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Wednesday, 6 May 2020


Available for freelance writing commissions on a variety of subjects including family history, nostalgic Belfast and its famous people, shops, shoppers & shopping, the golden age of Hollywood (esp westerns) and humorous pieces on life's weird and wonderful. Op-eds, columns, non-fiction book reviews too. & @JoeCushnan

I have a portfolio of features, reviews, poetry and short fiction published in all sorts of places - Belfast Telegraph, Tribune, Ireland's Own, Dalhousie Review, Fairlight Books, Reader's Digest, Reality, Lapwing Poetry, Ink, Sweat & Tears, Spillwords, Dear Reader, Amethyst Review, to name a selection.  Oh, and the odd BBC radio contribution. 

This is a series of very, very short items that have nothing to do with the current news agenda.  Swift diversions for a moment or two.

Apropos of Nothing #19 – 6 May 1940

On 6 May 1940, John Steinbeck was awarded the Pulitzer Prize for The Grapes of Wrath.  The story was set in the Great Depression, focusing on the Joads, a farming family forced to leave their Oklahoma home because of severe drought, changes in the agricultural industry and bank foreclosures leading to economic hardship.   Along with other similar families in the same situation, Tom Joad and his family head for California seeking work and a new lease of life.  The struggles and suffering continue, as it becomes apparent that a vast number of people are on the same journey to find work and a better future. Poverty and hopelessness are constant companions.

On the surface, the premise suggests a miserable story but, whilst it is a harrowing read at times, it is never dull thanks to Steinbeck’s gift for descriptive storytelling and plain-speaking characters.The Pulitzer award prompted strong feelings in the literary world, a mixture of high praise and harsh criticism.

The title of the book comes from The Battle Hymn of the Republic:

'Mine eyes have seen the glory of the coming of the Lord:
He is trampling out the vintage where the grapes of wrath are stored;
He hath loosed the fateful lightning of His terrible swift sword:
His truth is marching on.'

Steinbeck won the Nobel Prize for Literature in 1962 for his 'realistic and imaginative writing, combining as it does sympathetic humour and keen social perception.' 

Sources: Various

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