John Ernst Steinbeck Jr. entered the world 120 years ago today. He is probably best known for his Pulitzer Prize winning novel, The Grapes of Wrath, but he authored many other books during his lifetime. A total of 33. Steinbeck was born in Salinas, California. Affectionately known as, The Salad Bowl of the Nation, Salinas made its fortune, after the depression, on “green gold” and it remains an agriculture town today.
Salinas is also where I keep my office and I am reminded of Steinbeck on a daily basis. I am blessed to have a fantastic view of the Steinbeck Public Library. The front of the library is flanked by a statue of Mr. Steinbeck and an immense boulder that is inscribed with one of his quotes, a favorite of mine, “Books are the best friends you can have. They inform you and entertain you and they don’t talk back.”
Books do not talk back, but they speak nonetheless. Steinbeck was awarded the Nobel Prize in Literature for his realistic writings that combined sympathetic humor and keen social perception. He told stories that many in the Salinas Valley would rather not be told. The Grapes of Wrath, his acclaimed and prize winning novel was banned by several local schools. His books were even burned, both in the city of Salinas and other cities throughout the country. They were condemned as obscene.
Today this same community celebrates him with one of the largest literary museums in the United States dedicated to a single author. His birthplace and childhood home is a restored Queen Anne style Victorian that now houses a charming restaurant and gift shop. His name graces not only the library, but also the post office, an elementary school, roads and even part of the highway, not to mention numerous businesses. He is our most famous native son.
It’s hard to imagine a time when his books and his ideas were not only unpopular, but actually outlawed. It inspires me to speak my own truth every day and reminds me that peoples perceptions can change in time and when offered another’s point of view.
But…first we must use our words. We must speak our truth. Our very own, uniquely us TRUTH! No matter how unpopular. That’s what I intend on continuing to do. I invite you to join me.
P.S. I have just submitted my Audiobook for its final review before publishing! I expect it to be available early next month.