Today is the centennial of John Steinbeck's birth. Born in Salinas, California, on Febuary 27, 1902, Steinbeck went on to write some of the greatest American novels of the twentieth century:
The Grapes of Wrath, East of Eden, The Red Pony, Cannery Row, The Pearl, Of Mice And Men (my favorite), and many more.
Both Salinas, where he was born, and Monterey, where he lived, turned their backs on Steinbeck while he was living. His books gave honest portrayals of the sometimes less-than-honest ways people lived in those particular towns, and the people he wrote about were not too happy about it.
Since then, they've each managed to learn how to show a bit of pride where Steinbeck is concerned (and where money is to be made). Monterey's Cannery Row is a virtual Steinbeck Theme Park, these days - the irony of which would have both made Steinbeck ill, and amused him to no end, I'm sure.
Raise a glass tonight, and join me in a toast to a great American, and a great writer: Wherever people are drinking tonight, he'll be there.
More info: Steinbeck Centennial Celebration (official site) - Steinbeck fresh at 100 - San Jose Mercury News