Shake It For The World, Smartass

First, you gotta love the title, right?  Americans!  Its staid British publisher was a bit more mild.  They dropped the Smartass from the title.

Front cover of dust jacket

Front cover of dust jacket

The book was published by Dial Press in 1970.  The specific book in question is a review copy with a review slip, meaning it probably went to a book reviewer at some newspaper.  Such review copies are considered more collectible as they might include material later excised from the book.  Collectors prized them highly.

Review Slip

Review Slip

Author Seymour Krim was a Beat writer.  The book is a collection of his essays or small pieces.  He writes about Normal Mailer, James Jones, Jack Kerouac, Eldridge Cleaver, New York publishing, and writing.  Curiously, the very last piece in the book is titled “When We Went to John Steinbeck’s Funeral Service: This Is What Happened.”  This short piece is on pages 375-378.  It was not recorded by the Goldstone & Payne bibliography of Steinbeck, but it is noted as item No. 615 in the historic Morrow catalogue of the Harry Valentine collection of Steinbeck/Steinbeckiana.

Krim writes that he and a companion were not invited to the formal church service.  They did get to hear Henry Fonda read three poems that Steinbeck liked, but Krim wasn’t impressed with the selections.  He reports that the pallbearers carried the great writer’s coffin with their shoulders, never touching the coffin with their hands.  He mentions Budd Schulberg, Edward Albee, and John O’Hara, without affection, and he’s not particularly complimentary to Steinbeck either.  He writes, “Like Sinclair Lewis, he had lost it by the time he won the Nobel….”  Whatever “it” was that Steinbeck lost, according to Krim, at least he had it to lose.


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