(Do I even have to say it?) Spoilers
It always takes me a few chapters to get used to older books. It takes a while to remember it used to be perfectly acceptable to suck super hard. And I’m too Thoroughly Modern Millie for that mess, so I‘m reading like:
I’m good once I get to the elongated ‘wow’; nothing shocks me after that.
Because I know you’re wondering, he used the ‘n’ word as an adverb.
“He’s not ‘n-wordly’ with his money.”
What does that even mean??
The story spans two generations, from the civil war to the first world war.
The main character is Adam Trask, in addition to following his entire life, we get back stories on the Hamilton family, which I felt was holy unnecessary, like, TBH, I really don’t understand why all the information about them. The Trasks and Kathy are the only ones anyone even pays attention too. And we also get a backstory on Kathy, Adam’s wife.
Before I go any further, I just want to say, I love the movie with James Dean. And I was really disappointed with Cal and Aron’s storyline, which was in all essence, a rehashing of Cain and Abel.
But really, there are only two characters that are awful enough to make into the actual review:
Kathy and Lee.
And I have nothing to say about the Hamilton’s because seriously, they were tertiary characters at best.
We’ll start with Lee, because what I have to say about him is quick:
Seriously Steinbeck? A Chinese man who is MILES smarter than everyone else, speaks English without an accent would prefer to hide all of this because he doesn’t want to make white people uncomfortable?
AND, he would rather work as a house servant than achieve his dream of owning a bookstore in San Francisco. Even when giving all the opportunity and money he could possibly need to do so?
Now on to Kathy,
Kathy is evil incarnate. Two female characters in the entire goddamned book, one was a vapid, substance-lacking plot device (Abra) and the other (Kathy), evil incarnate.
Books like this really make me grateful for being alive now. We really have come a long way. Don’t get me wrong we still have work to do, but fuck me dudes used to hate woman. HATE THEM.
So Kathy, is an evil sociopath who learns at a very young age that she can use sex to get what she wants out of people. But here’s the thing, she uses “the promise of sex” and never actually follows through. I was like
“Girl, this is the 1800’s, you can’t be acting like that, you’re gonna get your ass bea… oh there you go.”
She’s beaten to a pulp and left on Adam Trask’s porch, which is how they first meet each other.
Before the beating, Kathy just like spent her entire life fucking people over and once she recovers from the beaten, she goes right back to fucking people over. You get used to it because she’s a sociopath with no love for anyone and up until a certain point she only ever hurt people that had the potential to stop her from getting what she wanted. And those occurrences made sense for the character.
When she hurt her parents, it made sense.
When she hurt the guy that beat her, it made sense.
When she hurt Adam, it made sense.
When she hurt Faye, it did not make sense.
Even though I knew to expect it from her, I was really bothered but how she treated Faye. Everyone else put expectations on Kathy she didn’t want. Faye didn’t. Faye was perfectly fine accepting Kathy exactly as she was, so I just really didn’t like what happened there.
And then at the end, the way she handled everything with Aron was so out of character for her, and I felt like she as a character was fundamentally changed to further drive the Cain and Abel parallel with Cal and Aron. So that was bullshit too.
As the book moves into to Part Two
There’s this little quip about:
“This country isn’t what it used to be. Virtue and sweetness, woman are sluts now it’s so gross, and you can’t own blacks anymore I mean what even is the point, wah, wah (all going into 1900 mind you).”
I can now sleep better at night knowing, old people have been the same for forever. Please God, if you’re gonna make me old, don’t make me like this.
Omg this is a direct quote
“Women’s thighs have lost their clutch.”
That is the grossest way I have ever heard anyone call all of womankind a slut.
Et Tu Steinbeck? (this is also part of the transition to part two speech)
Abraham Lincoln is quoted as saying
“America will never be destroyed from the outside. If we falter and lose our freedoms it will be because we destroyed ourselves.”
(I know he was psychic. Mind = Blown)
Also, the historian in me wants you to know, that’s not a direct quote it’s a summation of an address he gave but I digress.
Russia accepted that challenge and sent Ayn Rand over here so that she could write many a required text for the “How to be a Republican Politician 101” prerequisite course.
I was not aware that Rand and Steinbeck were co-cahooters in the plot to make America selfish again:
“Any society that puts the group before the individual is doomed to fail” or something.
That’s literally the point of society, Steinbeck! Move to a friggin’ cave if that’s how you want to be!
I really wasn’t all that affected by this book, my final thought on it Steinbeck claims this is his ‘Magnum Opus’. Yeah. The book tries to hard I’ll give him that.
You can tell he wanted this to be the great American novel, and it reads like that was his aim as opposed to writing a great story.
Overall Grade: C
The movie is better.