Studs Terkel: The More Things Change

It’s Steinbeck’s prophetic touch, that touch of clairvoyance, which makes his book so pertinent today. In 1989 I found myself on a farm in Iowa, twenty-three miles southeast of Des Moines. Carl Nearmeyer, fourth-generation farmer, was losing the farm. 


Peter Matthiessen: Story Lines

John Steinbeck’s admirable early work was an important part of my own formative reading: the grit of his descriptions, his deceptive simplicity, so free of the intrusive style that often bothered me in Hemingway and even Faulkner. 


Michele Serros: Small-Town Tales

After my mother had a hectic day at work, she’d take some books and go into her bedroom to escape. Her two favorite authors were Danielle Steel and John Steinbeck. I remember her reading John Steinbeck in the evening, and she’d carry the book with her to bed, and she’d be crying or laughing, and my father was jealous. One time he said, “Who is this Steinbeck my wife takes to bed every night, this man with big ears? 


George Plimpton: Lonesome Animals

Many years ago, I met John Steinbeck at a party in Sag Harbor, and told him that I had writer’s block. And he said something which I’ve always remembered, and which works. He said, “Pretend that you’re writing not to your editor or to an audience or to a readership, but to someone close, like your sister, or your mother, or someone that you like. 

Arthur Miller: A Suffering Conscience

A good writer helps to create other writers, and I can recall the first time, in the ’30s, when I read John Steinbeck’s early books, and his stories. To open those pages was like opening paintings. 


Dorothy Allison: Real People

Can you be personal about John Steinbeck? they asked me. Can you speak personally? I was born into the kind of poverty that John Steinbeck wrote about. I wanted to grow up to be a writer. Oh, I can speak personally about John Steinbeck. 

William Kennedy: A Mighty Heart

In 1933 John Steinbeck was so poor he couldn’t afford a dog. The literary critic Lewis Gannett uncovered this fact in Steinbeck’s correspondence with his agents during the time he was writing Tortilla Flat