January 2017 Selection: Working Days, Grapes of Wrath

“Working Days: The Journals of The Grapes of Wrath” 1938 – 1941 by John Steinbeck, edited by Robert DeMott.

“Grapes of Wrath” by John Steinbeck

Working Days consists of journal entries describing the 100 days he spent writing The Grapes of Wrath and the aftermath, plus the editor DeMott’s introduction and commentaries, which provide background on the evolution of Steinbeck’s political consciousness and the development of the novel.

The Journals does not offer details about style or content, but does frequently make his general intent for a chapter clear and provide a glimpse into his personality.

Ideally you would read or re-read The Grapes of Wrath itself, but as this is a busy holiday season, I recommend that you not get lost in the weeds of completing a task, but rather focus on understanding how Steinbeck came to write the novel, The Grapes of Wrath. And focus on how you might adopt his passion, understand his doubts, and witness his persistence in writing this novel.

So, to be practical I have some suggestions. As you read The Journals, read an entry and then read the chapter of The Grapes of Wrath that the journal entry refers to. That way, if you don’t complete reading either book, you will still get a sense of John Steinbeck and his writing.

What I hope is that each of you will write a paragraph or very short chapter of a novel, emulating his qualities and struggles, not necessarily his style. I would like you to share what you have written and how you came to write it – an entry in your own journal! I welcome suggestions about how people can be relaxed in the sharing process.




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1 Response to January 2017 Selection: Working Days, Grapes of Wrath

  1. Burk Ketchem says:

    I read and enjoyed “Working Days.” I found Steinbeck’s comment that he did not like joint writing projects to be one with which I agree. Trying to coordinate about five RMBC “authors” in that summer writing project a few years ago was my first joint writing effort. My conclusion after that experience was “never again.” The two major lessons from “Working Days’ for me are that diligence and persistence pays off and in fiction you need to be detailed about the characters and the environment that surrounds and influences their lives.

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