Friday, January 7, 2011

Re-Visiting Steinbeck: An early contender for best book read in 2011!

Whatever your weekend plans are, you might want to strongly consider canceling them and getting your hands on a copy of East of Eden.  Recently recommended to me by a colleague, I remembered reading Of Mice and Men in school (was it Mr. Schneider's class?).  I don't remember being particularly fond of that book, but East of Eden is a very early contender for one of the best books I will read in 2011 (and possibly of all time).  

My copy was exactly 600 pages, and I would have kept reading had Steinbeck kept going.  East of Eden is the epic tale of the Trask family and the Hamilton family at the turn of the 20th century in Salinas Valley, California, not so very far from where I sit here writing this post.  The characters are beautifully rendered, the dialogue smart and gritty and achingly honest at times.  The reader comes to know the characters intimately, through both their words and their silences.  This is, ultimately, the story of brothers growing up and growing differently.  There are so many memorable scenes in this novel, particularly between the Trask brothers.  Here are a few of my favorite quotes:

"Oh, strawberries don't taste as they used to and the thighs of women have lost their clutch!"

"Don't you want our rabbit?"

"It is probable that Adam did not even know he did it, but the caress brought such a raging flood of emotion to the boy that he saved this special joy and used it only when he needed it.  It was a magic to be depended upon."

I will let you discover your own favorite passages.  I will be reading more Steinbeck very soon, though I may have to space it out over time so as to have his wonderful, luminous writing to look forward to for a long time to come.

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