book beginnings on Friday: Sea of Cortez: A Leisurely Journal of Travel and Research by John Steinbeck and Edward F. Ricketts

Thanks to Rose City Reader for hosting this meme. To participate, share the first line or two of the book you are currently reading and, if you feel so moved, let us know what your first impressions were based on that first line.

sea of cortez

I am feeling good to have finally found time to open a big fat Steinbeck book I have had on my shelves for years (and yes, moved across the country with me). Coauthor Ed Ricketts was, among other things, the model for the character Doc in Steinbeck’s Cannery Row. That was my first Steinbeck, and I loved it, and thus that was my introduction to Ricketts. I have heard about their shared work of nonfiction for years, and spent some time myself on the Sea of Cortez, kayaking by day and sleeping on the beaches of Baja by night. So, much to look forward to here.

The very first lines paid off.

The design of a book is the pattern of a reality controlled and shaped by the mind of the writer. This is completely understood about poetry or fiction, but it is too seldom realized about books of fact. And yet the impulse which drives a man to poetry will send another man into the tide pools and force him to try to report what he finds there.

I have been studying creative nonfiction writing for a while now (aside from reading and appreciating it), so this concept really struck me. I knew I could count on Steinbeck. Now when will I find the time for East of Eden?

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