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Saturday, August 03, 2019

A rediscovered John Steinbeck short story is a comical tale of a chef and his cat | Arts - PBS NewsHour

Steinbeck's strongest writing talent is in his use of characterization.

A little-known short story by John Steinbeck has been published for the first time in English today, 65 years after it first emerged in a French daily in Paris.

“The Amiable Fleas” was published in July 1954 in “Le Figaro” and is one of 17 articles and short stories Steinbeck wrote as part of his “An American in Paris” series. At the time, the American novelist was staying in Paris with his family near the Champs-Elysèes, the city’s iconic boulevard.

While Steinbeck’s estate was aware of the short story’s existence, it is being made available to read in English for the first time by literary quarterly The Strand Magazine, today.

“I found this and it struck me,” said Andrew Gulli, managing editor of The Strand, who came across the short story in the Ransom District Library’s online archive... 

Steinbeck, writing to his friend and agent Elizabeth Otis in May 1954, wondered whether he ought to write for a French paper — something like observations and essays, something that was “unmistakably American.” And he did, culminating in the “An American in Paris” series that included “The Amiable Fleas.”

In that story Steinbeck tells the story of a French chef, Monsieur Amitè, and his feline confidant, Apollo the cat, as they prepare for the impending visit of a Michelin star judge to Amitè’s restaurant, The Amiable Flea. The stress of gaining another Michelin star gets to M. Amitè and he kicks Apollo in frustration, resulting in the cat’s abandonment of the restaurant and his owner. M. Amitè then tries to get Apollo back.
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Additional resources

Photo: Nobel Foundation archive.
John Steinbeck - The Nobel Prize in Literature 1962 by The Nobel Prize   

Source: PBS NewsHour