Monday, April 4, 2005

Steinbeck's Salinas

From an article by Carolyn Marshall in today's New York Times:

The reputation of this farming community, known as the Salad Bowl of the World, has been burnished by giants of American history like the civil rights leader Cesar Chavez, who organized the area's farmworkers, and John Steinbeck, a native son who borrowed images from the landscape and Depression-era residents in writing "The Grapes of Wrath."

The pride, fear and hope Steinbeck described were in evidence this weekend as residents, celebrities and best-selling authors gathered for a 24-hour emergency read-in to try to avert an unwelcome footnote to Salinas's legacy: the impending closing of the city's three public libraries.

Unless the city can raise $500,000 by June 30, the John Steinbeck, Cesar Chavez and El Gabilan Libraries will be shuttered, victims of the city's $9 million budget shortfall. If the branches are closed, Salinas will become the nation's largest city without a public library.

The read-in, organized by groups including Code Pink and the Salinas Action League, began Saturday afternoon and included a pitched-tent sleepover on the lawn of the Chavez library and readings by authors including Anne Lamott and Maxine Hong Kingston.
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