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On the Books: New John Steinbeck story published

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John Steinbeck
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Fans of John Steinbeck, set down your copies of Of Mice and Men and East of Eden. A vintage short story by the author—one virtually unknown, even to scholars of his work—has finally been published. Andrew F. Gulli, the managing editor of The Strand magazine, discovered a transcript of the story, titled “With Your Wings,” when perusing archives at the University of Texas at Austin. The Strand published the story, which is about a black World War II pilot, in its holiday issue that hit newsstands today.

Why haven’t we heard about this story before? In July 1944, iconic broadcaster Orson Welles ended a wartime radio broadcast with a reading of the story, but because “With Your Wings” never appeared in a book or a magazine it faded into obscurity. “It doesn’t ring a bell at all,” said James Dourgarian, who sells first editions of Steinbeck books. “That’s saying something if I haven’t heard of it.” [Associated Press]

We’re also getting fresh material from another long-dormant literary classic. About 20 years ago, Bill Watterson ended his iconic comic strip Calvin and Hobbes, but he just released a new comic. Watterson drew the comic to serve as the poster for France’s Angoulême International Comics Festival, for which he’s the primary honoree. Neither of his most famous characters appear, but the piece is still a hoot. [The Week]

Crown has purchased the rights to prolific author and journalist Greg Mitchell’s new nonfiction work. The Tunnels: JFK vs. CBS & NBC will analyze the effort by American news networks to assist West Germans attempting to rescue loved ones from Communist-ruled East Berlin following World War II. Film rights for the juicy story have already been sold to FilmNation entertainment; the product will be directed by Paul Greengrass (Captain PhillipsUnited 93) and produced by Mark Gordon (The MessengerSaving Private Ryan). [Publishers Weekly]

Ever wonder what your favorite author was thinking while writing their definitive works? Thanks to a benefit scheduled for Dec. 2, you might get to find out. For the auction, titled “First Editions/Second Thoughts,” authors including Toni Morrison, Patti Smith, Junot Diaz, and Philip Roth have gone back and annotated first editions of their works with notes and drawings. Proceeds will benefit New York’s PEN American Center. [L.A. Times]