I just finished reading East of Eden by John Steinbeck. I’m speechless and awestruck and bursting with emotion and thoughts. Yeah, I take my lit seriously. This book inherently has deep messages and insight as it is a modern retelling (circa 1952) of the Book of Genesis. The most important message being ‘timshel,’ the Hebrew expression from the bible thought to mean “thou shalt” is discovered to mean “thou mayest.” This is the choice that each of the characters face and grapple with throughout the book. No matter how deep-rooted one’s sin, there is always a choice and a chance for redemption. And what incredible characters. Every one, minor or major, is meticulously developed and viscerally tangible to you as the reader. You treasure all of them and are devastated when they’re gone. Even the evil ones.
Oh, and the writing is utterly, heartbreakingly beautiful.
I suppose I should mention that it took me nearly a year to finish the 600 plus page tome. Normally I am a fast reader, but I completely savored and cherished every word in this book. I didn’t want to plow through it because then it would be over. I must point out that I do not recommend reading the final pages in a public place (as I unfortunately did). I tend to take everything to heart and get a wee bit emotional when I read. If you’re like me, best to do it in the privacy of your own space or suffer the concerned and frightened looks of strangers. One of the best book endings ever.
For some reason, this book eluded me my whole life up until now. I read ‘Of Mice and Men’ in high school, but until recently, that was it. I’ve since discovered ‘Cannery Row’ and many of Steinbeck’s shorter works. I’m thoroughly devoted now and a straight up Steinbeck disciple. On deck: ‘Grapes of Wrath.’ Only 464 pages- should take about nine months.