Once when I was a young man sometime around the discovery of the West Indies, I was lying around in bed one day (my favorite pastime) and thinking about all the stuff they told me I HAD to do when I was in high school which for the very reason I was told that I had to do it, I made a dedicated effort NOT to do it.
Not really . . . I didn’t do the stuff I HAD to do because I was only interested in doing what I wanted to do, which was primarily smoke pot and be in school plays. At these two things I was very good owing to lots and lots of practice. At the stuff I was told I had to do, I was only average and did only what was necessary to graduate with a C average.
Reading was a big thing to them, and oddly enough it was something I liked doing, but not for others. As I was lying around after high school contemplating these things I thought,
HEY! The things they told me to read were supposed to be some pretty good things. Since I like to read, what would it hurt to give them a try NOW that it is no longer ‘required?’
Indeed! Why not? I drove down to the Mall and to Walden Books and headed into the Classics section. I sampled one or two from three or four different authors, including John Steinbeck. I fell in love with John Steinbeck. Of course, I mean his work.
I ended up reading ALL his short works. My favorites were Cannery Row, Of Mice and Men, and Tortilla Flats. I dipped into Grapes of Wrath, but, in those days, I was a dedicated audience member of Short-Attention-Span Theater and put it down.
I picked up Grapes of Wrath again 2 years ago and my mind was blown. It was phenomenal. Wow! I immediately went out and picked up a copy of East of Eden. Unbelievable! Maybe it was best I didn’t read this stuff until I was an old man. Back when I first discovered Steinbeck, I don’t think I could have appreciated, let alone comprehended his longer works. He is now my literary God.
East of Eden, not only blew my mind, it knocked it out of its socket! I highly recommend it for anyone with half a brain and a whole heart. It is no murder mystery. It is no Stephen King Horror tale. It is no action packed, sex filled piece of pulp. It will make you think and feel. It will make you question the morality of others and maybe most especially your own moral and ethical reasoning and feelings.