Category Archives: Grapes of Wrath

The Grapes of Wrath over 21 Years

grapes of wrathOn this last day of 2012 I thought I should finally post my review of The Grapes of Wrath by John Steinbeck. Or, more accurately, Andi is making me post my review because I should have done it weeks ago!

When I first saw The Grapes of Wrath on the list, I remembered that I had read it in either high school or college. I also remembered the general gist of the story line – that it follows a family as they make their way from Oklahoma to the promised land of California during the Great Depression. I also indelibly remembered the haunting but hopeful last scene with Rose Of Sharon. And really, the fact that I remembered one scene in stark detail from a book I read at least twenty years ago is a testimony to the author’s enduring and powerful narrative throughout the book.

Generally, my thoughts while reading through the book fall into one of these themes throughout the tome:

  • I appreciate the ability to save, eliminate all debt and stay financially solvent.
  • I appreciate my grandparents and everyone who lived through the Great Depression. Cloth napkins, saving used wrapping paper, washing and re-using plastic forks? Go ahead – I understand it now.
  • I appreciate my children and the relatively easy and safe way they came into the world.
  • I appreciate being able to work doing something I love in a supportive environment.
  • I appreciate the hard life of a turtle (OK, that one’s just a nod to the first 50 pages of the novel).

As a related side note, this week I did a major post-Christmas clean out of our home, and unearthed a box of old photo albums and diaries in the process. I read the ones from my junior and senior years of college (1991-1992). Now those are some page-turners, but I’ll save that for a future post! (No, not really.)

Suffice it to say that as I was paging through them, I read an entry of how I was tired of going out every Saturday night, so I had my crowd go on without me and sat down to read The Grapes of Wrath, which I should’ve done earlier in the week. (I see a trend here.) I even underlined the title in my diary, as every good English major would do. So I can unequivocally say that I last read The Grapes of Wrath in April of 1991!

On a less related side note, I also rediscovered through my diary entries that I saw the stage production of Les Miserables, my fave, every year for 3 out of my 4 college years in various locales. Noteworthy only because the last one, save for one about 10 years ago, was detailed in that same 1991 diary and I just saw the movie version this weekend. It was interesting to have two literary parallels this week, 21 years apart.

So onto 2013 – join us tomorrow as we fire up the Kindles and/or crack the spine of Under the Volcano by Malcolm Lowry.

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Steinbeck, You Handsome Devil!

John Steinbeck was born in 1902 and grew up in Salinas, California. From the photos I saw, I think he was pretty handsome.A Young Steinbeck He had three sisters and a typical childhood.  His father had various jobs through the years to support the family and his mother was a school teacher.  It is through his mother’s love of reading and writing that Steinbeck grew his.

As with many of the literary geniuses, Steinbeck never finished college.  He attended Stanford on and off again mostly to appease his parents.  He finally admitted college was not for him and sought the life of a writer.  Heading to New York City as many men and women do to seek their careers, Steinbeck found work as a construction worker and newspaper reporter.  This was sshort-lived and he headed back to California, where he took a job as a caretaker in Lake Tahoe.  He loved the land.  This is portrayed through much of his work.

Steinbeck was married three times and had two sons.  He is best known for Grapes of Wrath and Of Mice and Men.  What I found interesting is that he also enjoyed the company of many naturalists and is co-author of a few non-fiction nature books.  Steinbeck would travel with his friends as the writer and them as the scientists.  An interesting combination!  As most know Steinbeck won the Nobel Prize in literature and the Pulitzer Prize.  No easy feat!

His last booJohn Steinbeck Elderk was a travel book comprising his thoughts, observations and musing during a cross-country trek in a RV with his dog.  His son Thom said that Steinbeck knew his life was short and wanted to see the country one last time.

So heeeeeeeere we go another tome in review!!

Grab a copy of the Grapes of Wrath and read along… I dare you!