Post by Emmjay

Hi FoPAs. (Friends of Pig’s Arms)

When I was kid in primary school and later (as it so often turns out) in high school and university, I became an avid reader of John Steinbeck’s short stories.

My favourite, I think was Cannery Row set in Monterey and written around Steinbeck’s best friend, the marine biologist John Ricketts. The story is so beautifully written that I swear the pages are redolent of the fish passing through the cannery.

I was blissfully unaware that Steinbeck won the Nobel Prize for literature, joining another of my favourite writers – Hemingway

I visited Monterey many years ago in search of my hero, but it was a rushed trip and I was heading for home, down the fabled Ventura Highway from San Francisco to Los Angeles and then flying back to Sydney. As the documentary says, Steinbeck is now a celebrated son of Salinas County but it was not always so. The good burghers of Salinas had a history of burning his books for the crime of describing the famers as exploiting their workers – the Mexican fruit pickers and Oakies fleeing the dustbowl of the south eastern states.

It was not uncommon for Republicans to describe Steinbeck as a communist and while he no doubt had leftist sympathies, I doubt that he was a card carrying comrade.

But Steinbeck is big tourist business nowadays and all is apparently forgiven.

I hope you have the time and inclination to watch the documentary – and enjoy it as much as I did.