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EAST OF EDEN by John Steinbeck

East of Eden has to be one of my favourite books.  I am a John Steinbeck fan, almost in spite of myself.  Descriptive writing about the Salinas Valley in California is not my cup of tea, but  in the hands of Steinbeck it’s different.  He is a master of combining the poetic, plot, and character development.  Each of these elements are perfectly balanced in East of Eden, and any one of them draws me back in page after page.

The book is a saga of good and evil that spans three generations.  There are many allusions to the Biblical story of Cain and Abel, but that’s not crucial to appreciating the novel.  Here’s one of my favourite quotes:  “I believe there are monsters born in the world to human parents.  Some you can see, misshapen and horrible with huge heads or tiny bodies…And just as there are physical monsters, can there not be mental or psychic monsters born?  The face and body may be perfect, but if a twisted gene or malformed egg can produce physical monsters, may not the sam process produce a malformed soul?

Long before Oprah recommended this book to her viewers, Steinbeck was recognized for his superior writing and awarded the Nobel prize for literature.  A quote from the Nobel prize website (www.nobelprize.org):  ”“The Nobel Prize in Literature 1962 was awarded to John Steinbeck “for his realistic and imaginative writings, combining as they do sympathetic humour and keen social perception”".  Well, I think that sums it up nicely!

If you are looking for a book that is deep and moving (but not boring,) look no further.

Please share your thoughts here!


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