A word on Steinbeck: I love him (much more than Hemingway). I know the two aren’t to be had in conversation together, but I’m doing it anyway–all white male authors are in conversation, imo. There is something about Steinbeck that isn’t minimal, but perfect.
I remember my little sister reading this book in high school and I kept telling myself that I would get around to it when I had the chance. Ten years later, I finally picked it up. It’s important to state the obvious–I could not have written this book. In a million years. This book quaked with the weight of its own greatness. Never have I ever been invested into a story so deeply that it took me herculean strength and patience to be dropped into another midstream. So I read, and read, and was captivated until around page 540 (again, amazing).
Structurally, the book began to falter from its own dedication to be written alongside the bible, and myth, and to say something deeply about men and their fathers. I liked Cal’s redemption story, and him not being only one thing (though the women were just that). The book finally faltered because of Steinbeck’s obligation to truth, and what is right, and good, rather than by abiding by the laws of fiction.
I actually admired the hell out of the that choice. It’s not a popular one today–to stick by your guns and your personal philosophy/morals vs. what will sell. Though this book required a slight recasting, I still thought it was masterful, though not my favorite Steinbeck. Next on my list: Grapes of Wrath.