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Author Archive: "Rachel Pastan"

Lady of the Snakes

There's a great passage toward the beginning of Wallace Stegner's novel Crossing To Safety in which Larry Morgan, in transit from California to Madison, Wisconsin, with his young wife in1937, enters his new state from the west in a hard rain. They pass "browning September cornfields, and pigs knee-deep in muddy pens," driving through Platteville, Mineral Point, and Mount Horeb before the wiper blade breaks and Larry has to drive the rest of the way with his head out the window, water streaming down his face.

I arrived in Madison in 1991 with my soon-to-be husband, like the Morgans, shortly before the beginning of the academic year. We came from the east and arrived, not in the rain, but in the middle of a heat wave. Larry reports that "traffic led us directly into State Street," but we had a lot of trouble finding our way downtown from the new highway, and as dusk fell we were thrilled and relieved when we saw, at last, the gleaming Capitol dome.

Nonetheless, the memory of the Morgans's entrance shadowed mine. I ...

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