'Tis the Seasoning

The Moon Is Down by John Steinbeck

I remember picking this book up at a local bookstore. It was a wonderful old copy. You know, the kind that has a cover retail of 25¢? I love those.

I felt like reading a short war-related book, so this fit the bill perfectly. I read this book, All Is Quiet on the Western Front and Storm of Steel in short succession. Nothing like bleak war novels to scare/depress the heck out of you.

Anyway, The Moon Is Down is about a small coal-mining town that gets overrun and conquered by an invading force. As with all military-occupied areas, there can be no true peace where freedom is taken away. The army that has invaded the town knows it but still tries to keep order. Things come to a slow boil: soldiers go missing, equipment keeps "breaking," some townsfolk are executed.

The novel does an excellent job of showing us characters on both sides of the conflict. They are all people, after all.

About the illustration:
I like how this composition turned out. Steinbeck made certain to not point out any specific groups of people, though he was most certainly targeting the Nazis as the invaders. The book was published and snuck into Nazi-controlled areas.

I kept the faces out of sight, instead focusing on the character's intent. You can see a soldier kicking back and expecting some food. He's not really expecting a dose of poison, however. In my head, the lady making/bringing the food to the soldier (who has taken residency in her inn) just found out that her husband was taken by the invaders and executed for being a "conspirator." So she's taking a little revenge. Maybe she won't give a lethal dose. Maybe she'll just add in enough to make the man sick, and then she'll have some friends "take care of him" when he is incapacitated.



Denise Gallagher said...

Hey Burt!

I love the tilt of the woman's head... as if she's making the decision. I love that all you see of the soldier are his hat, boots and demanding finger. This is really a wonderful illustration. The bits of red are especially menacing!

Great work!


Burt said...

Thanks, Denise!

I like to imagine she has this big ol' pretend grin on her face, to make the soldier feel welcome.

raindog said...

agreed. the addition of the little bit of red adds that sinister element. very nice. i'll take your word on this story, however. i promised myself after a failed bout with the grapes of wrath that steinbeck wasnt my cup o tea.

Elise said...

i love the graphic quality of this, and that she's primarily white, while the soldier and poison is the black.
your choice in not showing faces paid off.
sorry i post so after the fact, i get behind and have to catch up!