Parini (Bay of Arrows, LJ 8/83; English, Middlebury Coll.) writes an engaging biography of the quintessential California writer. Steinbeck won the Nobel Prize in 1962 for his exceptional and enduring book, The Grapes of Wrath (1940), along with his other numerous novels and short stories. His relatively uncomplicated life story is told plainly here, with some analysis of his influences and psychology. Steinbeck's inner life was characterized by co-existent self-belief and self-doubt: "He both wanted and feared recognition and approbation; he sought them, and when they appeared, he did his best to resist them." Parini based his research of this underrated author on interviews, as well as letters, diaries, and manuscripts, some unpublished. While biographer Jackson Benson's extensive The True Adventures of John Steinbeck (LJ 8/83) is more scholarly, this book is highly recommended for libraries not owning the British edition (Heinemann, 1994). [Previewed in Prepub Alert, LJ 9/15/94.]-Janice Braun, Hoover Institution Lib., Stanford, Cal.