Saturday, June 07, 2008

Book: The Grapes of Wrath

Somehow, I made it through AP English as a high school senior without reading any John Steinbeck. A few years back, I opted to read East of Eden because I had seen a clip of the movie (I am a big James Dean fan) and the subject appealed to me. East of Eden became one of my all-time favorite books. Knowing that The Grapes of Wrath is seen as Steinbeck's finest novel, and most likely the reason he was awarded the Nobel Prize, I thought I should give it a go.

I enjoy reading "classic" literature, but I don't read it just so that I can say I have. I want to enjoy it. And if I don't, then I won't continue reading it. This novel was a hard one for me to read. Having just come off of several current action-packed, fast-paced novels, Grapes shoved me into slow motion. Which is fitting, considering the content of the story.

The novel is written in an interesting narrative fashion, where every other chapter is story progression, and the chapters in between are more general commentaries on the situation at the time. These "in between" chapters make for better understanding of the situation across the board, and that more than just the story's family, the Joads, are affected. That is to say that you could read the story much faster if you skimmed over or skipped these chapters altogether, but you would be missing out on an important aspect of the story.

I feel like I just wrote a paper for school or something. This wasn't my favorite book ever. In fact, it wasn't my favorite John Steinbeck novel. I am sure it says something about my reading tastes, but I preferred East of Eden. I liked the inter-relational subject matter and familial turmoil of that story, where this was more about the external events affecting the internal outcome. The story ends rather abruptly, and while I got the gist that nothing could kill the human spirit, I just found it wanting and lonely feeling. I still feel like this book is well worth reading and very telling about the times in which it was written.

Stay tuned for the movie review as I have it saved on my Tivo.

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