John Steinbeck

THE LAUREATE: John Steinbeck was born in California in 1902 to a dirt-poor family in dirt-poor farm country in California, which informed the majority of his work. He wrote a large number of books, including the staggeringly important and amazing Grapes of Wrath and died in 1968.

MY EXPERIENCE: I loved Grapes of Wrath when I read it in high school and I loved Of Mice and Men when I read it in college. I tried reading Cannery Row and felt too sick to get past the second or third page. We’ll see how this goes.

WHAT I’M READING: The Moon is DownREVIEW: I really enjoyed The Moon is Down. It’s about a thinly fictionalized Norway under the thinly fictionalized occupation of the Nazis. The gist of the story is that the people of this little village, while very polite and genial, sabotage their work at every opportunity. For instance, a few men get away by boat and escape to England, where they tell the English what’s happening and ask for some kind of material aid. A few weeks later, a plane drops a payload of small explosives, perfect for blowing out rail lines and so forth without being too big to be easily found. More than that, though, the people of this small town refuse to accept their invaders into daily life, which slowly drives them mad.

RECOMMENDED: Well, I liked it, and the Norwegian people liked it enough to give Steinbeck the Haakon VII Cross for it, so yeah.

WHAT’S NEXT: Main Street by Sinclair Lewis.

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