Ever since I read East of Eden in like grade 11 it’s been one of my favourite books. I’ve never read anything else by Steinbeck, I’ve always meant to, but he’s remained someone to whom I ascribe brilliant writing to.
In any case, the other night I went to visit a relative just up the coast about half an hour and after dinner we got to talking books. Being a writer, I think I naturally have the instinct to steer all conversations in this direction—much as a boxer or engineer might direct the focus towards the latest matches or innovations in airframe technology or the sturdiest rivets or something. I don’t know. I’m not an engineer. In any case, they mentioned that my maternal grandfather was a friend of John Steinbeck.
Apparently the two of them used to go boating and fishing together, and had a good friendship that lasted many years. A trophy of this friendship happened to be a book, Sweet Thursday, that Steinbeck had autographed for my grandfather.
I was thrilled to hold such a valuable little artefact in my hands. Simply knowing that one of my favourite authors had been a friend of the family was thrilling enough, but to actually have a relic of those days was enormously exciting. It reminds me of the associations of Hemingway with Gertrude Stein and Picasso and F. Scott Fitzgerald and all the others.
I wonder if someday I’ll be friends with a famous author or artist and can simply call on them for tea or a drive up the coast to our favourite cafe. Or perhaps, better yet, people will speak with reverence as they hold a book by Pearson Sharp, autographed to their grandfather, and they try to imagine what it might have been like to know me. An author can dream.