Up til a few months ago I'd never even heard of Wallace Stegner. That's criminal, really. THE BIG ROCK CANDY MOUNTAIN is an eerie exploration of the good ol' American Dream that somehow hasn't gotten even a fraction of the recognition it deserves, and I'm not sure why--maybe because it's more than a bit depressing, or because a pretty sizable chunk of the book takes place in Canada, I don't know, but it makes me sad that this book isn't more widely read (or perhaps I'm assuming that, because I hadn't heard of it til recently, nobody else knows about it either--maybe this book is widely read, and I just didn't know).
Rogue writes a stupendous summary of MOUNTAIN; I refer to her review. I will say that Stegner is a masterful writer--absolutely masterful--and that his prose stopped me several times midsentence and forced me back to read some phrase, some brilliant arrangement of words over again. Also, Elsa Mason is probably one of the very best characters I've come across lately (excepting, possibly, Seymour Glass).