Saturday, November 08, 2014

Lost Steinbeck Story Is Published in The Strand Magazine

In one of those "you have to be kidding" moments, a long forgotten short story from the pen of John Steinbeck has just been published in The Strand Magazine (November 7) - as in, published for the first time anywhere.  The story, entitled "With Your Wings" was written specially for Orson Welles to use at the end of one of his 1944 wartime radio broadcasts.  The story seems to have disappeared after that.

But, as recounted by The Telegraph, the magazine's managing editor discovered the radio show transcript in University of Texas archives and - most importantly - he recognized the significance of what he held in his hands:
In With Your Wings, Second Lieutenant William Thatcher has completed his training, at a time when the military was segregated, and at a farewell ceremony receives silver wings, pinned to his chest. He climbs into his "clattering" Model-A Ford and sets out for an unidentified hometown. He appears to be greeted as a hero, or at least a celebrity, passing "crowded porches" and children "washed and dressed in their best and starchiest clothes, hair bursting with ribbons."
John Steinbeck
"He could hear the rustle as the neighbours moved silently near and formed a half circle behind him," Steinbeck wrote. "It was as though his own people were sitting in judgment on him. He took off his cap with the gold eagle on it and held it in his hand. He saw his tall father lick his lips. And then his father said softly, 'Son, every black man in the world is going to fly with your wings."
John Steinbeck has long been a favorite author of mine.  Now I'm curious - and I can't wait to get my hands on a copy of this issue of the magazine.

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