A short critique of John Steinbeck’s East of Eden
Oh my. This is big, Dear Reader.
I just found my new all-time favorite novel.
Yep. It’s true.
(What was the former all-time favorite, you ask? Unsurprisingly, it was Steinbeck’s The Grapes of Wrath. It’s the only book (with the exception of books I’ve taught) that I’ve read twice.)
East of Eden, yo. It slid past Grapes for first place in my heart.
But I am getting ahead of myself.
. . .
East of Eden by John Steinbeck (1952)
I firmly believe that Steinbeck’s writing is best enjoyed in small, slow sips. Like a fine whisky, his stories are nuanced. There are countless moments of beauty, honesty, and tenderness. So please: do not rush through his works. They are much too lovely to swallow in a single gulp.
As for East of Eden, it’s a novel that’s been on my list since high school. And now that I’ve read it, I can’t imagine my life without it.
In a tiny nutshell (I promised to be succinct!) this novel follows the lives of two American families at turn of the 20th century. The families are loosely based on Steinbeck’s own ancestors, and the story also draws parallels to the biblical tale of Cain and Abel. It’s detailed, personal, and in a word, a masterpiece.
In closing, you need to know there are delicious one-liners are nearly every page. I’d love to produce a collection of tee shirts with all of the quotes from this novel. (Hmm. New project? Stay tuned.)
So my favorite quote? I’m going to have to pick a page, any page:
“[…] And, of course, people are interested only in themselves. If a story is not about the hearer he will not listen. And I here make a rule–a great and lasting story is about everyone or it will not last. The strange and foreign is not interesting–only the deeply personal and familiar” (Steinbeck).
This is spoken by Lee, who may be my new favorite character in all of literature. (Okay, besides Ebenezer Scrooge. He’ll always be number one.)
So there we have it, friends. Snap’s latest book review, which happens to be her new favorite novel.
I hate when people over-hype things, but I just couldn’t help myself.
This is a piece of art.
I hope you enjoy it as I have, and surely will again.