Longtime scholars and aficionados of the writings of John Steinbeck should be familiar with the bibliographical work of Robert B. Harmon, former reference librarian and curator for the Martha Heasley Cox Steinbeck Research Center at San José State University. His previous publications include "The Grapes of Wrath:" A Fifty Year Bibliographic Study (1990), John Steinbeck: An Annotated Guide to Bibliographical Sources (1996), and Elements of Bibliography (1998). He has published similar work on Dorothy L. Sayers and Ernest Hemingway. His latest publication is a slim, well organized volume that supplements his previous bibliographical work on Steinbeck scholarship. Dedicated to Tetsumaro Hayashi and covering some of the material of previous bibliographies, Tracking John Steinbeck, Harmon writes, draws attention to "the work of many Steinbeck bibliographers whose work to date has not received much acclaim."
Beginning with an essay on "Early Bibliographers at Work," which mentions William J. Henneman's 1936 listing of Steinbeck's first five publications in Reading and Collecting: A Monthly Review of Rare and Recent Books, this bibliography of bibliographies moves through ten other brief essays focusing on different areas of study: "Major Published Book Bibliographies," "Secondary Published Bibliographies," "Online Bibliographies," "Special Collection Catalogs," "Steinbeck's Library and Reading," "Book Collecting," "Bookseller's [sic] Catalogs," "Bibliographical and Documentary Works," "Theses and Dissertations," and "Translations and Foreign Editions." Because [End Page 115] each essay proceeds chronologically, while serving as a reference tool, Tracking John Steinbeck also offers a historical sketch of the development of Steinbeck bibliography. The book also includes a directory of Steinbeck bibliographers, a works cited section, and (though it is hardly a scholarly reference tool), a photo gallery of the bibliographers, which aside from acknowledging their efforts also puts a human face on what a few might otherwise consider a dry and tedious task. Collectors and Steinbeck scholars should find this volume a helpful, easy to use supplement to earlier, longer bibliographies—although at this point finding a copy may involve writing Dibco Press in San José because the major online book services, which carry most of Harmon's other publications, do not carry this one, and Dibco has no website itself.
W. Scott Simkins completed his doctoral degree at the University of Southern Mississippi in 2006. He teaches on the English faculty of Auburn University in Alabama, and he specializes in early twentieth-century American Literature.