Wednesday, March 18, 2009

East of Eden- John Steinbeck

East of Eden (Centennial Edition) East of Eden by John Steinbeck

My review

rating: 5 of 5 stars
So, whenever people asked me to pick a favorite book, a common question as both an English teacher and an author, I usually dodged it as best I could. Asking me to pick a favorite book is like asking me to pick a favorite pair of shoes. I just can't; I love them all too much. However, when pressed I would usually say East of Eden, even though I hadn't read it since high school, which has been, we'll just say a while. So, I decided to re-read this classic novel to see if it still held such a special place in my heart. I have to say, it does. Maybe not number one any more, but at least tied or possibly number two.

East of Eden can really only be described as sweeping. The novel follows Adam Trask most closely, from his childhood to old age, though all of the people who have an affect on his life: his brother, wife, neighbor and sons, are all developed fully as characters. Trask, after growing up angry and afraid of both his father and brother, is forced to join the Army and upon release takes his inherited fortune and moves to the Salinas Valley. With the support of his servant, Lee, and his prophetic neighbor Sam Hamilton, Trask survives being left by his wife (who sets up a whorehouse in a nearby town) and raises his twin boys.

This isn't a plot driven book. So, if you are looking for a thrilling page turner, keep on moving. However, East of Eden is like sitting down to a grand eight course dinner. The descriptions are fantastically detailed and the pacing slow. This is a book to be savored and enjoyed. The writing is both literary, lyrical and accessible and the plot and theme well carried out. There's a reason this book is a classic that has stood the test of time- it's beautiful. If you haven't read this book... do it now, and savor it like you would a really fine cut of steak- or tofu or whatever.

View all my reviews.


I_am_Tulsa said...

Thank you for reminding me of a beautiful book. I reread Grapes of Wrath a couple of years ago and was surprised at how much I loved it the second time around. Steinbeck may not be full of suspense but I love the way he describes scenery...I can feel the winds, and smell the smells in his books.

Amanda said...

I loved Grapes of Wrath when I read it last year, and plan to read East of Eden this summer. I can't wait! I'm glad to read your review.

moonrat said...

hey!! this is like THE ONE steinbeck i haven't read yet. my sophomore year english teacher said dire things about it, and since i essentially let her advice dictate the rest of my life since her classroom, i've never picked it up. although i must admit she was wrong about herman melville, who did not, in fact, turn out to be delightful.

so maybe i should try.

Dana said...

Haha! Though I haven't read Melville, I can't imagine him being delightful. If you've liked other Steinbeck, I'm sure you'd love East of Eden... but I may be biased. Oh... and you're definitely not rude (re: crazy author on the phone) :) I couldn't have been so composed.