Saturday, February 27, 2016

Birthday Book of the Day; Steinbeck's Sweet Thursday, 1st ed.

Today’s the 114th birthday of John Ernst Steinbeck, Jr (1902-66). Descendant of German immigrants who did well in California, he worked itinerantly in between spells in college. He filed at various businesses, including a Los Angeles venture to make plaster mannequins.

In 1930 his parents set him up in a cottage at Monterey, where he could work through the writing bug. The Red Pony (1933), Tortilla Flats (1935), Of Mice and Men (1937) and The Grapes of Wrath (1939) followed. 1939- the annus mirabilis of American movies- saw Steinbeck working, back and forth, between the film versions of The Grapes of Wrath and Of Mice and Men. The former also won him the National Book Award and the Pulitzer Prize.

Steinbeck’s friendship with a marine biologist led to Cannery Row (1945) and Sweet Thursday (1954), whose stories were melded into an excellent movie adaptation of the former in 1982. All told, seventeen of his works were made into films.

The author made a name in Hollywood, writing the screenplay for Hitchcock's Lifeboat (1944), among other films. His portrayal of the Norwegian resistance, The Moon is Down (1942) won him lifelong fame in that nation and a ticket to be a war correspondent.

The Pearl (1947) and East of Eden (1952) followed. His 1962 Nobel Prize was controversial; critics carped he was the compromise choice in a weak field that included Isak Dinesen, Robert Graves, and Jean Anouilh. One critic called Steinbeck’s works “the best of Mark Twain crossed with the worst of Cotton Mather. “For one who was so regularly denounced as a Communist in his heyday, Steinbeck died amid catcalls of reactionism after his 1960s war reports from Vietnam. Despite this, he was subjected to FBI harassment and annual tax audits until he died.

Always in print, Steinbeck’s works are gaining a new following. The themes he condemned- corporate power, income inequality, are back in vogue and being celebrated by right-wing parties everywhere.

Henry Bemis Books celebrates Steinbeck’s birthday with one of the books that made the movie Cannery Row:

Sweet Thursday.jpg

Steinbeck, John, Sweet Thursday (Viking Press, 1st ed., 1st printing, 1954). LOC 54-7983. Steinbeck’s sequel to Cannery Row (1945), Sweet Thursday finds Doc returning to the Row after World War II and trying to restore his neglected biological supply lab and Hazel coping with a vision that he is to become President of the United States, among other neighbors’ issues. A number of plot lines from Sweet Thursday were incorporated into the 1982 film, Cannery Row. A delightfully funny novel filled with vivid characters. Hardcover, price clipped dust jacket. Octavo, beige-green cloth; very good condition; dust jacket near fine, very clean and bright. 273 pp. HBB price: $850. $400.

Henry Bemis Books is one man’s attempt to bring more diversity and quality to a Charlotte-Mecklenburg market of devoted readers starved for choices. Henry Bemis Books is also happy to entertain reasonable offers on items in inventory. Shipping is always free; local buyers are welcome to drop by and pick up their purchases at our location off Peachtree Road in Northwest Charlotte if they like. #RareBooks #HenryBemisBooks #Steinbeck #CanneryRow #Charlotte

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