My review of Catalina Eddy: A Novel In Three Decades, by Daniel Pyne, has been published by the Internet Review of Books.
From the authors of Writes 750 at Goodreads comes an anthology that is now published at Amazon in time for Easter. I have two stories published in the recently released Anthology: The Power of Forgiveness: A Collection of Short Stories.
Copies are available in both paperback and e-book. We would appreciate some book reviews for this and if you could share with your friends, family, and church groups.
My humorous essay, Never Again, Until Next Time, is up at Everyday Fiction. My flash story, Merry Christmas, is up at Out of the Gutter. Both works began in Practice, so thanks to the Practice folks for their help.
My story, “Lingering Adolescence,” is up at Flash Fiction Press.
Joanna M. Weston
A haiku in Stardust. Click on the link and then on the April issue link and scroll down from there.
Theresa A. Cancro
Two of my haiku have been published in Undertow Tanka Review, Issue 11 - an online journal of surreal tanka, haiku, and art.
One haiku published in the April 2017 issue of Stardust Haiku. Click on the issue link, then scroll to page 4.
The Devil Orders Takeout launched today, and I have already received my first review. This couldn't have happened without your critiques.
Here is a link to a piece published 4-24-17 in USA Today Life. The section focuses on HEA (Happily Ever After) endings - the kind I write.
Next month I'll be speaking at the RT Booklovers Convention in Atlanta. Ought to be a pretty exciting year. Thank you for the support many of you have given me throughout these many years. Good things are starting to happen. (-:
Monday, April 24, 2017
Friday, April 21, 2017
This Day In Literary History
On April 21st, 1894, Arms and the Man, the classic play by the legendary Irish playwright George Bernard Shaw, opened at the Playhouse Theatre in London.
Arms and the Man (the title comes from the opening words of Virgil's Aeneid) was set during the 1885 Serbo-Bulgarian War. The play's heroine is a Bulgarian girl, Raina Petkoff. Her fiance is Sergius Saranoff, a war hero whom she idolizes.
One night, Captain Bluntschli, a Swiss mercenary soldier in the Serbian army, bursts in through Raina's bedroom window. After threatening her, Bluntschli begs Raina to hide him.
She complies, though she thinks he's a coward - especially when he tells her that he is armed with chocolates instead of bullets. After the battle dies down, Raina and her mother sneak Bluntschli out of the house, disguising him in a housecoat.
The war ends and Sergius returns to Raina - and flirts with her servant girl Louka. Raina finds the man she once idolized to be tiresome and foolhardy. Then, Bluntschli unexpectedly returns to give Raina back the housecoat.
Raina comes to realize that Bluntschli respects her as a woman, where Sergius does not. She tells Bluntschli that she left a picture of herself in a pocket of the housecoat for him, with the inscription "To my chocolate-cream soldier." Unfortunately, Bluntschli never found it.
Later, Bluntschli receives word that his father has died and he has inherited considerable wealth. Louka then tells Sergius that Bluntschli was the man whom Raina protected - and is in love with.
Sergius challenges Bluntschli to a duel, but the men avoid fighting when Sergius and Raina break off their engagement amicably. To Raina's father's horror, Sergius proposes to Louka.
Meanwhile, Bluntschli is now a wealthy businessman. Raina, recognizing the shallowness of her romantic ideals and her ex-fiance's values, tells him that she would rather have her poor chocolate-cream soldier instead.
He convinces her that he's still the same person. The play ends with Raina proclaiming her love for Bluntschli, who then proclaims to everyone that he will marry Raina when he returns in two weeks.
The opening performance of Arms and the Man received a standing ovation - and loud boos from one lone heckler, to whom the playwright quipped, "My dear fellow, I quite agree with you, but what are we two against so many?"
When a group of Bulgarian students complained about Shaw using their country's military history as a vehicle for satirizing the absurdities of war, the playwright made the following apology:
I greatly regret that my play, Arms and the Man, has wounded the susceptibilities of Bulgarian students in Berlin and Vienna. But I ask them to remember that it is the business of the writer of comedy to wound the susceptibilities of his audience. When the Bulgarian students, with my friendly assistance, have developed a sense of humor, there will be no more trouble.
Quote Of The Day
"Censorship ends in logical completeness when nobody is allowed to read any books except the books that nobody reads." - George Bernard Shaw
Today's video a complete performance of George Bernard Shaw's classic play, Arms and the Man, taped live in London. Enjoy!
Thursday, April 20, 2017
This Day In Literary History
On April 20th, 1953, the famous English writer Sebastian Faulks was born in Newbury, England. His father Peter Faulks was a lawyer and decorated World War II veteran who became a judge. His maternal grandfather was a decorated veteran of World War I.
Sebastian Faulks would not follow in the family tradition and become a lawyer or a judge. His first ambition was to be a taxi driver.
Then, at the age of fifteen, he read George Orwell and determined to become a novelist. He first attended Wellington College, then studied English at Emmanuel College, Cambridge, where he would later be elected as an honorary fellow.
After university, Faulks took a teaching job at the Dwight-Franklin International School. He also took up journalism, becoming a features writer for the Daily Telegraph and Sunday Telegraph.
Later, he would be recruited as Literary Editor by The Independent, then become Deputy Editor of its Sunday edition, The Independent on Sunday. He would also write columns for The Guardian and The Evening Standard.
Sebastian Faulks' first published novel was released in 1984. It was titled A Trick of the Light. Had it not been published, Faulks claimed he would have given up on writing, as two previous novels had been rejected.
While A Trick of the Light wasn't hugely successful, it did get the author noticed. His next novel, The Girl at the Lion d'Or (1989), made his name as a writer.
The first in a trilogy of novels - the French Trilogy - The Girl at the Lion d'Or was set in 1930s France. It told the story of Anne Louvert, a French girl left orphaned and homeless when her legal guardian abandons her after she refuses to be his mistress.
This so-called guardian was a Nazi sympathizer who moved to America, deserting his right wing comrades as well as Anne. She finds work at the village inn, The Lion d'Or, where she meets Charles Hartmann, a kind, sensitive, wealthy older Jewish man.
Hartmann is a decorated veteran of the Great War, where Anne's father was executed for mutiny, an event that drove her mother to suicide. Although Hartmann is married, he and Anne fall in love and have a passionate affair.
When Hartmann ends the affair, Anne is devastated but refuses to commit suicide like her mother did. Instead, she courageously faces the dark days ahead, as the rise of the Nazis threatens France.
The second novel in Sebastian Faulks' French Trilogy, Birdsong (1993), proved to be a huge commercial success, selling three million copies. Ten years after its publication, it would be ranked at #13 on the BBC's "Big Read" list of Britain's 200 best loved novels.
Birdsong told the story of Stephen Wraysford, a young Englishman living in France just before the outbreak of World War I, as his granddaughter Elizabeth researches his experiences during the Great War.
The third volume of the French Trilogy, Charlotte Gray, was published in 1998. The tale of a young Scotswoman's involvement with the French Resistance during World War II was adapted as an acclaimed feature film in 2001, starring Cate Blanchett in the title role.
Faulks' 2001 novel On Green Dolphin Street was a Cold War drama set in the 1950s. The main character, Mary van der Linden, is the wife of a British diplomat stationed in Washington. Her husband Charlie is a talented and effective diplomat.
Unfortunately, he's also a self-loathing alcoholic suffering from existential angst. When Mary meets American journalist Frank Renzo at a party, he becomes attracted to her. They have an affair, which troubles Mary deeply, as she still loves her husband. She finds herself torn between both men.
Faulks continues to write great novels. In 2007, he was commissioned by the trustees of the Ian Fleming estate to write an official James Bond novel. The result, Devil May Care, was published in 2008 to commemorate the centennial anniversary of Fleming's birth.
Set in the 1960s, the novel pitted the legendary British secret agent against the evil Dr. Gorner, a manufacturer of legitimate pharmaceuticals who plans to flood Europe with cheap narcotics and launch a terrorist attack against the Soviet Union, the retaliation for which would devastate the UK.
Faulks' most recent novel, Where My Heart Used to Beat, was released this January. Set in London circa 1980, it tells the story of Dr. Robert Hendricks, a psychiatrist and writer who has plunged into a quagmire of loneliness and depression.
Then he receives a letter from Dr. Alexander Pereira, a neurologist and World War I veteran, who proclaims his admiration for Hendricks' published work. Hendricks travels to Pereira's home on a secluded island off the South of France to meet him.
There, Hendricks is forced to confront his traumatic memories of the carnage and injury he experienced as a young British officer during World War II and of the Italian woman he met and fell deeply in love with during the conflict. Confronting these memories could lead Hendricks to insanity - or redemption.
Sebastian Faulks has also written nonfiction works. He remains one of the most popular writers in the United Kingdom.
Quote Of The Day
"The difference between a peasant community in fourteenth-century Iran and modern London, though, is that if with their meager resources the villagers occasionally slipped backward, it was not for lack of trying. But with us, here in England, it was a positive choice. We chose to know less." - Sebastian Faulks
Today's video features Sebastian Faulks reading from and discussing his most recent novel, Where My Heart Used to Beat on BBC Newsnight. Enjoy!
Wednesday, April 19, 2017
This Day In Literary History
On April 19th, 1824, the legendary English poet Lord Byron died in Aetolia-Acarnania, Greece, at the age of 36. Born George Gordon Byron in January of 1788 in Dover, England, he established himself as one of the greatest English Romantic poets of all time.
He was also a master of dramatic verse, and his epic poems, such as The Corsair (1813), The Siege of Corinth (1816), and the unfinished Don Juan (1819-1824), are among his most memorable works.
In life, Byron proved to be as romantic and flamboyant as his poetry. He was brilliant, most likely bipolar, and an agnostic. Although a nobleman himself, he had little use for the British aristocracy and even less use for the monarchy.
He once gave a stirring speech before Parliament condemning the Church of England (the official clerical body of the British Empire) for its intolerance of other faiths.
An outspoken liberal and libertine, Byron's intellect, literary talent, charisma, flamboyance, excesses, and scandals made him a huge celebrity - a rock star of his time. Openly bisexual though he preferred women, Byron criticized the persecution of homosexuals by British law.
He also condemned the pro-Christian legal system's discrimination against atheists. His best friend, the legendary poet Percy Shelley, was denied custody of his children because he didn't believe in God.
Of his many female lovers, Lord Byron's most notorious relationship was with the married Lady Caroline Lamb, who had famously described him as "mad, bad and dangerous to know" - yet it was she who went mad after Byron ended their relationship.
Refusing to take no for an answer, she began stalking him, both privately and publicly, resulting in a huge scandal. It wouldn't be the only scandal to plague Byron.
He was also accused of homosexuality (considered both a disgrace and a crime in 19th century England) and having an incestuous affair with his older half-sister Augusta Leigh, resulting in her pregnancy.
While Byron was openly bisexual, the idea that he had an affair with his half-sister, to whom he was very close, is highly debatable. When he wasn't writing poetry, Lord Byron dedicated himself to political causes.
In 1809, he took a seat in Parliament's House of Lords, which he used to strongly advocate for social reform. He opposed capital punishment and laws that compromised one's civil liberties and / or encroached on the private lives of British subjects.
An animal lover, Byron kept many exotic pets, including a fox, an eagle, a crocodile, and an Egyptian crane. He kept a bear as a pet while studying at Trinity College, Cambridge, in response to the college's prohibition of keeping dogs as pets.
He publicly suggested that the bear should apply for a fellowship at Trinity. Byron's favorite pet was his dog - a Newfoundland called Boatswain.
When the dog contracted rabies, Byron nursed him until he died, unafraid of contracting the disease himself. He eulogized Boatswain in a poem called Epitaph to a Dog (1808).
By 1816, embittered and plagued with scandal, (thanks to Lady Caroline Lamb's public smear campaign) Byron left England and lived throughout Europe, mostly in Italy and Greece, until his death in 1824.
A year earlier, Byron had left his home in Genoa to join the famous Greek statesman Alexandros Mavrokordatos in his fight for Greece's independence from the Ottoman Empire. It would not be Byron's first voyage to Greece or his first conflict with the Ottoman Empire.
Byron had visited Athens several years earlier, interested in both Greek culture and the country's acceptance of homosexuality. While staying there, he met a handsome French boy named Nicolo Giraud who became his friend, traveling companion, and lover.
While living in Venice in 1816, Byron became acquainted with a Mechitarist (Armenian Catholic) priest who introduced him to Armenian culture. Fascinated, Byron attended lectures on Armenian history and learned the Armenian language.
He would help introduce Armenian culture to Western Europe and publicly support Armenia's struggle for independence against the Ottoman Empire. Since the Armenians were largely Christian, the Muslim Ottomans oppressed them ruthlessly.
So, in August of 1823, when Byron learned of Greece's struggle against the Ottomans, he set sail for Kefalonia in the Ionian Islands. His first mission was to help rebuild the Greek naval fleet, and he spent £4000 of his own money (the equivalent of £72,000 in today's money) to prepare the fleet for war.
By December, he joined Alexandros Mavrokordatos, to whom the Greek military was loyal, in Messolonghi. After he and Mavrokordatos supervised the training of the troops, Byron was given command of a regiment. The plan was to attack the Turkish-held fortress of Lepanto, located at the mouth of the Gulf of Corinth.
Before the fleet could set sail for Lepanto, Byron fell ill. Although the bloodletting treatment (it was thought that draining a patient of small quantities of blood would speed up the healing process) weakened him further, he began to recover. By April, he caught a nasty cold which was aggravated by more bloodletting.
Lord Byron lapsed into a violent fever and died on April 19th. He was 36 years old. It is believed that Byron contracted sepsis (blood poisoning) as the result of bloodletting treatments performed with unsterilized medical instruments.
After he died, Greece's national poet, Dionysios Solomos, wrote a poem in his honor called To the Death of Lord Byron. His body was embalmed, his heart and lungs were removed, and the rest of his remains were sent to England.
The fate of Byron's heart and lungs is unclear. An urn containing the ashes of both organs was supposedly lost when the city of Messolonghi was sacked by the Ottomans in 1825. Some believe that the urn only contained the ashes of Byron's lungs, and that his heart is still in Messolonghi.
To this day, he is considered a national hero in Greece. It has been said that had he lived and led his men to victory against the Ottomans, he might have become the King of Greece, but that's highly unlikely.
When news of Lord Byron's death reached England, people were shocked and saddened despite the scandals that had plagued him in life. Huge crowds came to pay their respects as he lay in state in London. Byron was denied a Christian burial at Westminster Abbey for reason of "questionable morality."
He would later be buried at the Church of St. Mary Magdalene in Hucknall, Nottingham. At her request, Ada Lovelace, the love child he never knew, was buried next to him.
Ada became famous in her own right for her collaboration with Charles Babbage on the analytical engine, a precursor to the computer.
After his burial, Byron's friends raised a thousand pounds for a statue of him to be made by legendary Danish sculptor Bertel Thorvaldsen - an admirer of Byron's.
The statue would languish in storage for ten years, as most British institutions refused to host it on their premises. Finally, his alma mater, Trinity College, Cambridge, agreed to place the statue in its library.
Quote Of The Day
"Those who will not reason are bigots, those who cannot are fools, and those who dare not are slaves." - Lord Byron
Today's video features a reading of Lord Byron's classic poem, Darkness. Enjoy!
Tuesday, April 18, 2017
This Day In Literary History
On April 18th, 1958, a federal court ruled that the famous American poet Ezra Pound be released from a hospital for the criminally insane in Washington, DC. It would mark the third act in a life drama of genius tempered by insanity - and ignorance.
Pound had been committed to the psychiatric hospital in 1946 after doctors found him not competent to stand trial for treason. During the war, Pound, who had lived in Italy for twenty years, had recorded propaganda radio broadcasts for the Mussolini regime.
After his arrest, Pound was sent to a brutal military prison where he was put in one of the "death cells" - a 6x6 foot cage perpetually lit by floodlights.
There, he spent three weeks in isolation, denied a bed, reading material, physical exercise, and communication with everyone but the chaplain. To prevent him from killing himself, his belt and shoelaces were confiscated.
Pound lost what little sanity he had left. Diagnosed as a schizophrenic with narcissistic personality disorder, he was sent back to the United States and committed to the St. Elizabeth hospital for the criminally insane, where he would languish for over a decade.
Ezra Pound was born in Idaho in 1885, but grew up in Pennsylvania. He came from a fiercely conservative Protestant family whose religion was steeped deep in anti-Semitism. His grandfather was a powerful Republican congressman.
As a boy, Pound attended military school, where the erratic, self-destructive pattern of behavior that governed his life took root. There, he learned well the importance of discipline and submission to authority for the greater good.
And yet, he was also an intelligent, conceited, and independent young man who believed that discipline and submission were tools with which to shape the unwashed, barely literate masses into a decent orderly society - not for superior people like him. He wanted to be a poet.
When it came to his own liberty, the young fascist in training took great pleasure in challenging authority. In 1907, after graduating from the University of Pennsylvania, he taught Romance languages at Wabash College in Crawfordsville, Indiana.
Although fiercely conservative himself and teaching at a conservative college, Pound described the conservative town of Crawfordsville as "the sixth circle of Hell" - he hated conservative small towns.
Pound's landladies caught him in flagrante delicto with a stranded chorus girl he'd invited to stay in his apartment and kicked him out. When word of his scandalous transgression got back to the college, he was fired.
Finding his own country hopelessly provincial, Pound went to Europe, which he loved. When he was thirteen, he'd gone on a European tour with his mother and aunt. On his return, he settled in London, where he struck up friendships with the great poets of the day.
Pound also burst onto the literary scene himself. Along with his old girlfriend, the famous poet Hilda Dolittle, he founded the Imagism movement, the opposite of Romantic poetry. He aimed for verse with clear imagery and devoid of unnecessary wordiness.
During the first world war, Pound championed the works of James Joyce, T.S. Eliot, and other authors whose works were considered too experimental for publication. He helped get Joyce's classic debut novel Portrait of the Artist as a Young Man published.
Pound also began writing his most famous work - an unfinished epic poem called The Cantos, the first volume of which was published in 1924. It's rightfully considered one of the most important works of 20th century modernist poetry - and one of the most controversial.
The horrors of the Great War led Pound, who was already an anti-Semite, to believe in the anti-Semitic mythology spawned by the conflict. Pound believed that the war had been engineered and manipulated - on both sides - by Jewish bankers.
Regarding the English as the willing slaves of the Jews, he moved to Paris in 1921. There, he connected with the great writers of the Lost Generation, including Tristan Tzara and Ernest Hemingway. Hemingway and Pound became good friends.
Like most of Ezra Pound's literary friends, Hemingway admired his talent and liked him as a friend, but had no use for his politics. Another of Pound's friends, the famous poet Marianne Moore - who was herself conservative - also deplored his fascism.
After living in Paris for three years, Pound's physical health was deteriorating, and he had suffered what Hemingway called "a small nervous breakdown." He moved to the warmer climate of Italy, where he became enamored with dictator Benito Mussolini.
In 1927, Pound launched his own literary magazine, which would feature the works of his friends, including Hemingway, E.E. Cummings, William Carlos Williams, and William Butler Yeats. Yet, the magazine ultimately flopped because of Pound's own writings.
As his mental state worsened, so did his writing. His editorials were often rambling, incoherent, and just plain bizarre. The man who championed fascism also praised Lenin and Confucius in his editorials!
When war came to Europe again, Ezra Pound, now paranoid and totally demented, believed that if the Allies won, the world would be enslaved by the Jews. So, he wrote and recorded propaganda radio broadcasts for which he was paid well.
These ten-minute broadcasts, filled with anti-Semitism and paranoid rants, aired on English language radio stations in Italy and Germany. After Mussolini was overthrown and executed, Pound and his mistress were seized by armed partisans and later released.
Fearing for their lives, they turned themselves in at a nearby U.S. military post. While Pound awaited trial in a military prison, a reporter for the Philadelphia Record managed to get an interview with him.
Pound described Mussolini as an "imperfect character who lost his head" and Nazi dictator Adolf Hitler, who had just committed suicide following Germany's defeat, as a modern day male Joan of Arc - "a saint."
Ezra Pound's release from the psychiatric hospital in 1958 came about mostly due to letter writing campaigns launched by his friends, including Ernest Hemingway, who used his clout as a recent Nobel Prize winner.
Pound's friends all agreed that he was just a poor, sick, nasty yet harmless old man who should be pitied. The psychiatrists agreed that he was no longer a danger to himself or others. After his release, he moved to Naples. When he arrived, he gave the press the fascist salute.
Prior to his release, Pound publicly claimed to have renounced his anti-Semitism, but privately, he had corresponded with John Kasper, a prominent Ku Klux Klan leader who was later jailed for bombing a school because it allowed a black girl to attend.
In his later years, Pound tried to finish his magnum opus, The Cantos, but found that his talent had dried up. He couldn't write anymore, so he abandoned the work. One of the finest poets of his time, yet his legacy was forever tarnished.
Ezra Pound finally found clarity of thought and genuine repentance in his old age. In 1967, at the age of 82, he met with legendary poet Allen Ginsberg in Venice. During their talk, Pound summed up his personal and artistic failings:
My own work does not make sense. A mess... my writing, stupidity and ignorance all the way through... the intention was bad, anything I've done has been an accident, in spite of my spoiled intentions the preoccupation with stupid and irrelevant matters... but my worst mistake was the stupid suburban anti-Semitic prejudice, all along that spoiled everything... I found after 70 years that I was not a lunatic but a moron. I should have been able to do better... it’s all doubletalk... it’s all tags and patches ... a mess.
Quote Of The Day
"Great literature is simply language charged with meaning to the utmost possible degree." - Ezra Pound
Today's video features a rare recording of Ezra Pound reading from his classic epic poem, The Cantos. Enjoy!
Monday, April 17, 2017
I recently moved to Budapest, Hungary and proposed a series of article to a local, “what's on in your city,” type magazine. Right now they have me doing just online content. My first article is up now. :) Check it out!
I am currently on trial, so my future with the magazine is based on clicks. It's about a tiny home brewing shop in Budapest and a bit on the history of the hobby in Hungary.
Theresa A. Cancro
Three haiku published in Presence, a print journal of haiku and related short-form poetry, based in the UK, and, two haiku and one haibun ("Inertia's Orbit") have been published in Chrysanthemum #21, April 2017.
A German translation is included with each work. Scroll to page 13 for the haiku, page 74 for the haibun.
A 5,000-word article titled "Flash Fiction From Text to Audio To Music, Stage, and Film Adaptation" will be published in the anthology, Critical Insights: Flash Fiction. The collection, edited by Scott Emert and Michael Cocchiarale, will be available later this year (likely quite soon).
“Flash Fiction: Brief and (Likely) Necessary Literature” is now online in Abstract Magazine, and will also be published in their hard-copy issue to be released later this year.
In December 2016, Abstract Magazine also published my article titled "A Short Course in Short-Shorts" which was originally published by Writer's Digest. See that article here. I was invited to be a contributing editor for Abstract Magazine and eager to begin work in that capacity.
My review of Cast the First Stone, an Ellie Stone Mystery by James W. Ziskin, has been published by the Internet Review of Books.
My review of Manhattan Night is in a column that our own Deb O’neille plans to include as a regular feature. While you're there, look around.
My flash, “Premonitions,”" is at the Flash Fiction Press.
Friday, April 14, 2017
This Day In Literary History
On April 14th, 1939, The Grapes of Wrath, the classic, Pulitzer Prize winning novel by the legendary American writer John Steinbeck, was published.
Steinbeck had previously scored a literary triumph with his acclaimed and controversial novella, Of Mice and Men. The Grapes of Wrath would also court controversy.
The Grapes of Wrath - the title comes from a line in the song The Battle Hymn of the Republic - told the story of the Joads, a poor family of Oklahoma sharecroppers.
Driven from their home by the Great Depression and the dust storms, go to California hoping to improve their fortunes. Instead, they encounter more hardship. The novel opens with son Tom Joad being paroled after serving time in prison for manslaughter.
On his way home, he meets Jim Casy, an ex-preacher he once knew. Casy, who shares the same initials as Jesus Christ, lost his faith after having affairs with his congregants and realizing that religion can provide no real answers or solace for the difficulties that people are experiencing in the Depression.
Tom and Casy go to Tom's uncle's house, where Tom finds his family loading their truck with their possessions. Their crops were destroyed by the dust storms and their farm has been repossessed.
So, the Joads have decided to go to California after an advertisement convinces them that the Golden State holds the key to prosperity. Leaving Oklahoma would violate Tom's parole, but he believes that it's a risk worth taking.
They head out on Route 66, and soon realize that their prospects in California may not be as good as they thought. The road is full of other families making the same journey and the makeshift camps in which they live.
The Joads hear many stories of hardship from people who have been to California, but they feel they have no choice but to continue their journey.
When they finally arrive in California, the Joads find no hope of making a decent living. There's an oversupply of labor and no rights for workers, thanks to a collusion of big corporate farmers. Smaller farmers are suffering from a collapse in prices.
The Joads find hope at Weedpatch Camp, a clean camp operated by the Resettlement Administration, one of President Franklin Roosevelt's New Deal agencies. Since the camp is a federal facility, the poor migrant workers are protected there from the sadistic California state policemen.
The vigilante cops had been constantly harassing and brutalizing migrant workers in an attempt to drive them out of the state. Unfortunately, there's not enough money and space at Weedpatch to care for all the needy.
The novel reaches its apex when the Joads end up working (unknowingly) as strike breakers at a peach orchard. A strike turns violent and Tom Joad's friend Jim Casy is murdered. Tom witnesses the crime and kills the attacker to avenge his friend's death.
Now a fugitive, Tom says goodbye to his mother and flees, vowing that wherever the road takes him, he'll act as a defender of the oppressed.
The publication of The Grapes of Wrath in 1939 was described as "a phenomenon on the scale of a national event. It was publicly banned and burned by citizens, it was debated on national radio hook-ups; but above all, it was read."
Loved by most and denounced as communist propaganda by some, The Grapes of Wrath would become one of the most thoroughly discussed and studied novels of the twentieth century.
Though author John Steinbeck had been accused of exaggerating the camp conditions to make a political point, he had actually underplayed conditions that he knew had been much worse than what he'd described in his novel. He did this to avoid being labeled a propagandist, but he was denounced as a communist nonetheless.
In 1940, the legendary filmmaker John Ford directed a feature film adaptation of The Grapes of Wrath, starring Henry Fonda as Tom Joad and John Carradine as Jim Casy.
Though the ending of the film differs greatly from the novel, it's still rightfully considered one of the greatest films ever made. It won big at the Academy Awards, taking the Oscars for Best Actor (Fonda), Best Director (Ford), Best Picture, and Best Adapted Screenplay.
The legendary American folksinger Woody Guthrie was a big fan of the film. After he saw it, he wrote a song summarizing the plot for people who couldn't afford to see the movie. The result, Guthrie's classic song Tom Joad, turned out to be so long that it had to be broken into two parts.
In 1962, John Steinbeck won the Nobel Prize for literature. The prize committee cited the brilliance of The Grapes of Wrath as one of their main reasons for giving Steinbeck the award.
Quote Of The Day
"The writer must believe that what he is doing is the most important thing in the world. And he must hold to this illusion even when he knows it is not true." - John Steinbeck
Today's video features an episode of the series Great Books dedicated to John Steinbeck's classic novel, The Grapes of Wrath. Enjoy!