The Big Read Blog (Archive)

Imitating Steinbeck

Washington, DC


Caricature of John Steinbeck by John Sherffius for The Big Read.

John Steinbeck has touched millions of readers with The Grapes of Wrath, his epic, sprawling novel of rural life in the Great Depression. But his prose has touched writers as well, in some cases providing inspiration or influencing their style. In the excerpt from the bonus track of our audio guide below, fellow Big Read author Ray Bradbury describes the impact that The Grapes of Wrath has had on him, both as an adolescent and as a writer.

"When I read The Grapes of Wrath, I was 19. When I crossed the United States, I bought a copy at the United cigar store in Waukegan, got out of the Greyhound bus and took Route 66 like the Okies out to California. And I sat in the bus, reading The Grapes of Wrath. Jesus, God, it was beautiful! So, when I had to put The Martian Chronicles together, I remembered Steinbeck had written his novel the same way?every other chapter is an action chapter and every other chapter is an essay on weather, or circumstances, or a turtle, or the preacher, or some other character. So every other chapter is different though there?s no narrative [that] goes all the way through in succession, and you?re always interrupted by these essays. So I said to myself the way to tie together all of these stories is by imitating Steinbeck."

To hear the entire Big Read audio guide, please visit The Big Read website.

 

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