Sunday, February 28, 2010

In Honor of the Big Read

Yesterday I attended the kick-off lecture for the March Big Read event. Kenosha will be reading John Steinbeck's The Grapes of Wrath. There was a surprisingly large turn out for the opening lecture given by Dr. Robert DeMott at the Kenosha Historical Society yesterday afternoon.

The Grapes of Wrath was required reading in high school, and I still have my now yellowed copy from way back then. I remember the story vividly...mostly because in the interim I've seen the movie a couple of times so the story comes easily to mind.

I am, however, looking forward to reading the story again in the dual contexts of the "grown up me" and today's economy.

Dr. Mott touched on a point that is frequently overlooked in the discussion of The Grapes of Wrath. Although the Great Depression is often focussed on as the main plight affecting the characters in the book, the greater tragedy was the ecological disaster of the Great Plains dust storms.

In the excerpt from his letter to Pascal Covici c. 1939, Steinbeck mentions five layers in the book. I wonder if the twin plights are two of those layers. Guess I'll have to dig in once again to find out.

The excerpt reads: "Throughout {The Grapes of Wrath} I've tried to make the reader participate in the actuality, what he takes from it will be scaled entirely on his own depth or hollowness. There are five layers in this book, a reader will find as many as he can and he won't find more than he has in himself."

On an entirely different topic, I did have a mini-Sketchcrawl over lunch. I'll post the results in the next few days...after I'm finished. How's that for a tease?

Thanks for stopping by!


raena said...

I love this post. It's a great sketch and about a wonderful writer. I love John Steinbeck!

Kirstyn said...

Hahah - Love your Steinbeck sketch! Years ago in Philadelphia, I met an older person who also grew-up in the San Joaquin Valley and as we both sort of moaned and admitted to having lived in similarly not-so-exciting towns there, he said that he tells people he's from "Steinbeck Country." I loved it and have told people the same thing since.

dcpeg said...

Great sketch, Nan. I can tell how much you're looking forward to this event. Hope it lives up to your expectations.