He wrote about poor people struggling to survive and about dispossessed people grappling for a piece of land they could call their own. He wrote about inarticulate men groping to express truths “locked in wordlessness.” He wrote about America—the land and the people—as though it were one living organism, and he did so more eloquently than anyone since Walt Whitman. In an extraordinarily prolific career that lasted from 1929 to the 1960s, John Steinbeck created stories and characters that, in the words of Pascal Covici, Jr., this volume’s editor, combine “the gusto of Homer … along with the thoughtfulness of Emerson.”
The Portable Steinbeck is a grand sampling of this writer’s most important works. Here are the complete novels Of Mice and Men and The Red Pony together with self-contained excerpts from The Long Valley, Tortilla Flat, In Dubious Battle (celebrated as “America’s best strike novel”), The Grapes of Wrath, his epic of the Okie migration of the Great Depression, Cannery Row, East of Eden, Travels with Charley and other books; two previously uncollected short stories; and the 1962 Nobel Prize Acceptance Speech. The result is a collection that overflows with Steinbeck’s prodigal richness of language, humor that is by turns broad and deadpan sly, and empathy for even the most flawed and suffering of his characters.