rating: 5 of 5 stars
So, whenever people asked me to pick a favorite book, a common question as both an English teacher and an author, I usually dodged it as best I could. Asking me to pick a favorite book is like asking me to pick a favorite pair of shoes. I just can't; I love them all too much. However, when pressed I would usually say East of Eden, even though I hadn't read it since high school, which has been, we'll just say a while. So, I decided to re-read this classic novel to see if it still held such a special place in my heart. I have to say, it does. Maybe not number one any more, but at least tied or possibly number two.
East of Eden can really only be described as sweeping. The novel follows Adam Trask most closely, from his childhood to old age, though all of the people who have an affect on his life: his brother, wife, neighbor and sons, are all developed fully as characters. Trask, after growing up angry and afraid of both his father and brother, is forced to join the Army and upon release takes his inherited fortune and moves to the Salinas Valley. With the support of his servant, Lee, and his prophetic neighbor Sam Hamilton, Trask survives being left by his wife (who sets up a whorehouse in a nearby town) and raises his twin boys.
This isn't a plot driven book. So, if you are looking for a thrilling page turner, keep on moving. However, East of Eden is like sitting down to a grand eight course dinner. The descriptions are fantastically detailed and the pacing slow. This is a book to be savored and enjoyed. The writing is both literary, lyrical and accessible and the plot and theme well carried out. There's a reason this book is a classic that has stood the test of time- it's beautiful. If you haven't read this book... do it now, and savor it like you would a really fine cut of steak- or tofu or whatever.
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