scheme or another.Here’s the basic format of the book’s plot: Dad comes up with a far-fetched get-rich scheme. The scheme falls through. D [...]

    21. Good book. Lots of very flawed characters.Who’s to “blame” when a family goes wrong? "Blame" is in quotes because I wonder whether there is true blame. Can we be blamed for being ourselves, wanting our dreams/hopes/desires, carrying the hurts of our yesterdays? Can we be blamed for living by the confinements imposed on us by our past? I suppose, in a way, we can. We could break the pattern, change our destiny, etc. In theory, it's all possible. But it takes a very aware (of one's own issue [...]

    22. This book moved me to tears. Perhaps that is because I am in my seventies and have lived and witnessed much of what Wallace Stegner writes about. Perhaps it is because I have come to understand how complex human beings are and how easily they can bring injury and hardship upon the people they love.The novel begins in the year 1905 in Minnesota and ends in Utah in the 1930s. Its central character is Harry “Bo” Mason, a physically powerful, aggressive person who left his parents’ home at the [...]

    23. Wallace Stegner’s Angle of Repose is absolutely one of my favorite books. The beauty of Stegner’s prose combined with a plot that follows the challenges of settling in the West that my own ancestors faced makes it resonate with me deeply: From wishful goldmines in Nevada to bootlegging and moving and moving and moving and switching jobs over and over.I hoped I’d have the same reaction to The Big Rock Candy Mountain. It’s got much of the same beautiful prose and understanding of living in [...]

    24. This is such a raw, truth telling, gut wrenching read. If this is, as I have read it was, crafted to be loosely and liberally based around the story of the author and his father, then what a childhood he must have had and how remarkable that he grew to overcome those childhood experiences with such insight into the human psyche as he displays in his books. This is the third Stegner novel that I have read and all are deep, thought-provoking books that fully develop the characters and show them fr [...]

    25. The high rating is because it is flawless very detailed writing. Descriptions of the American West and of nature or the elements are all beautifully rendered. Title is descriptive of the footloose patriarch of the family and the story is as good as I expected. As if a blending of A River Runs Through It and Sinclair Lewis' Babbit in reverse(an anti-Babbit). And now the other side of this,though I did not drowse while reading,I was aware the book was longiiishhhh. Just this edge of painful becaus [...]

    26. A big fat sprawling novel with a fascinating story line. Exactly the kind of book I used to love to wallow in. Now, however, such books make me restless. I want more and at the same time I want less. The writing, of course, is good, if not lyrical. The plot was always believeable. I’d like to have been Stegnor’s editor, taking a blue pencils to those passages of endless description, and those sections where he felt compelled to explain every motive and every thought in his characters’ head [...]

    27. I don't know why it has taken me so long to read my way through Wallace Stegner's fiction, and it feels odd to be giving a novel published in 1943 such high marks as a compelling narrative that captures some of the rougher times in American history so powerfully.I'm sure all my praise for The Big Rock Candy Mountain has been offered before, but I'll offer it again. While the book starts slowly--Part I is the weakest part--it gathers strength as it unfurls the struggles of Harry "Bo" Mason, Elsa [...]

    28. “A man is not a static organism to be taken apart and analyzed and classified. A man is movement, motion, a continuum. There is no beginning to him. He runs through his ancestors, and the only beginning is the primal beginning of the single cell in the slime. The proper study of mankind is man, but man is an endless curve on the eternal graph paper, and who can see the whole curve?”A large, moving, and human novel about a star-crossed American family around the turn of the century who just c [...]

    29. This book lingers in my mind, a family saga of the boom-and-bust Northwest, drifting, struggling, rumrunning, hapless and hopeful, evidently a largely autobiographical book of this essential writer of the American West, he published in 1943. The Big Rock Candy Mountain is a mountain in Utah near where Stegner grew up, which took its name from the striped rock formations and, probably, from a hoboing song of the 1920s… There's an edition to which his student Robert Stone wrote the foreword--I'd [...]

    30. We meet so many variations of the protagonist Bo in life. I think Wallace Stegner is testament to human resilience. The character Bo, inspired by his own father is the polar opposite of the kind of man Stegner became. Environmentalist, teacher, good husband. This is a book that will stay with me for years to come. I discovered about halfway through that it's autobiographical in nature. The raw beauty of the prose, the never ending twists of plot and his obvious love of the land affected me deepl [...]

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