The Spectator Bird

  • by Wallace Stegner
  • Narrated by Edward Herrmann
  • 7 hrs and 51 mins
  • Unabridged Audiobook

Publisher's Summary

Joe Allston is a retired literary agent who is, in his own words, "killing time before time gets around to killing me." His parents and his only son are long dead, leaving him with neither ancestors nor descendants, tradition nor ties. His job, trafficking the talent of others, had not been his choice. He passes through life as a spectator. But a postcard from a friend causes him to return to the journals of a trip he had taken years before. The memories of that trip to his mother's birthplace move through layers of time and meaning, and reveal that Joe Allston isn't quite spectator enough.

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What the Critics Say



National Book Award Winner, 1976

"Elegant and entertaining. . . .Every scene is adroitly staged and each effect precisely accomplished." (The Atlantic)

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Customer Reviews

Most Helpful

outstanding narration

The narration was great; book was very engrossing, but denouement a bit disappointing for me.
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- Alan Tripp

Maybe it's a case of timing...

I hate to say this because I have loved every Stegner I've read so far. But Joe Allson's tedious self-absorption grated on me after a while; don't see how his wife put up with it. The excellent narration only emphasized the petulant whining of the protagonist. I'm of an age where reflections, whether sweet, bitter, regretful, angry or content, are to be expected of me, and I comply. But while I may be approaching the end with some trepidation, and spend way too much time contemplating life and not always positively, I refuse to allow myself to be an Allston. Perhaps it's because unlike Joe, I still have work which I will inhabit until I drop; it keeps me joyfully and necessarily occupied. I may finish the book one of these days; right now it just irritates me.
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- Pamela

Book Details

  • Release Date: 09-18-2009
  • Publisher: Blackstone Audio, Inc.