So, I've always avoided reading "The Grapes of Wrath" because I had heard from so many different people that it's just a long, dull, depressing book. It's a pretty big book to waste time on if it's just going to suck, you know. My wife finally talked me into reading it. You know what? This is a fantastic book. Man, I've been missing out. Everybody who has been talking crap on it is just straight up wrong.
And it's some evidence that hooks might not be quite as important as we always think they are here. For the first 50-100 pages or so I actually wasn't sold on the book, but now I'm in love with it. Definitely not a "hook you from the beginning" type of book, but still great.
I was the opposite. I enjoyed the first two-thirds of that book immensely; after Of Mice and Men, I knew that Steinbeck had talent, so I trusted him enough for the writing to be good. And he did have a gift for prose.
But something happened somewhere through it. I'm not sure exactly where this occurred, but I stopped caring. It was one thing after another, and since it all piled so heavy I could already predict how the story was going to end. So I emotionally disconnected from the story. (This is where I draw the line between tragedy and plain old depressing: with tragedy, I still care what has happened; with depression, I think, so what?)
Beyond that, there were only a handful of characters I felt truly sympathetic towards, and half of those were in the interlude chapters. I cared more about the tortoise than I did the pregnant girl. There's a problem there. In the end, the only MC I cared about was Ma Joad, as she faced everything that came her way with steadfastness. Tom couldn't control himself and killed again, Jim Casy had too wretched a past for me to like him, and Rose of Sharon didn't become interesting until the end of the story, and by that point I'd already stopped caring.
Made me want to reread Of Mice and Men or The Crucible, where at least the struggles and sorrow mattered.
I just fniished reading Hemmingway's THE SUN ALSO RISES.
I'm sorry, but HOW did that become literature? All it seemed to be was a collection of a few people with more time and money than sense sitting around various bars getting drunk and insulting or slighting one another. The description of the fiesta and bull fight was interesting background, but I didn't see anything get resolved. Cohn was still a jerk at the end. Lady Brett hadn't changed. Did anybody change? I don't think so. The narrator certainly didn't.
Give me genre lit any day, compared to that. I checked it out of the library, thank heavens. I also have his A FAREWELL TO ARMS on loan from the library. I'll read that and, if it's not any better, I'm giving up on Hemmingway.
Please don't judge all "literary lit" by Hemingway. I agree that his books suck. I do not like his writing one bit. Some people see a lot in him, but I don't. Vagueness does not equal great literature, in my book (or in his).
There are some legitimate great ones out there, though. Hemingway just isn't it. From my experience, only English professors tend to like him (and my wife, which I can't figure out). I think they're probably just pretending to like him so they can fit in with the other professors.
Hemingway's The Sun Also Rises was something of a breakthrough in literary subject matter at the time---nothing like that had ever been published in a major way, or so it seemed. It was Hemingway's first major publication.
Also it was among the first to use Certain Familiar Words.
I had to read A FAREWELL TO ARMS in high school and I hated the way Hemingway portrayed female characters. I decided that he was much better at writing short stories than he was at writing novels. His kind of writing just couldn't sustain itself for novel-length works.
Haven't read GRAPES OF WRATH, but I'm not a big fan of any of that particular era of American fiction. They were way to big on "naturalism" or "realism" or ugliness (my term, though I like "depression") in life. Give me a sense of humor like Mark Twain's any day.
Oh! Almost forgot--did you all know that Steinbeck wrote fantasy (more or less), too? He wrote a book about King Arthur that he titled THE ACTS OF KING ARTHUR AND HIS NOBLE KNIGHTS. If I ever read GRAPES OF WRATH, I guess I'll have to read that, too.
I haven't read "The Grapes of Wrath" (I've seen the movie)...but I did read Steinbeck's Arthurian work when it came out in the late seventies. (It wasn't published in his lifetime.) I can't say I remember much about it, except what was also in Malory...and if I recall right, it was written something like Malory, too...
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I loved "Flowers for Algernon." I hated--HATED--"Of Mice and Men." It's not that it was poorly written. It was, in fact, very well-written, but I felt very bad after I read it. I don't like to feel bad.
Maybe it was just too much depression reading it right on the heels of "The Grapes of Wrath."