John Steinbeck & East of Eden

East of Eden                 Eden letters  

If you talked to me at all in January, you have heard about these two books. They were both, fascinating and beautiful. I read them alongside one another. Each day, as Steinbeck sat down to write his greatest novel, he got warmed up by writing a letter to his long-time friend and editor, Pascal Covici. If you disagree it is his greatest novel, you will have to take it up with him, for he believed this to be the crowning achievement of his career; the book he was born to write. I let the two keep pace with each other, reading the story while simultaneously reading about the writing of it, which as a writer, was extremely edifying.

The slow, leisurely pace and depth of character moved East of Eden from a good story to a beautiful rendering of human life. Some have argued that the book is not enjoyable for the tragedy within it. It is true that the tragedies of this story are not beautiful; they are familiar. It’s themes are as old as the Fall. I found pieces of myself in nearly every character. There is one as ugly and dark as Satan, and she is difficult to read, ever more so as we share a name, but she is real, and therefore needs to be endured. As for me, I loved the book and consider it one of the greatest I have ever read or likely will ever read. Far from feeling despair, I closed this epic drama with great hope. You may as well.

 

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