The Spectator Bird by Wallace Stegner was first published in 1976 and was the winner of the National Book Award in 1977. I'm glad I didn't read it when it was originally published and waited to read it now. It is a sometimes melancholy, very realistic elegant little book. Stegner is a brilliant writer and manages to speak volumes in a little over 200 pages. Reading Stegner is to truly see a gifted writer's craft. What he manages to convey with a few choice words is incredible. This is a book that needs to be savored and reread to appreciate the author's skill. It's also a book that is better appreciated with a little age under your belt.
The plot is deceptively straightforward. Retired literary agent Joe Allston receives a postcard from an old friend. This initiates Joe's search for a diary he kept during the trip where he and his wife met this friend. Between recounting their every day lives as retired senior citizens and Joe's reading the diary out loud to his wife, we are privy to the realistic portrait of a long time married couple and a retelling of a story from their past. I highly recommend The Spectator Bird.