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Publisher's Summary

Bo Mason, his wife, and his 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 his fortune in the hotel business, in new farmland, and, eventually, in illegal rum-running throughout the treacherous back roads of the American Northwest.

Based largely on his own childhood, Stegner has created a masterful, harrowing saga of a family trying to survive during the lean years of the early 20th century. It is the conflict between the hardscrabble existence and Bo's pursuit of the frontier myth and of the American dream that gives the book such resonance and power.

©1938 1940, 1942, 1943 by Wallace Stegner; (P)2010 Blackstone Audio, Inc.

Critic Reviews

"Stegner has felt the spell of mountain and prairie, of drought, flood, and blizzard....a harrowing saga." - (New York Times)
"Stands out beautifully and unforgettably." (New Yorker)

What members say

Average Customer Ratings

Overall

  • 4.1 out of 5.0
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    484
  • 4 Stars
    324
  • 3 Stars
    157
  • 2 Stars
    58
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    24

Performance

  • 4.4 out of 5.0
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    473
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    198
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    70
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    16
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    12

Story

  • 4.2 out of 5.0
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    204
  • 3 Stars
    116
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    36
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    11
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  • Overall
  • Performance
  • Story

Written about late 30"s

About a bootlegger and his family. Well written and interesting. About three short slow parts. The story of a family and their problems.

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A transcendent work.

For some reason I was under the mistaken impression that this book had been written recently, and never veered from that misconception during my reading of it. It was complex, tough, unflinching and unsentimental in such a contemporary way, and expressed views and emotions that I wouldn't have thought were delved into in another era.
I was shocked at the end when the copyrights were mentioned, to find out it was written in 1938. Its a reminder of the universal human experience that transcends time and place. I can't imagine a more beautifully rendered performance, or a more beautifully written story, one that moved me to tears many times. This is the gold standard for what an audiobook can be.

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Breathtaking!

Wallace Stegner's The Big Rock Candy Mountain is a beautiful and elegant telling of two generations in a family formed from the marriage between Harry (Bo) & Elsa at the start of the 20th century. They had come from two very different families, each of varying and different dysfunction, yet each quintessentially American families, the kind so many of us could find in our recent pasts dare we look.

I enjoyed the telling, and the narration, the characters, the plot and the subplots. I enjoyed it on many levels, as entertainment, through vicarious experience, as literature, prose verging on poetry at times. Most importantly, however, this book helped me understand myself and my origins in an utterly profound way. I cannot view myself, my parents and my siblings in the same way after experiencing The Big Rock Candy Mountain.

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Great listen.

The character and relationship development was very well done, but seemed a bit long. Excellent.

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Dismal and depressing.

A very well told written story of a dismal man and a nearly joyless life who made others feel bad about themselves and then made them feel guilty for it. Blah. The worst kind of human , in my opinion.
To me this epic seems like a waste of talent and time. I won't return it because I listened to the whole thing hoping that something- anything would brighten up. I don't feel
The least bit enriched having listened to it.
The audio performer was very good. I will seek out his narration .

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Too much graphic detail of killing animals

I wish I had known how brutal some of this story was. I'd have passed. I wouldn't recommend it to anyone.

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Angle of Repose better but this has heart

Would you listen to The Big Rock Candy Mountain again? Why?

It is very personal. I have lived in several of the western areas that this story takes place. Also I am near seventy years old and can identify with the values presented in this novel.

What other book might you compare The Big Rock Candy Mountain to and why?

Angle of Repose is better written in 1973 versus 1943 for Big Rock Candy Mountain. This is Wallace Stegner trying to understand his own father so it rings very true.

What does Mark Bramhall bring to the story that you wouldn’t experience if you just read the book?

Mark Bramhall is perfect for Bo Mason's voice and he does Elsa's very well. I read the book after I listened it and, of course, I could hear Mark Bramhall.

If you could rename The Big Rock Candy Mountain, what would you call it?

The American Tragedy

Any additional comments?

Elsa is a saint but Bo is far more interesting. It took me a long time to realize that Elsa was the strong one.

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Hard headed man and his family story.

The characters in this man's family are different and well described. Their interactions with the father take them through a roller coaster life of hopes, dreams, a few successes, but mostly failures and disappointments. I hoped along with them and looked forward to better results...but alas, to no avail.

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Brilliant!

Would you listen to The Big Rock Candy Mountain again? Why?

I will listen to this again and again

Have you listened to any of Mark Bramhall’s other performances before? How does this one compare?

Listening to Mark Bramhall is like listening to Stegner himself. Wonderful.

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  • Story

Very interesting book! Realistic characters

Would you recommend this audiobook to a friend? If so, why?

Yes, if they are interested in how people lived in the 1900's.

What did you like best about this story?

Realistic characters

Which scene was your favorite?

Chet climbing on the rafters

If you could rename The Big Rock Candy Mountain, what would you call it?

Home is Wherever You Are

Any additional comments?

It is very long, so be prepared to do a lot of stopping and picking it back up again!