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JOHN STEINBECK by Catherine Reef

JOHN STEINBECK

By Catherine Reef

Age Range: 12 - 15

Pub Date: April 22nd, 1996
ISBN: 0-395-71278-5
Publisher: Clarion

 In this captivating portrait of the restless, versatile Steinbeck, Reef follows up her stellar Walt Whitman (1995) by illuminating the life and work of another wayward icon of the American cultural scene. Reef sketches Steinbeck's private life in broad strokes, focusing more closely on his development as a writer: the early (and late) influence of the works of Thomas Malory and Robert Louis Stevenson, his profound response to encounters with hoboes and migrant workers in California, the inspiration he drew from travel and friends. He is seen as an active, sensitive man with a silly streak (he once bought a cannon and fired it off--41 times--to mark a wife's birthday) and no great interest in celebrity; Reef claims that Steinbeck wrote The Sea of Cortez, a book of natural history, to deflect public attention after the success of The Grapes of Wrath. Telling incidents, anecdotes, short passages, and sound bites reveal Steinbeck's character and talents; Reef's lucid look at her subject's language, experiments in narrative form, and unforgettable gallery of ``farmhands, townspeople, Mexican- Americans and hoboes'' will certainly kindle an interest in one who is, to too many readers, just another piece of homework. (b&w photos, bibliography, index) (Biography. 12-15)