Rare, ‘lost’ John Steinbeck story to be published this week
A short story by John Steinbeck is finally seeing the light of day after being read once on the radio 70 years ago and then all but disappearing.
According to the Associated Press, the story “With Your Wings,” about an African-American World War II pilot, will be released in Birmingham, Michigan-based literary magazine The Strand.
Steinbeck read the story on the air at the conclusion of one of Orson Welles’ World War II radio broadcasts in July of 1944. However, the story was never published in any of Steinbeck’s collected works or by any literary magazine or journal. Some scholars told the AP they’d never even heard of it.
“It doesn’t ring a bell at all,” said antiquarian James Dourgarian to the AP. Dourgarian specializes in rare and first edition printings of Steinbeck’s work. “And that’s saying something if I haven’t heard of it. It’s also surprising because you would think that anything Steinbeck was involved with would be printed some place.”
Andrew F. Gulli, managing editor of The Strand, stumbled across the story in the archives at the University of Texas at Austin. The story will be featured in The Strand’s holiday issue, which goes on sale Friday.
“Steinbeck was an idealist. He saw America as this wonderful land with so much to offer but on the flip side, he could see inequality, he could see greed and excess destroying the working classes,” said Gulli in his introduction to the story. “This story strikes me as an effort to show middle America that African-Americans were carrying on a huge burden in defending the United States and the allies during the war.”