This is a beautifully written and insightful book which chronicles the intertwining lives of two California land owning families from opposite ends of...moreThis is a beautifully written and insightful book which chronicles the intertwining lives of two California land owning families from opposite ends of the economic scale. It follows the Trasks & Hamiltons through several decades as the successive generations of each clan grapple with their own personal strengths and frailties, allowing the authour to explore the nature of concepts such good and evil, success and failure and love and hate.
I did have a few small problems with the story. The first being that I initally felt it was laying the Biblical allusions on a bit thick, so much so in fact that for a while there I kept expecting a charachter called Todd Albrighty to turn up on the next page. However as the plot moves on and the characters develop this becomes less noticible. The second issue is that this is a long book, with several heavy philosphical ideas woven into long involved discussion and so occasionally, just occasionally, I found myself thinking 'Man, I wish someone would hurry up and invent the television already.' Mind you this is probably just a reflection on my poor attention span rather than any failing of the book. The last thing that annoyed me slightly is that while the Trask families plot is drawn to some sort of conclusion, the remaining Hamilton family are just sort of abandoned towards the end.
East of Eden's main strength I think is in the rendering of it's charachters; the good and particularly the evil who are genuinely chilling at times. Most importantly Steinbeck excels in realistically portraying the mix of both wich exist in most of us. (less)
This thing is basically 'The Wire' in togas. It has much of the complex plotting, political positioning, warring and double crossing of that show, wit...moreThis thing is basically 'The Wire' in togas. It has much of the complex plotting, political positioning, warring and double crossing of that show, with a bit of incest and poisoning thrown in for good measure. A lot of poisoning actually. If the amount of poisoning in this book is at all historically accurate, then the Romans must have experienced the same abject terror sitting down to every meal, which we in modern life are thankfully now only exposed to when faced with no option but to use a KFC drive-thru.
Some of the story is a little dry, but more often than not the narrator admits that himself and moves on. Also all the us-es can be confusing to keep track of; himus married herus and gave birth to thisus or thatus but also adopted whatshisfaceus who her son by another guyus (actually that really is one.) It's worth stickin with it I think, just for Caligula who is one of histories great, terrible and I'm ashamed to say, occasionally pretty funny fruit loops. Think Charlie Sheen post meltdown, times a billion, elected President. (less)
A morbidly fascinating real life case, rather loosely interpreted here. It picks up towards the end but takes an absolute age to get going and the mai...moreA morbidly fascinating real life case, rather loosely interpreted here. It picks up towards the end but takes an absolute age to get going and the main problem with this book (in my 'umble opinion you understand) is the ridiculously one dimensional, stereotypical charicatures which inhabit it, who all border on the cartoonish. Not in the funny Simpsons way either, in a slightly boring Garfield sort of way. It's as if every single character's traits, actions and motivations have come straight from the imagination of a not terribly subtle 13 year old boy; a 13 year old boy by the way, whose parents need to have a look under their son's bed or maybe in the back of his cupboard and then sit him down for a very serious chat.(less)