Wednesday, March 24, 2010


Blog Post Section 1

There's a small test I run against various things to probe their greatness. It's highly scientific. If, after experiencing or using or seeing a certain thing, I find myself spontaneously exclaiming, "that was amazing!" or, "I love that," then I know that thing is great. Once or twice I've shouted at myself, "Man! That was fun!" after an exceptionally fun date. Frequently at work, "I love git," escapes my lips unprovoked.

Monday night, East of Eden by Mr. Steinbeck, passed my test-o-greatness. What a fantastic story! I like John's writing style -- how he moves quickly, leaving some things un-described. And the characters in this story seem both realistic and metaphoric. How can I describe that? He has embodiment-of-evil Cathy that could actually be someone you know -- though I don't actually know anyone that evil. Make sense?

And I feel inspired reading the book. Timshel! I can make my life wonderful!

I didn't like Steinbeck's crudeness and vulgarity, however. In fact, due to unnecessary crudeness (I use this word as it's used to describe oil, not stupid bathroom humor), I loathe The Grapes of Wrath. This book had some "rawness" (that seems to be the current, politically correct way to describe something that's not politically correct) that was not needed -- but it didn't flavor every swig of the story as it did the Wrathful Wine.

So, setting that aside, I give East of Eden five stars and a hearty recommendation.

Blog Post Section 2

My last English teacher once remarked that some people spend their whole lives reading the scriptures like they read bumper stickers. I'm considering making a bumper sticker with something like that on it. Therefore, when I share these nice, bumper-sized snippets from the story, don't let that be your only encounter with this book -- these are, after all, only a few of the many that I recorded:

And it never failed that during the dry years the people forgot about the rich years and during the wet years they lost all memory of the dry years. It was always that way.
Narrator speaking of weather in Salinas Valley (p.6)

It was well known that Liza Hamilton and the Lord God held similar convictions on nearly every subject.
Narrator (p.178)

"You know, if chickens had government and church and history, they would take a distant and distasteful view of human joy. Let any gay and hopeful thing happen to a man, and some chicken goes howling to the block."
Samuel Hamilton remarking about the chickens being killed by Lee in celebration (p.258)

Every man has a retirement picture in which he does those things he never had time to do--makes the journeys, reads the neglected books he always pretended to have read. For many years the sheriff dreamed of spending the shining time hunting and fishing--wandering in the Santa Lucia range, camping by half-remembered streams. And now that it was almost time he knew he didn't want to do it. Sleeping on the ground would make his leg ache. He remembered how heavy a deer is and how hard it is to carry the dangling limp body from the place of the kill. And, frankly, he didn't care for venison anyway. Madame Reynaud could soak it in wine and lace it with spice but, hell, an old shoe would taste good with that treatment.
About Sheriff Quinn when he came to see Adam (p.559)

"When you're a child you're the center of everything. Everything happens for you. Other people? They're only ghosts furnished for you to talk to. But when you grow up you take your place and you're your own size and shape. Things go out of you to others and come in from other people. It's worse, but it's much better too."
Abra speaking to Cal about Aron (p.576)

Blog Post Section 3

When I read good books, I often write down words I read that I (1) couldn't use in a sentence of my own making or (2) like. Here are those words from East of Eden: abetted, acumen, alluvial, astringent, bacchanalianism, baleful, battens, bellicosity, bindlestiff, bollixed, brogue, bumptiousness, busby, caisson, chiseler, cloy, coagulate, codicils, concupiscence, convalescence, coquetry, dawdling, demure, derisively, dissemble, dour, doxology, efface, entrained, eructation, ferment, foppish, freshet, garrulousness, incipient, incontrovertible, indefatigable, inimical, inscrutable, intransigent, inviolate, latigo, litany, lucent, obsequious, opulence, palaver, panocha, pantomime, paragon, paregoric, perfidy, pique, plait, poultice, precocious, preternaturally, ptomaine, puling, querulous, quirt, rakishly, ribald, stultifying, surrey, swagger, swale, tarpaulins, toilet water, torpor, tractable, trestle, truculence, truculently, valise, and vulpine.

Please consider including at least one of the above words in a comment you make about this post.