My Challenges (timed)


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My Challenges (perpetual)

100 SHOTS OF SHORT
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CHECKIN’ OFF THE CHEKHOV
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THE COMPLETE BOOKER
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MARTEL-HARPER CHALLENGE
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MODERN LIBRARY'S 100 BEST NOVELS

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NATIONAL BOOK AWARDS
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THE PULITZER PROJECT
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TAMMY'S BEYOND BOOKS CHALLENGE

New York Times Book Review: 6/40
New Yorker: 0/36
New York Review of Books: 0/20
Vogue: 1/16
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Friday, June 27, 2008

East of Eden by John Steinbeck

Synopsis from Barnes & Noble: "This sprawling and often brutal novel, set in the rich farmlands of California's Salinas Valley, follows the intertwined destinies of two families--the Trasks and the Hamiltons--whose generations helplessly reenact the fall of Adam and Eve and the poisonous rivalry of Cain and Abel."

I can't even begin to tell you how much I liked this book. I've always liked Steinbeck, but have never read enough of his works to know if that feeling was justified. Having finished this one, I can say that I feel much more confident in my judgment. Steinbeck's descriptions of places made me feel like I was right there, and his descriptions of people show a wonderful understanding of human desires and actions.

One thing this book did was make me think more about the cause (if there is one) of good and evil. I absolutely believe there are such things in the world, but the question of where they come from has always intrigued me. For the most part, I tend to think that "bad" people are the result of abuse, neglect, or the like, but I wonder if that's always true? Doesn't seem like it can be, since there have been people who seemed to have perfectly normally childhoods and who turned out bad anyway. How did that happen? Is it just something that's in humans naturally? I don't know the answers and this book didn't provide them, but it did make me think about the issue more.

Finally, I'm quite anxious now to see the movie version (not least because it starred James Dean). I'm always a little nervous about watching a movie based on a book that I loved -- there's always a chance that they really screwed it up. But I've heard good things about this one, so hopefully I won't be disappointed.

2 comments:

Heather J. said...

I'm glad you enjoyed this one. It was my book club's very first book and although difficult for some, we all got a lot out of it. (Personally, I LOVED it.)

I will say, though, that we really DID NOT like the movie. Without giving anything away, I'll just say that the movie begins somewhere in the last 1/3 of the book. You don't get to meet some of the really interesting characters from the first part, and you don't get the necessary background on the characters to DO meet so their actions seem unfounded.

I hope I didn't give away too much there - I just didn't want you to go into the movie with high hopes; we were excited to watch it as a club, but bitterly disappointed in the end.

Tammy said...

Your description sounds like what I was expecting from the movie. That's the problem with movies based on books, they generally leave out so much. That's why I always try to read the book first (that and in case I hate the movie, it won't influence my feelings for the book as much).