5 March (1968): Wallace Stegner to Avis DeVoto

Here, Wallace Stegner writes to Avis DeVoto, a prominent editor of culinary writing and the wife of the historian, Bernard Devoto. In addition to updating her on the status of The Uneasy Chair, his biography of her husband, Stegner describes the migration of his son, writer Page Stegner, to UC Santa Cruz, where he would serve as a professor for over twenty-five years.


Dear Avis,

Bless you, then all’s well. If you don’t hear from me for a long time then you’ll know that I am puttering away at the novel, and in my spare time reading DeVoto over, and maundering around among the papers. Nothing’s going to happen very suddenly, but let us hope it will happen surely. I kind of had the feeling all along that I should tackle Benny, but I always had the feeling too that he was too big a coconut for this squirrel to handle. He probably is. But I don’t see any other squirrels around.

We’re a little frantic at the moment with an addition to the house (in anticipation of Armageddon, and not as a bomb shelter but a guest room and bath, on the theory that even in Armageddon some friend might need a bed). And also Page is moving to the Santa Cruz campus of the University of California, and has bought a house, details of which are handled by guess who. We were down there last weekend looking the place over in anticipation of the arrival of the whole family on March 10. Naturally the whole house needs painting, etc. guess who will be wielding one of the brushes. But it’s pleasant to have them within an hour of us, and Page is so red hot among the books lately (he followed his Nabokov book with a novel, The Edge, and now has just turned in a Portable Nabokov and a text book o christ) that I need him around to stir my flagging ambition.

Which right now needs to confront the income tax situation. O christ again.



From Wallace Stegner: his life and work. Stegner, Wallace, and Jackson J. Benson. New York: Viking, 1996.