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Working Days: The Journals of The Grapes of Wrath Paperback – December 1, 1990


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Working Days: The Journals of The Grapes of Wrath + Journal of a Novel: The East of Eden Letters + Steinbeck: A Life in Letters
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Product Details

  • Paperback: 240 pages
  • Publisher: Penguin Books; Reprint edition (December 1, 1990)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0140144579
  • ISBN-13: 978-0140144574
  • Product Dimensions: 5.1 x 0.6 x 7.7 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 5.6 ounces (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 4.5 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (15 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #65,186 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Editorial Reviews

From Publishers Weekly

While writing his greatest novel in 1938, Steinbeck kept a journal that chronicled his torments, self-doubts, late and false starts, reversals and other struggles to achieve his goal. There are references to his typist-wife Carol Henning, his agent Elizabeth Otis, his publisher Pascal Covici and to the documentary filmmaker Pare Lorentz, whose style strongly influenced the structure of Steinbeck's novel. Entry #100, 26 October 1938, ends, "Finished this dayand I hope to God it's good." Another 21 entries deal with the aftermath, to January 1941. The repetitiveness and at times boring nature of the journal may deter general readers, who will, however, appreciate the extensive introduction, comments, notes and annotations of DeMott, professor of English at Ohio University.
Copyright 1989 Reed Business Information, Inc. --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.

From School Library Journal

YA-- Divided into three parts, each with commentary, deMott provides preface and acknowledgements as well as a context-setting introduction for events and people in John Steinbeck's life during the time he wrote The Grapes of Wrath. Concluding with notes and annotations to the journal entries, this book may be a bit more than is needed for most student research at the high-school level. It does, however, provide some fascinating details on the great American writer's life and writing style, and gives insight into Steinbeck's commitment and dedication to his work.
- Jenni Elliott, Episcopal High School, Bellaire, TX
Copyright 1989 Reed Business Information, Inc. --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.

Customer Reviews

4.5 out of 5 stars
5 star
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4 star
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2 star
13%
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See all 15 customer reviews
It's good to know that even the best have felt that way.
sophie23
If you enjoyed reading Grapes of Wrath, or any other books by Steinbeck...get this book.
Suzanne Elizabeth Anderson
A nice diary of how the writer worked day by day to build one his masterpiece.
CESARE BERNARDO

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

27 of 27 people found the following review helpful By C. Ebeling on January 2, 2001
Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
Working Days is for Steinbeck readers or any student of creative processes and habits of successful people. John Steinbeck wrote the beefy The Grapes of Wrath like a freight train, averaging 2,000 words a day in longhand, from June through October, 1938. He did not do this in isolation. He got up an average of five days a week, had breakfast, wrote in his journal, then went to work until early evening, while hammers from neighborhood construction pounded relentlessly, amid human intrusions of all kinds, a souring stomach and self doubt. He was a purposeful journal-keeper, using it to set the goals for the day, to talk himself into character development and plot movement. No doubt the journal also served to subconsiously swat away the distractions so he could focus on the work. Working Days is edited by Robert Demott who has seemingly devoted his career to the meticulous scrutiny of Steinbeck's life, works and habits. If there can be a criticism of this volume, it's that Demott hovers too much; his is, for instance, one of the longest critical introductions I've come across. But this does not detract from the enjoyment of crawling around in Steinbeck's mind, which the journal freely permits.
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10 of 10 people found the following review helpful By Suzanne Elizabeth Anderson on March 30, 2001
Format: Paperback
If you enjoyed reading Grapes of Wrath, or any other books by Steinbeck...get this book. If you want to follow a writer through the process of creating an important novel, get this book. The daily journal entries written by Steinbeck show the ebb and flow of his moods, his confidence that he was indeed writing a great book, and those days when he felt that he lacked the talent to pull it off. It is rare to get the opportunity to watch an artist create....this is pretty darn close. And a good read!
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27 of 34 people found the following review helpful By Rich Duprey on April 10, 2001
Format: Paperback
I found this work diary of Steinbeck to be far less informative than I had imagined it would be. Aside from his daily ruminations that he was unsure if "Grapes" would be a good book, there was little revealed as to his creative process. How did he create his characters? Why did he use certain plot devices? Where did his inspirations come from? All this was lacking.
If you read Christopher Tolkien's works on his father's "Lord of the Rings," you see the work created before you. You can see how a character developed, how a plot changed. In "Working Days" there is none of that. It is simply repetitive admonitions to himself to work harder. It became tedious and a great many times I wondered if the editor had simply repeated previous entries and only changed their number.
"Working Days" is interesting, but don't be fooled into thinking you are going to be there at the birth of a great novel.
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10 of 12 people found the following review helpful By A Customer on December 16, 1998
Format: Paperback
This journal of Steinbeck's progress through Grapes of Wrath gives an inside view of what was on his mind when writing the novel. Interesting to see what Grapes of Wrath looked like from the inside out.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful By Spider Monkey on January 9, 2011
Format: Paperback
`Working Days', as it's title suggests, is a diary written during the writing of Steinbeck masterpiece `The Grapes of Wrath'. This also covers the period afterwards when he is dealing with the praise and political backlash and trying to start writing again. This has an extensive introduction by the editor, as well as a commentary at the start of each section and each diary entry has notes on some of the more obscure references. These notes were in the back and I spent the whole book flicking back and forth and it may have been better to include them as footnotes. That aside, they did clarify certain points very well for me. This diary shows Steinbeck's working method, as well as his day to day life and his fears, paranoia and frustration with writing this novel. The writing style is very staccato and he admits he only used the diary to get his daily writing flowing (he used to write letters for the same purpose) and this has some, but much less, of the beauty of his novels. Instead it is a raw rendering of his emotional state during this exhausting book creation. This has some photos in the middle that show some of the manuscript pages, people mentioned in the book, as well as the house he wrote the novel in and they make for an interesting glimpse into his world. All in all this is a fascinating, but slightly dry, look at Steinbeck's inner world and is only of real interest to huge fans or scholars.

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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful By DCantu on July 1, 2013
Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
one of the best pieces of literature, the passion and sincerity leaps from the page and comes to life and speaks
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It's very interesting to read about Steinbeck's self-doubt; that's the one thing I will always remember from this book, especially when I feel defeated about something in my own life. He'd already published several acclaimed books, "Of Mice and Men" was a successful play, and he still said, "I'm not a writer; I've been fooling everybody, including myself." There are periods that he would get really down on himself and other times when he had to shut people out because he had to be productive. Very inspiring, especially if you're undertaking something like a dissertation or other big project that makes you feel hopeless at times. It's good to know that even the best have felt that way.
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Working Days: The Journals of The Grapes of Wrath
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