Louis Owens

One of the most interesting and important books written about John Steinbeck is John Steinbeck’s Re-Vision of America by Louis Owens.  The book was published by the University of Georgia Press in 1985.  This hardcover with dust jacket is an expansion of the author’s doctoral thesis.  With this landmark study Owens “examines how Steinbeck used this would-be Eden (California) to explore the moral bankruptcy of American society, to explore the corruption that lay beneath the beckoning surface of the American dream.”

This very scarce book seldom comes to the market.  When it does, it is commonly found with fading along the dust jacket spine panel.

Front cover of dust jacket

Front cover of dust jacket

Owens, of Choctaw, Cherokee, and Irish decent, knew Steinbeck’s subject matter better than most  —  because he lived it.  He was born into poverty, the offspring of migrant workers.  He was the first in his family to graduate from college.

Owens became an important scholar and an important novelist who featured Native Americans.  He received the American Book Award in 1997 for his Nightland.

Unfortunately, this rising star took his own life, dying one week after his 54th birthday in July of 2002.  At the time of his death he was director of the creative writing program at the University of California, Davis where Owens earned his doctorate in 1981.  He left a wife and two daughters  —  in addition to the many followers of his work who wanted more.

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In the coming weeks and months, I plan to change directions now and then.  The majority of this blog is for discussion of books and book collecting.  After all, I am a member of the Antiquarian Bookseller’s Association of America.  I have been a bookseller for more than 33 years.  And I started collecting books 13 years before I became a professional bookseller.  But I am also a writer, having been a journalist in my early working days.  I have also been published in periodicals, often (but not always) on book collecting topics.  I am currently writing a family memoir.  Some chapters stand alone.  My plan to pluck those that can stand alone and publish them within this blog.  Those who have read some of these chapters think of them as short stories.  They are not.  You can’t make this stuff up.  I will be anxious to hear your responses.

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