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Steinbeck Today

True West Magazine (Aug. 2007) polled eight western writers as to the books that influenced their lives and craft. Two of the eight, Michael Wallis and Jeb Rosebrook, listed Grapes of Wrath as one of the books, and Rosebrook also listed The Long Valley .

—Submitted by Bill Groneman

Baylor University will be recognizing "Banned Books Week" for the first time in its history. Baylor claims it has not banned many books; it was simply slow in purchasing controversial ones like The Grapes of Wrath and Of Mice and Men. Not surprisingly, Baylor doesn't have a history of protests against books it tended not to have on the shelves. "We don't have that many, surprisingly," longtime Baylor librarian Kathy Hillman said. "A number of years ago, we had somebody question whether the bookstore should sell Pravda." The reason given for the failure to order Steinbeck works is that "during the Great Depression, when these works were published, scholars weren't as inclined toward homegrown, all-American writing of the period, so Baylor officials invested what little money they had in classics from other parts and other times." In its first celebration of Banned Books Week, Baylor University students and faculty will read selections from famous banned books during brown bag lunches in the Harvey Garden of the Moody Memorial Library on campus. Steinbeck's Of Mice and Men and Twain's Huckleberry Finn will be included. (Waco Tribune, October 1, 2007, www.wacotrib. com, accessed 10-1-07).

—Submitted by Paul Douglass [End Page 101]

In the July 20 episode of the comedy-drama television show Psych, entitled "Sixty Five Million Years Off," James Roday, playing a psychic named Shawn, suggests that playing dumb like Lennie in Steinbeck's Of Mice and Men may actually get him the information he so desperately needs to solve the murder of a paleontologist, so he assumes Lennie's demeanor and speech patterns. Psych, USA Network 9-10 PM CDT Friday July 20, 2007.

—Submitted by Michael J. Meyer

Oklahomans still chafe when they hear anyone praise Grapes of Wrath. Governor Brad Henry found that out when he pointed to Steinbeck's novel as an example of family values. Beth Stephenson, an Edmond Oklahoma resident retorted, "While I agree with the governor's perceptions that Oklahomans tend to be family oriented, the Joads are far from the ideal model of this virtue." She concluded, "If I ever write a novel about Okies, I'll people it with the living, breathing examples I've met here in Oklahoma and certainly not borrow from Steinbeck's unflattering image." (Beth Stephenson, "Gov. Henry should reread Steinbeck's 'Grapes of Wrath,'" Edmond Sun, Sept. 26, 2007,, accessed 9-27-07).

—Submitted anonymously

Michael Thomas Ford is a gay-theme writer who has published more than fifty books. He is best known for his novels and his essay collections in the "Trials of My Queer Life" series. His work has been often nominated for Lambda Literary Awards, winning three times. His new novel, Changing Tides, is set in Monterey, where marine biologist Ben Ransome meets an ambitious graduate student, Hudson Jones. Jones, a Steinbeck scholar, believes he has found a lost John Steinbeck novel entitled Changing Tides that details the author's homosexual affair with his best friend Edward "Doc" Ricketts. Ford's novel examines the growing relationship between Ransome and Jones against the subtext of the supposed homosexual liaison between Steinbeck and Ricketts. (Kensington Books, 2007).

—Submitted by Michael J. Meyer [End Page 102]

Anne Ewers, the new president and CEO of Philadelphia's Kimmel Center for the Performing Arts names John Steinbeck as her favorite writer of fiction, saying, "His character development is untouchable, especially that of the loner in harsh, restricting environments in such novels as The Grapes of Wrath and Of Mice and Men." Ewers said that if she had the power to order all of the Philadelphia region to read one book, it would be The Grapes of Wrath, because "it is as relevant today as when Steinbeck penned it in 1939. It reflects the trials and hardships of our people and the valor of the American spirit...

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