Sunday, May 06, 2012

The DNF Files: The Other Side of Eden: Life With John Steinbeck - John Steinbeck IV

John Steinbeck's younger son, John IV, died in 1991 of a heart attack following surgery for a ruptured disk.  His manuscript for this memoir was unfinished, and his former wife, Nancy, completed it and it was published in 2001.  She  added her own chapters about their life together and interspersed them with John's chapters.  There's also a long foreword by someone else followed by a long introduction by Nancy, much of which gets covered again in the chapters ahead.

There were many interesting and even eyebrow-raising sections, especially about John's early life, but there were even more long sections that were repetitive, rambly and disjointed.  John Steinbeck IV could write clearly and had a sharp sense of humor and irony.  I can't help feeling that his unfinished project would have turned out so much better with a different editor.  I hate to say that I didn't like it or finish it, for it was obviously a labor of love for Nancy Steinbeck, but I only managed to get halfway through before giving up.


Unknown said...

Oh well. I'm in the midst of a literary biography myself, but mine has just started to get really interesting.

What really interests me is the process of creating the art itself, not so much the artist's life. This makes it hard for me to find a biography of a writer or other artist that I'll enjoy. T

Kathleen said...

I love Steinbeck and probably would have picked this one up had I heard of it before reading your review. Sounds like you saved me!