The Rafish and the Earthy


John Steinbeck, Great American Novelist. From "the Grapes of Wrath" for which he won a Pulitzer, to the classic "Of Mice and Men"to his autobiographical "Travels With Charlie", John Steinbeck has portrayed humanity in all its weakness and splendor. He often focused on migrant worker or union issues, drawing from incidents near his home in Salinas, California. He incorporated his love of biology, history and music into his stories. He even helped write the screenplay for Alfred Hitchcock's movie, "Lifeboat".
Here is my cherished Steinbeck paperback collection. I've found these at thrift stores and garage sales, all costing under a dollar apiece. I think it's funny how the paperback versions are often touted as pulp fiction with such lines as "ribald", "rafish", "seductive", superbly uninhibited"and "shamelessly impulsive". Steinbeck's books are touching and gently funny, describing the human condition in fresh, but completely recognizable detail. "The Wayward Bus" is one of my favorites, describing the experience a group of travelers have together when their bus breaks down. "The Moon is Down" is another great one, about a town that fights back against the Nazis.
One of the greatest things about John Steinbeck is that he's experienced most of what his characters have. Fruit picking, Hod Carrying, construction, newspaper work, he's even been a chemist and a surveyer. His life was certainly lived to the fullest, and he was lucky enough to go from hardship and deprivation to worldwide fame and recognition within it.
I like the idea of this classic literature, these timeless stories being carried around in back pockets in the 1950's, being devoured like a cheap novella.

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