Monday, June 17, 2013

On John Steinbeck, Gratitude and Dedications

The American novelist, John Steinbeck (1902 - 1968) is probably best known to school-aged readers for his novella, Of Mice and Men.

Written in 1937, the book remains fresh and relevant and is still found on many school reading lists today.  Readers aged 14 and upwards are more likely to appreciate this book than younger readers.

I've been thinking about John Steinbeck because he also wrote East of Eden, one of my favourite books when I was about 16 years old.  The book was made into a film starring the actor, James Dean, who became a cultural icon of teenage angst following his untimely death at the age of 24.  He died in 1955 in a car accident.  If you are under 14 years, both the book and the film are worth keeping in mind to check out when you are a bit older.

So, why am I telling the readership of a kids book club about books intended for older readers?  

It's because of the dedication John Steinbeck wrote in East of Eden.  It is the best dedication I know and something you can read now - even though I recommend that you wait a couple of years to read the book.  Click on the image below to enlarge it.

(East of Eden by John Steinbeck (Bantam Books, 1955).  First published by The Viking Press Inc, 1952)

Lucky Pat! Imagine have a book like East of Eden dedicated to you in such a beautiful way.

I remembered this dedication because I've been thinking that it's time to thank all the people who helped make this blog happen:

To all the contributors to the May platform, my heartfelt gratitude and thanks.

Particular thanks to Deborah Abela, Tristan Bancks and Anthony Eaton.  Without your support, this site would have remained just another good idea with potential.  Also, many thanks to Ursula Dubosarsky, Jackie French and Isobelle Carmody who responded positively and promptly to emails arriving out of the blue, despite your busy schedules.

To Wayne Mills and Nicole Deans for running with my ambitious idea and to both of you, Janine Hudson and Marj Brown of the Kids' Lit Quiz community for helping slot pieces into place to get it going. 

To Gordon Renouf, Simon Rice, Susan Bridge, James Burnett, Libby Baulch, Maya Corfield, Shelley Kenigsberg, Kate Haddock, Scot Morris and Michelle Guthrie for your wise counsel and helpful suggestions.

To Sharon and Penelope for organising book reviews in busy households where reading books rather than writing about them is the priority.  And to Penny for helping us find a blog designer.  Particular thanks to David Harvey for single-handedly informing libraries throughout Australia about the website.

To Adrienne, Georgia, Fraser, David, Imogen, Michael and Tony for letting me take advantage of our friendship.

To my family and friends, apologies for my distraction over the last couple of months - and for failing to provide dinner on more than one occasion.  Most of all, to Matthew, without whom none of this would be possible.

Finally, to everyone who has visited this blog - to readers the world over - I hope you find something here that makes your day a little brighter and that you visit again.

Thank you all.

I love John Steinbeck's metaphor:  a book is a carved wooden box into which a writer puts all the creative energy that goes into the writing but, still, this does not fill the box - perhaps because it takes the reader to complete the process.  The best books are always ones we can share.

This book club can be our crafted wooden box.  We can fill it with whatever we like - and it will never be quite full.

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