"She refused to be bored, chiefly because she wasn't boring." Zelda Fitzgerald

Thursday, June 10, 2010

Steinbeck is the Man

A and I read together, its one of the ways (as discussed in this post ) that I manage to fit literature into my life. We read on the daily commute occasionally, we read on long road trips and we sometimes even read in the evenings while we take turns getting ready for bed or after the little ones are down for the night instead of a movie or some other relaxy activity.
"Steinbeck's slippers" shoved under a quilt covered bed at the Steinbeck Museum
We both really love Steinbeck and our recent trip to California only reminded us. Excitingly, we have not even come close to reading his works and so there's still a lot out there to discover. We talked a little during that trip and then recently, when we finished our latest read about how we'd love to read more Steinbeck and, which one should we pick for our next tome?

A had never read The Grapes of Wrath. Never read it! Really! He's a very well-read guy so this kind of discovery is quite astonishing. I had read it which immediately made me feel very cool. (thank you public high school English teacher) These little moments of achievement in which I have done something intelligent that A hasn't are the kind of things we hold onto. *grin*
Dustbowl ephemera from The Steinbeck Center in Salinas
Even though I'd read it once and I'm not the kind of person who re-reads anything....ever. Still, I was more than happy to pick it for our next read-aloud. I loved the book the first time around and I know how much fun we both have reading Steinbeck together and I'm certain A will love it which will make it a complete joy to live through again as a couple.

So, this week the copy we ordered off of Amazon arrived in the mail and we ripped it right open in the van and proceeded to make story-hour out of the traffic jam we were stuck in on our way home. Such fun. I really love Steinbeck. And folks, granted, I'm still rather deeply hormonal but still, I was crying within pages of the front cover. The man is a word wizard with such an empathetic and beauty probing gift that I can't help but wish we had time for one long non-stop reading time. It was so hard to see our driveway approaching and know that it was time to wrap it up. I've been salivating ever since about when we'll get another little moment to dive in again.
Steinbeck quote about our local area

And today, thinking about the whole story and the characters (I do love Ma Joad) I was stumbling around through YouTube and discovered accidently that Woodie Guthrie, one of those golden American songwriters had a similiar fascination. He wrote several rambling songs, set to plucky guitar accompaniment that are on the subject of The Dust Bowl, the Great Depression, Tom Joad himself, and the migrant workers that Steinbeck was so absorbed by. Enjoy the following:

Also, check out this amazing painting by artist Ashley Cecil who was commission by Oxfam to illustrate the poverty of modern farmers in the third world. Love the brilliant colors, the swirling dust coming from the bowl of the harvesting woman and elegant use of emotion. Lest we forget, The Dust Bowl was not just a quaint event in American history, it has just rolled on to other places where mothers still struggle to feed their little ones and the hand to mouth life drives families on in desperation.

And folks, if you somehow managed to escape school without reading Grapes...do yourself a favor and pick up this brilliant bittersweet American masterpiece. I also highly recommend Travels With Charley and Of Mice and Men.


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