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Wednesday, May 09, 2007

East of Eden

***** East of Eden by John Steinbeck. General fiction.

Dagny sent this one to me, appalled that I'd never read it. I send her Evanovich, she sends me Steinbeck. If I were an astute kind of person, that might explain some things. Good thing I'm not astute. (I told you I would be doing this quote to death, didn't I?)

I've been putting off writing something about this, meaning that, although I've been reading the same book for over a week now (!! unheard-of!), I'm still behind. I think I'm a little intimidated because it's A Classic.

What the heck. The point is just to say if I liked the book and why or why not. Zillions of people have reviewed and analyzed and dissected this book, and there's really no reason for me to do that. Whew.

So, on the off chance that I'm not the only cultural illiterate out there, East of Eden is the story of the Salinas Valley of California, and about two families, the Hamiltons and the Trasks.

I had a little trouble following the connections between people at first, but it became clear later on. The Hamiltons are Steinbeck's family--in fact, he's in the second part of the story himself as a child, and my guess is they're there to make the story personal, and to contrast with the Trasks and provide a nudge to them once in a while.

Mostly, it's the story of two generations of brothers: Charles and Adam Trask, and Caleb and Aron Trask. Adam was his father's favorite, which caused a lot of problems between the brothers. He later marries and his wife gives birth to twins: Caleb and Aron, and the pattern threatens to repeat itself.

There's a bit of heavy-handed Cain and Abel imagery there, even down to the names, but the characters are so convincingly realistic that it never interfered with the story, and indeed was only apparent when I put the book down for a while. What I really enjoyed was the struggle between Caleb and Aron, trying not to repeat the pattern, and the realization that everything wasn't exactly as it seemed from the outside or on the surface.


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I think that East of Eden was once Oprah's bookclub pick way back when...and I never read it then. I find it interesting that you like this book though.

You right, it is unheard of to see you're still reading the same book for a week now LOL!
I read this a couple of summers ago, and totally loved it. I ran out and bought Grapes of Wrath and never picked it up. Sadly, I don't really remember the story so well, but couldn't believe I'd never read it before.
I loved this when I read it! Haven't picked up any other Steinbeck books yet though!
Tortilla Flat is worth digging up as well -- King Arthur set in Cannery Row (of the Arthur legends, if you're on a fantasy/romance kick, I enjoyed Arthur Rex (Thomas Berger, who also wrote Little Big Man, another novel-much-better-than-the-movie).
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