Thursday, October 04, 2007

EAST OF EDEN by John Steinbeck

The Book: John Steinbeck, EAST OF EDEN. Bantam paperback reprint, 1976. Book is in poor condition, with front and back covers retaped to spine and pages brown with age; owner's name and previous address written in pen inside the front cover.
First read: 1984
Owned since: 1984

John Steinbeck ranks #10 on the list of authors whose books were banned or challenged between 1990 and 2004. Of Mice and Men is his most frequently challenged book, but East of Eden is my favorite.

If you've only seen the movie, you have only a small idea of the book; the movie's plot is only the last third or so of the book. East of Eden is a sweeping historical epic, the kind almost no one is writing anymore. It tells the parallel stories of the Trask family, Steinbeck's own Hamilton family, and the integration of California with the rest of the country. It is a story of brothers, fathers and sons, the damage families do to each other and the harm we do to ourselves, and the constant hope that comes from our own free will.

I have read my copy of this book literally to pieces. I've taped the cover together twice, and it's falling apart once again; the cheap paperback pages are brown and starting to crumble.

I need a new copy, but I'm reluctant to let this one go. I bought it used at Second Story Books in the summer of 1984, and read it and reread it at a time when the world didn't make much sense to me. The address written inside the front cover belongs to a house I only lived in for a year, and if I didn't have the address written here I'm not sure I'd remember the house number.

This book feels like an artifact of my own life, and even when I do buy a new copy, I'll probably hang on to this one.

Home again, after a very, very, VERY long travel day yesterday. Feeling a little desperate and hunted by everything I have to do today. The penalties of travel...

Five Random Songs

"Be My Yoko Ono," Barenaked Ladies. A silly, bouncy love song. "You can be my Yoko Ono/You can follow me wherever I go..."

"She Said She Said," The Beatles. Sometimes I wonder how random the "shuffle" function is. How weird is it to get a Beatles song right after "Be My Yoko Ono"? Supposedly, this song was written after a party at which Peter Fonda, under the influence, kept saying, "I know what it's like to be dead."

"Forever Young," Chris Isaak. An uncharacteristically upbeat song off Heart-Shaped World.

"Vancouver," Violent Femmes. 2:14 of dissonance, without any words.

"That's It," Buddy Guy. Another instrumental, from The Complete Chess Studio Recordings.

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