Well what do you know? It is Wallace Stegner's birthday today. I used to not really like Stegner that much until I read his simple story which I can't really remember the title of. In any case the story is about a faculty party where, it seems, the faculty are getting progressively more drunk, more gloomy, and more disturbed. The story ends with the main characters peering into the dark abyss of an arroyo that is cut into the rock just off the patio where the characters have slipped away from the bustle of the inside world to confront with some sort of existential, essential angst. The simplicity of the event and the unimportance of the characters contrasted against the dark chasm (of Nature) struck me as a rather clever way of capturing the essence of that anxiety and uncertainty to life.
I rather liked the story and his other short stories. The novel Angle of Repose is interesting too. I have not yet cracked Big Rock Candy Mountain, however, but might just do it this summer.