John Steinbeck Archive

The Limits and Freedoms of Literary Regionalism: John Steinbeck’s Salinas Valley

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Known for his simplistically powerful writing style, Steinbeck is perhaps known even more widely for his commitment to his hometown of Salinas, California. With this in mind, Steinbeck’s first short story cycle, The Pastures of Heaven, is an ideal entry point, as it is an early example of his

Writ in Water: Interview with Chris McCormick and “Desert Boys”

This month, I chat with author Chris McCormick, whose terrific debut of linked stories, Desert Boys, follows main character Daley “Kush” Kushner and his friends Robert Karinger and Dan Watts. The book is largely set in the growing desert suburbia of the Antelope Valley, 70-odd miles north of Los

Writ in Water: Son of Salinas

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  Last month, I mentioned John Steinbeck’s famous declaration about the forgetfulness of his beloved Salinas Valley in matters of water and drought. He is fortunate that the valley has not forgotten him. The National Steinbeck Center commands one end of Main Street in downtown Salinas, and a walk

Writ in Water: The Wet Years

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I live near a cemetery in the Berkeley hills that has turned green from the rain. I do most of my jogging in the cemetery, and it reminds me—especially going uphill—that our time here is fleeting. I run among the dead, and I run among the deer and turkeys

A Family Tree of Books You Need a Family Tree to Read

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Let’s start with One Hundred Years of Solitude, to prove after last time that I do, in fact, love Gabriel García Márquez, and because where else would I start? By me, there is no better family novel than One Hundred Years of Solitude. The novel is nominally the story

Round-Down: North Carolina and Idaho Schools Face Proposed Book Bans

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Concerns over the age-appropriateness of books is nothing new. Efforts to ban books are perennial attempts of, assumedly, those worried about a book’s potential to negatively impact a reader too young to access its merit. At Melville House, Taylor Sperry discusses the recent attempt at banning Khaled Hosseini’s The

Do-Overs: Critical Fiction

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Can a story be truly inspired by a classic while serving as a literary critique of that work? Does critical fiction help us to understand our common archetypes? Absolutely. East of Eden, by John Steinbeck is, perhaps, the model for literature as critical writing. Steinbeck structures Eden around the

Literary Blueprints: The Wise Fool

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  After meeting Gothic characters the Byronic Hero and the Mad Woman, the time has come to visit periods before Romanticism in discovering a popular character known as The Wise Fool. Origin Story: The idea of the Wise Fool is somewhat hard to trace. Unlike some other character types,

The Dustbowl

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The Dustbowl Jim Goar Shearsman Books, April 2014 86 pages $16.00 Buy: book The greater part of Jim Goar’s The Dustbowl is a poem or sequence also called “The Dustbowl,” which the jacket copy describes as “a collection of serial poems.” These poems are, on average, about ten lines

Literary Boroughs #26: Reno/Lake Tahoe, Nevada

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The Literary Boroughs series will explore little-known and well-known literary communities across the country and world and show that while literary culture can exist online without regard to geographic location, it also continues to thrive locally. Posts are by no means exhaustive and we encourage our readers to contribute in the comment section. The