Does anyone know of any open positions available at the University of Texas in Austin?
You see, it sounds like the only possible way to read a book manuscript that has me very intrigued it to somehow get access to the Harry Ransom Center archives at the university.
Getting a job there would likely be easier than planning a “Mission Impossible” style break-in, but I am so excited about this particular historical manuscript that I am prepared go all Ethan Hunt on this.
According to media reports, including a piece by Dalya Alberge in The Guardian from which I will be quoting here, the Ransom Center is where a long-lost, unpublished John Steinbeck novel is housed.
Now sure, there are plenty of great books by Steinbeck that I could read or reread without changing jobs or planning an elaborate heist. Steinbeck has long been one of my favorite writers — despite the fact that I did not actually read “The Grapes of Wrath” as assigned in high school.
I’m not sure which of his books first hooked me just a couple years later in college. I think I read “Cannery Row” first, then “Travels with Charley: In Search of America.” Both left on me an indelible mark.
To be a writer and read someone as talented as Steinbeck is intimidating. Crack open “East of Eden” and read the first few pages, you’ll see what I mean.
And now comes news that buried in that archive in Texas is a Steinbeck novel unread by the general public.
Not surprisingly, it is set in one of Steinbeck’s coastal California towns, but it is not about down-on-their-luck families.
If it was, I would hope that one day it might be broadly published, but I wouldn’t be anywhere near as excited as I am about the push to print this particular story.
“There would be a huge public interest in a totally unknown werewolf novel by one of the best-known, most read American writers of the 20th century,” Gavin Jones, an American literature professor at Stanford University, told The Guardian.
You saw it right? Just one word that makes this unpublished book so exceptionally intriguing: “werewolf.”
John Steinbeck wrote a horror novel about a werewolf? Yes, please.
Here’s how Alberge describes it in The Guardian: “Set in a fictional Californian coastal town, Murder at Full Moon tells the story of a community gripped by fear after a series of gruesome murders takes place under a full moon. Investigators fear that a supernatural monster has emerged from the nearby marshes. Its characters include a cub reporter, a mysterious man who runs a local gun club and an eccentric amateur sleuth who sets out to solve the crime using techniques based on his obsession with pulp detective fiction.”
It appears the story behind the unpublished “Murder at Full Moon” is that it is one of several manuscripts by a young Steinbeck that publishers rejected.
While the other two were reportedly destroyed by the the man who would go on to win the Nobel Prize for Literature, his werewolf manuscript written under the pen name Peter Pym survives, though hidden away in Texas.
So look, there was enough public outcry to get Warner Bros. to spend millions refilming a mediocre movie about superheroes. Can we all put the same energy into convincing Steinbeck’s estate to #releasethewerewolfbook?
Daniel Divilio is the editor of the Kent County News. Email him at ddivilio@the