I'd always assumed that Steinbeck was an overly sentimental and moralizing author who would annoy me with rotten cliches about the value of every huma...moreI'd always assumed that Steinbeck was an overly sentimental and moralizing author who would annoy me with rotten cliches about the value of every human being and simple rural life while emphasizing romantic and simple tragedy in a way that tread perilously close kitsch. Turns out I was wrong. Not that he's totally unlike the writer I imagined, but it was a caricature that, if I'd really thought about it, I should have realized couldn't be true. It's not the first time and (sadly) won't be the last time that I've taken an exaggerated dislike to something just because it's popular.
The book itself? The characters are (mostly) well drawn, the stories interesting, the setting well realized. Most of the stories seem to turn on the notion that, ultimately, we all live alone with our various needs, desires, and fears. When people try to intervene in the lives of their neighbors it often goes sour, through a lack of understanding or a conflation of their neighbors needs with their own. Family is paramount and there are a couple of examples where the bond between husband and wife transcends the general limitation on humanity's ability to know and support one another. Interesting, the bonds between parents and children seem much looser. There are a few times where I felt it was all being laid on just a tad thick.
The description of small scale agriculture is lovely and sentimental and I can't help but think that it would have been particularly potent for my parents and others (many of my parents' age) who are one generation removed from the land. I wonder how much this contributed to Steinbeck's popularity in the 20th century and how it will change in the years to come as fewer and fewer people have recent family, or youthful personal, experience with life on a small farm.(less)
I guess I was expecting something different, or maybe something more, from this. The prose is a bit purple, horror a little staid, and the stories tel...moreI guess I was expecting something different, or maybe something more, from this. The prose is a bit purple, horror a little staid, and the stories telegraph their endings so clearly that it's hard to remain in suspense. That being said, it's impressive how many horror movie genre conventions and tropes are on display here. Lovecraft truly was a pioneer and deserves to be remembered for that alone. Lovecraft's own personality comes through in ways that can be both interesting (his obsession w/ New England's social and architectural history) and unpleasant (the racism). Oh yeah, this edition is crammed with way, way, way too many footnotes.(less)
Murakami's talents are well suited to the short story format. For the most part his work captures a profound but also gentle dislocation that I find q...moreMurakami's talents are well suited to the short story format. For the most part his work captures a profound but also gentle dislocation that I find quite comforting. There is, however, real terror lurking behind much of the quirkiness.(less)