Why couldn't Stegner be decent and write a book with an antagonist toward whom I could detachedly direct my righteous indignation? Instead, he wrote the Big Rock Candy Mountain with Bo, who is not one of Cormac McCarthy's depraved evil doers. Jarringly, and despite what you might believe otherwise, Bo is me, only in different circumstances. When Bo lashes out at his children or disappoints his wife or goes after another pipe dream that will have him raking in the dollars, it is me. How could he be anyone else? His emotions are mine, only amplified. His intentions, his thoughts and his dreams are also mine and yet when I look at him, at myself, it is with loathing. I want to look away, to deny that he exists and that anyone could possibly write my story, could put me in a different time, (though in the same place, much of the novel is set in Seattle) and reveal my actions so rawly to anyone who cares to read them. It is embarrassing and it hurt to turn the pages, but I couldn't stop. I had to know what I would do next. Surely I would redeem myself? Surely my heart-of-gold would be enough to save the ones I love? Could Stegner really know my feelings and failings better than even I do? He did. He wrote them truthfully and tragically and I am better for having endured reading them. The Big Rock Candy Mountain is a course correction wrapped in a brilliantly written novel that gripped me like few books ever have before.