The Grapes of Wrath*

by John Steinbeck

There's a reason why Write-Like-Hemingway and Bad-Faulkner contests exist, but contests for emulators of Steinbeck don't. Here is writing that draws zero attention to itself; it's simply, solidly good. To call the writing timeless is even higher compliment considering how rooted in an era the story of The Grapes of Wrath is. And the author himself was quite literally rooted in his subject matter. Even though The Grapes of Wrath was written in 100 days (hope you were sitting down when you read that), John Steinbeck took many extensive field trips to California in the mid to late 1930s and lived amongst migrants there in the years leading up to sitting down and knocking out the novel. In a letter to his agent in 1938, John Steinbeck wrote, "I'm trying to write history while it is happening and I don't want to be wrong." Truer words never penned: The Grapes of Wrath was published the following year and won the Pulitzer Prize the year after that. All while the Dust Bowl migration was happening.

There won't be much a review of the book here. Folks who have already read it don't need a recap. And folks who never have neither need help nor need the plot spoiled. This is a RE-read/read recommendation for anyone & everyone out there. It's a giant book but you'll fly right through it and press it into the hands of a friend when done.

I had more compassion for the Okies at this reading than I did in high school. (And more compassion for Steinbeck's Joads than I did for Faulkner's Bundrens, for example.) How HUMAN wishful thinking is! Though it can leave you feeling foolish in the end, it's not foolish to do. It is human.

At times in our lives we are all Okies: trounced on and needing to persevere by spirit alone...lest we not persevere at all. So go ahead. Project FANTASTICALLY on the future.

*Pulitzer Prize winner for the year 1940.