Sunday, October 5, 2008

Reviving Steinbeck -- Jennie

In reading my kids John Steinbeck’s The Pearl before we head off to La Paz, I’ve been awed once again by the master writer’s attention to detail, his significant settings.

Incidentally, since today is the last day of Banned Books Week 2008, it’s worth mentioning that Steinbeck is the American Library Association’s tenth-most frequently-challenged author.

As I walked through the autumn-anticipant Ashland this morning, I tried to apply some Steinbeck-ian observation.

Snapping a rose from its stem, I picked off a petal. Before letting it fall to the slick street, I rubbed it between my fingers for a minute, thinking how remarkably similar it was to a human eyelid: thin, soft, and veined, with like curviness.

Next, I grabbed a fistful of lavender and crushed it in my palm, releasing its sweet, wet, earthy scent.

Finally, I plucked off an overhanging plum—ripe and fleshy—and sunk my teeth into its stickiness, waking up my lazy taste buds.

It was an unusually sensory amble through downtown, an ode to nature of the small sort.

Steinbeck is inspiring, even in a city.

The walk made me wonder, though: How can a guy who made the American setting critical, who’s been dead two decades, get such a bad rap in the reading world?

He’s a hero.


Anonymous said...

Steinbeck spoke the truth - a common but worthy thing to get crucified for as a writer.
Enjoyed your sensory walk through Ashland, gave me pause to reflect on all that ripe fruit just hanging on the vine that we often ignore...

Anonymous said...

I want to be on that walk! Lovely.


Anonymous said...

I didn't know Steinbeck got crucified!

Cannery Row is my favorite book of all time, and my husband just picked up Tortilla Flats again.