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Sunday, April 26, 2009

The Grapes of Wrath by John Steinbeck~★★★

Author: John Steinbeck
Title: The Grapes of Wrath
Release Date: Originally 1939; This copy is from 1992
Publisher: Originally by Viking Press; This is from Penguin Books
Genre: Fiction

Book Cover (From introduction by Robert DeMott): "The Grapes of Wrath summed up its era in a way that Uncle Tom's Cabin had summed up the years of slavery before the Civil War. At once naturalistic epic, captivity narrative, road novel, and transcendental gospel, Steinbeck's fictional chronicle of the Dust Bowl migration of the 1930s is perhaps the most American of American classics.
Although it follows the movement of thousandsof men and women and the transfomation of an entire nation, The Grapes of Wrath is also the story of one Oklahoma farm family, the Joads, who are driven off their homestead and forced to travel west to the promised land of California. Out of their trials and their repeated collisions against the hard realities of an America divided into Haves and Have-Nots, Steinbeck created a drama that is intensely human yet majestic in its scale and moral vision, elemental yet plainspoken, tragic but ultimately stirring in its insistence on human dignity.

Taryn's Review: I hate when I'm not blown away by a "classic" book. This book had parts that I truly loved, but it also had parts that I hated. I loved how Steinbeck was able to capture the verbal accent of the people through the writing. When the story was focused on the Joad family, my attention was fully on them and their dire situation. Steinbeck was amazing in the sense that you start to feel as if you were part of the group and when difficulties arose, your heart jumped with the question of "What will happen to us now?"

I read the introduction of the book and Robert DeMott talked about how in some chapters Steinbeck had a "narrative voice" for the readers that the Joads obviously wouldn't have been aware of. I really hated those chapters. In fact, near the end, I just skipped them. I wanted to know about the Joads and feel the shocks in the same realm that they did. I didn't want to know secrets.

Steinbeck also had a lot of description in the book. I understand that in 1939 most people may not have seen many of the landscapes that the Joads encountered. The descriptions were probably very helpful for people in 1939. In 2009, we have the technological advances to Google whatever pictures we desire to view and we see various locations in the medias that constantly take us to different parts of the world. Therefore, the descriptions can become tiresome for the modern reader. I  skimmed them much more than I than read them. Some people today might love this aspect, I'm just not one of them.

It's a book I would still recommend to anyone to read. It highlighted some of the ugly times that Americans of the past have suffered through and those hard times are precisely those that Americans of the present know little about and after all, it is considered an American classic!

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