East of Eden I read on and off for a good year between other activities but I had a good time. Definitely one of the longest stories I've read. The mass of character development, inner conflict/resolution and supporting character Samuel Hamilton's part in things really help to add weight on the time the story spans. With Adam Trask as a central character throughout, I find it near like a fictional biography even if the main focus gradually shifts to Caleb. The rather obvious symbolism to Cain and Abel and in turn the inevitable conclusion didn't feel like it had a huge anchor on the title, though it helps that the initial story of Adam and Charles sort of subverts what I would've expected. It's certainly a book that takes commitment and interest to get through and while like any door stopper I found myself waning at times, it was very much worth the journey.I need to check out The Winter of Our Discontent sometime. What are your thoughts on East of Eden and The Grapes of Wrath, if you've read those?
The Grapes of Wrath I am less favourable to. I'm not sure why. I think it was just the constant shift between the main story and what were nearly just ramblings at times. While it's not uncommon for Steinbeck, the ones present in this particular book are just really something else. Some if not all are quite clearly some commentary on the general events transpiring in America during the Great Depression and those struggling throughout. But some went a bit over my head and the zig-zag pacing just irked me overall. That being said the lead story was still relatively worthwhile, albeit even for Steinbeck the ending was rather odd, though quite obviously symbolic. So, I enjoyed East of Eden more.
Other than that I've also read The Wayward Bus, The Moon is Down, The Pastures of Heaven as I previously mentioned, and of course, Of Mice and Men which was required in Grade 10 English and kept my interest in Steinbeck since.
In my queue of sorts after The Long Valley and Winter of our Discontent is Tortilla Flat, Cannery Row, its apparent sequel Sweet Thursday, and maybe Travels with Charley.
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