John Steinbeck is far from my favorite author or writer, but he is one of my favorite story tellers.
Knowing that I wrote more than one 'report' or seJohn Steinbeck is far from my favorite author or writer, but he is one of my favorite story tellers.
Knowing that I wrote more than one 'report' or serious paper in school about Steinbeck works, to repeat in a typical review what others have contributed before and since is not what I want to do in this brief commentary.
Steinbeck is becoming dated in many ways that I had not real thought of until of late. The timeless content that partially earned him great accolades has for now begun to be nostalgic.
These glimpses or moments in time in J.S. works combined with the writing that many found to be so worthy is much of what elevated him to the pinnacle of American fiction writing. Yet never being a fan of his prose style I was none-the-less captured by the stories. East of Eden, Cannery Row, and Tortilla Flat to name three great stories if not his greatest works all tell American Stories in a unique and captivating way. The more than impressive film catalog that were drawn directly from his stories and his direct contribution as a screenwriter (Academy Award nomination even!) adds to the impressive Steinbeck contribution in American literature. Yet . . .
The stories are great but of an era. Is their a better tale of the twentieth century formative hardship of the new American than Grapes of Wrath? If so what? But I am not a 'fan' of the work. The story though is timeless and truly American if western centric. The Pearl is one of his great human stories, but buried under a lot mechanisms of the period and place setting his chooses or knows to use. The California background of his life colors all his work mechanically and in that lies a frozen moment in American and Literary history that leads to my current feelings that his work are now becoming very nostalgic.
So what is more nostalgic than a story about an aging man and his dog trekking for what may be the last time? What is more American than doing it cross country in the mid 20th century United States at the perhaps the height of the 'Car Culture'? Nothing. This is a tale of rediscovery,revelation, and revulsion. Steinbeck really has lost none of his powers in what would be one of his final major works before his death thousands of miles from home. Though the trip with the poodle of the universal dog name occurred about a decade prior to his death, it is a fitting last bookend to his body of work. His last years are another story and his travels with Charley reveal an America that Steinbeck almost doesn't know. He finds revelation and some redemption in the final wilderness areas of the lower 48 in his search for solace from the homogenization of America in things not worthy of a great nation. Another captivating and important story from Steinbeck. Maybe one of the greatest travelogues ever written can be found in Travels with Charley is what warrants the 5 stars.
Finally a note or two concerning what got me thinking about this work. Yes, off and on I've been indulging in 'dog literature'. That has, along with a few friends who've been looking for suggestions of quality dog stories, been a reason that this work has popped up again. There is also in the nostalgic and historic prescient elements of Steinbeck and other giants of American Letters a curiosity of who will inherit that mantle in the now early 21st Century.
I sat up way too late the past two evenings reading this cover to cover. Then I needed to return it to its owner. Now I have an e-version loaded and aI sat up way too late the past two evenings reading this cover to cover. Then I needed to return it to its owner. Now I have an e-version loaded and am pouring through it again.
The first impression that I have of this book beyond it is an extremely well written work, is that the author may have made a major historical contribution in correcting much of the mythic and legendary stories surrounding Malcolm X and his role in the Civil Rights era.
Two general areas jump out in my marathon reading, Malcolm's personal history and flaws from the 'Autobiography' by Alex Haley. The later has come under repeated fire for several years and the prior is known to have been mythologized to the point of being fiction.
There is some paranoiac prose in places, or so my brain responded in my post midnight musings. Thus I know I need to read several chapters again in a more controlled and less frenzied state.
Yes I was very captivated by the book on first impression. It is an important enough topic and chapter in history however that it deserves a more disciplined read now. I am quite certain that it will rise above my initial cautious rating and I know I will comment further as Malcolm X has always fascinated me at many levels.
I started a discussion in the African American Books group to elicit feedback from other readers that are not just my 'friends'....more