All the Little Live Things

All the Little Live Things Joe Allston the retired literary agent of Stegner s National Book Award winning novel The Spectator Bird returns in this disquieting and keenly observed novel Scarred by the senseless death of thei

  • Title: All the Little Live Things
  • Author: Wallace Stegner
  • ISBN: 9780140154412
  • Page: 411
  • Format: Paperback
  • Joe Allston, the retired literary agent of Stegner s National Book Award winning novel, The Spectator Bird, returns in this disquieting and keenly observed novel Scarred by the senseless death of their son and baffled by the engulfing chaos of the 1960s, Allston and his wife, Ruth, have left the coast for a California retreat And although their new home looks like Eden,Joe Allston, the retired literary agent of Stegner s National Book Award winning novel, The Spectator Bird, returns in this disquieting and keenly observed novel Scarred by the senseless death of their son and baffled by the engulfing chaos of the 1960s, Allston and his wife, Ruth, have left the coast for a California retreat And although their new home looks like Eden, it also has serpents Jim Peck, a messianic exponent of drugs, yoga, and sex and Marian Catlin, an attractive young woman whose otherworldly innocence is far appealing and far dangerous.

    One thought on “All the Little Live Things”

    1. Joe Allston, retired literary agent, settles with his wife Ruth in a peaceful country home in California. Soon two people arrive who will upset his equilibrium for very different reasons. The first of these is Jim Peck, a young hippy whom Joe discovers on his property. Egged on by Ruth he reluctantly allows Jim to camp there. It isn’t long before Jim has a thriving community of acolytes. He is the bane of Joe’s life, but Joe hesitates to evict him from the property for a number of reasons. T [...]

    2. Wallace Stegner was a very meditative writer. This, I think, is why some people have a hard time getting through his books. There's a lot of rumination on the part of the characters, while the plot sits on the back burner. With some authors this drives me crazy, but with Stegner I somehow have the patience to stay with the writing and savor it. I think it's because he articulated so many truths and feelings I've personally experienced. He handled difficult themes in such a soft way, with the per [...]

    3. While I have loved all of Stegner's novels I've read so far (Angle of Repose, Crossing to Safety, Spectator Bird), this one seems a little bit dated. In this companion to Spectator Bird, almost 70 Joe Allston rants and raves about the hippie barbarians doing their thing on a bit of his property in 1967 Los Altos Hills/Woodside. I kind of wish I had read this in 1967 when it was published, and I was still at Stanford, and Stegner was still in the nearby hills. I have no idea how autobiographical [...]

    4. “All The Little Live Things” is a title that connotes for me sprightliness, energy, and the promise of goodness. It was none of these things. It was, in fact, a very painful book to read, and were it not for the beauty of Stegner’s prose, I might have given it up. It is not a book to read when one is feeling wretched and vulnerable.Written in 1967, it preceded The Spectator Bird (1976), winner of the 1977 National Book Award, which continued the story of Joe and Ruth Allston who lost their [...]

    5. One of my favorite books of all time is Stegner's CROSSING TO SAFETY--it was a very profound story of the transformational potential of friendship. This book also explored that theme, but from such a painful perspective that I suffered as I read.Stegner's writing is beautiful, but the anger and social prejudice expressed in this novel did not appeal to me. I believe that he was an English professor at Stanford in the late 60's when this book was written. I can only imagine that as he anticipated [...]

    6. Some stories are pure entertainment. Some are built for other purposes, as with Wallace Stegner’s, All The Live Little Things. There was not much that I found entertaining, but if I measure the story by it’s impact on me, by it’s provocative nature and wide open doorway to self-reflection, then it was a fabulous piece of writing.My feelings about the book were hard won. I found the beginning slow going, the writing a bit dated and the whole experience laborious. I had trouble relating to t [...]

    7. I always seem to reread this in rhythm or synchronicity with something in life. I actually listened to it, and I was addicted to Edward Herrmann's voice, it was a perfect complement to the narrator's personality, and I wonder again and again why this book is so powerful to me. Set in the 60's with a curmudgeonly charmer who has conservative views in the sleepwalking of his retirement. I don't identify with that, and I really actually don't identify with the most important female character, Maria [...]

    8. Much of the first half of the book is typical story setup: introduction of characters, setting the scene, and the like, which is fine, although it's dragged out here with the focus on squatter Jim Peck (technically, he has Joe's grudging permission to stay on the property). As the hippie-ish young man makes himself gradually into a more permanent fixture, than just pitching tent, Joe's level of resentment grows as did my fatigue. Second half of the story contains flashbacks to Joe's past, that [...]

    9. This one was hard to read because Stegner lets you know, in the first few pages, that it will be sad, and it's heavy on introspection. The narrator/main character is lovable and infuriating, funny but unwilling to bend or change. He figures things out the hard way. I wept through the final chapters.

    10. Wallace Stegner is one of my favorite authors, and this book just solidified that. It's beautifully written, the story is mesmerizing, for me. Stegner writes about people and everyday life so quietly stunningly that the reader is unaware of getting enmeshed in the story. Joe Allston and his wife, Ruth, retired to a small rural town in California after the death of their only child, a son -- an unruly young man who defies his educated parents in every way. The couple seeks peace.Along comes Jim P [...]

    11. Stegner is a master craftsman. I have read Crossing to Safety and Angel of Repose and fell in love with his prose. This particular book came as a recommendation from a friend who lived during the turbulent era of the late 60s as a new professor on college campus in the Midwest The book captures in the dialogue of the main characters the ideological tensions of that era. However, this is also a powerful book about human connection, sacrifice, self absorption, and significant loss as it explores t [...]

    12. I just finished the book 30 minutes ago and it ends up as quite a beating. I would call it overwrought and too sentimental in tone, and unconvincing in the pace of the development of Marian and Joe’s relationship. The underlying philosophies at work I won't attempt to unpack at the moment but I don’t see much hope in any of it. Probably not by coincidence, the author somewhat successfully creates in the reader what Allston experienced himself – the anticipation of pain and the experience o [...]

    13. If I complained that my last read lacked character development ("Foundation"), this book is the antidote. It is nearly ALL character development - peering inside the head of curmudgeonly old Joe Allston. He's not always likeable, but he's always entertaining in his crotchety, clever honesty.It's a beautifully written, vividly descriptive tale - so much so that I can smell and taste and feel that summer in California in the 60s. I'm always amazed when authors can use words to paint a tangible pic [...]

    14. One of the best insider-views of marriage I've read, from the point of view of a husband who is aware, awake, and lives with a strong connection to the values he has chosen to govern his life. What really strikes me is the authenticity of his relationship with his wife- sometimes he feels distant, sometimes close, but almost always she evokes a response or feeling in him with her commentary and observations. For me, it captures the wonderfully weird experience of being connected to another human [...]

    15. So, so good. Read my review here8/2/2017 re-read - How funny, it looks like I was reading this book at almost the exact same time of year two years ago. If you asked me to name my very favorite book, I would quickly respond All the Little Live Things. There's just so much to this novel - themes of what it means to live, vulnerability, relationships, freedom, grief, death, aging. The story is so rich, in terms of theme, imagery, the quality of the prose. I hate to gush too much because I don't wa [...]

    16. Listening to Edward Herrmann read Stegner aloud has got to be one of the most delightful things in literature. This story follows Joe and his wife Ruth for about 6 months; they are retired and making a new life in rural Northern California and trying to fit in (or not) with various neighbor-characters. But, that's not really what the book is about. Driving an exciting, twisting plot line is not Stegner's style, but he is a master at delving into humanity and all our facets and bringing the good [...]

    17. Powerful, powerful book. A book that, when you finish, you can do nothing but sit back and contemplate what matters in life. No, that's not quite right. You contemplate why everything matters in life. The good and the bad, the controllable and uncontrollable, the mundane and the life ending. Every little thing, no matter how insignificant or utterly destructive, must happen the way it happens. To turn your head away would be to ignore life itself.

    18. Wow! Stegner is a master of literature, I wonder how I found him only lately while hunting for Pulitzer Award winners. He handles difficult themes in such a soft way, and with each book I enjoy him more. I have to admit that he seems to always start slow, so some patience is needed to get into the story while it sits on a back burner, but then Stegner hits strong and that's his amazing power. Stegner makes me lough with his very unique sense of humor (both this book and Angle of Repose are narra [...]

    19. Slow-moving and sentimental, but I loved it anyway because of Stegner's writing. The story plods along at times, but then Stegner slips in something so beautifully written and true that it pulls you up short. His books always give me a lot to think about, and this one was no different.The book tries to grapple with the horrible, random and unfair things that can happen in a life that also contains intense beauty and joy. He (and his characters) consider the choice we all have to retreat and hide [...]

    20. This was such a tender, thoughtful book, about a late-middle aged suburban couple retiring from the world in into the Bay Area countryside, and encountering a trespassing hippie couple who troubles their retreat. Beautifully written, honest and without melodrama, considering the issues of the sixties as only a novel can. I found I preferred this contemporary West to his historical works--belongs on the shelf with Updike and Bellow as well as Kesey.

    21. Stegner writes well, but the subject matter - a California retiree clashing with the hippie he allows to squat on his property, hippie culture and free love, and the retiree and his wife's friendship with a young couple affected by cancer, did not appeal to me. I felt trapped in the 60s and it was not pleasant.

    22. Read this probably 30 years ago, but the story, characters and their relationships, and the feelings are stillin my memory. Because of the prose Stegner is one of my all time favorite writers.

    23. There are few books that I have read that rise to the level of perfection like this novel (looking for comparisons, I'm reminded of Curzio Malaparte's Kaputt, Jose Saramago's The Year of the Death of Ricardo Reis, the poetic ouevre of Alejandra Piznarik and the stories of Kafka. Every single line is a gem, a truism, something to be highlighted, written down and saved in a compendium of great literary lines and savored, pondered over, for years, for a lifetime. This is my first reading of Stegner [...]

    24. A wonderful and tragic story of the beauties and evil found in life; and of our lives. As I read this I couldn’t help but wonder: where is Wallace Stegner in the lists of great 20th Century American writers? While not as epic as his masterpiece, Big Rock Candy Mountain, this book was masterfully written. Stegner tells the story of Joe Alliston, a retired publisher, who retires to a bucolic California estate to escape, among other things, the memories of his son who ‘s death still plagues him [...]

    25. This book is a sequel to The Spectator Bird, which I loved. I read the books back-to-back, which may have been a mistake. As with all novels by Wallace Stegner, the use of language is beautiful. The issue for me was that I got tired of the cranky protagonist. In this novel, his concerns are those of an old white guy threatened by the counterculture. This should not discourage you from reading this book, but rather a recommendation that you not read it immediately after The Spectator Bird.

    26. The title implies that the book will be happy and light and maybe give the peace and joy that Joe and his wife, Ruth are seeking when they move to California. They are dealing with the death (and apparent suicide) of their son and hope to find peace in the countryside. Instead, they- or at least he- finds aggravation and more sorrow, but they also get the chance to love someone truly special in the character of Marian. As I read, I was so frustrated that only Joe and me seemed to think it was NO [...]

    27. "All the Little Live Things" is the second Stegner novel that I have read, and it is just as beautifully written and poignantly thought provoking as the last. I love how Stegner’s style and his characters make me think about my own life and point of view. For me this book was a real enjoyment. The story centers on Joe Allston and his wife Ruth who have recently retired to a country house in Northern California. Their retirement, however, is not just meant to be an escape from their careers but [...]

    28. Again, Wallace Stegner has done it for me, in this intimate novel of life, death, nature, accepting and learning. There is always so much of the author in his books, which I enjoy. Revolving around an elderly couple's relationship and deep abiding friendship with a younger couple who have moved to nearby land, as neighbors. Cranky Joe and his kind wife, Ruth, befriend the young couple and become almost the parents they didn't have. Each teaching the other what goes around and around in this big [...]

    29. It may seem overly generous to compare Stegner to Tolstoy or even Shakespeare, but I don't think it's out of the question. With each book I read from him I am further struck by how much of the human experience he captures and by how well he does it.All the Little Live Things is a book of contrasts more than it's a book of plot. The story revolves around an aging couple juxtaposed with both a young couple and with the children of the 60's in a few of their various incarnations. All are represente [...]

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