Monday, April 8, 2013

Reading: East of Eden by John Steinbeck

East of Eden was an unexpected read for me.  I had every intention of reading another book but after seeing a certain quote from this book, I immediately decided it would be in my best interests to read it now.  The quote I am speaking of is this, "And now that you don't have to be perfect, you can be good."  I felt I needed to read this book to understand the entire focus of what that sentence meant to the story in which it came from and hoped that after reading this novel it would guide me a bit with my own writing.
The title East of Eden is an obvious hint at the garden of Eden which is featured in the most popular book in the world, the Bible.  In the Bible, Eden is the garden which God creates in the beginning where Adam and Eve reside.  It is a paradise where there exists no sin or evil but just happiness.  When Adam and Eve are tempted by the sinful serpent to eat the fruit from the tree of knowledge of good and evil, their hearts are filled with sin as are the rest of the hearts of those to come for the rest of eternity.  They are then banished from the garden of Eden which is often referred to as east of Eden, hence the title of this book.  Steinbeck's novel is a modern retelling of the biblical beginnings tale in which sin already exists instead of their being no sin at all.  The title references humans separation from God, that when sin entered the world man and woman were forced to leave the garden and live east of Eden.
This book was absolutely nothing like I expected it to be.  It was extremely dark at times and extremely poetic at other times.  I honestly feel like I didn't do the book justice by just reading it one time because it is so in depth with literary content that it needs to be read three or four times in my opinion.  That being said, would I read this book again?  I'm not really sure I would.  On a personal level, my reading experience wasn't quite what I wanted it to be.  I essentially forced myself to get through this novel.  It was not only a difficult read but a slow read and therefore I tried to read it with every breath of air I took.  I wanted to finish it so I could move on and focus on my books for school, other books I wanted to read, and on books I wanted to write myself.  The novel was very rich with content and characters and good old fashioned story telling but I felt like my reading experience of the book wasn't very good while I also feel this book needs to be read a few times to really be appreciated.  I want to say more in this review but I'm pretty sure my brain was fried by the time I finished reading the book and already I have a hard time remembering detail for detail like I usually do.  Overall, I will give this book 3 out of 5 stars.  I know it is a classic and I want to appreciate it but I guess the whole experience of reading it was just not a good one for me.  Maybe I will read it again in a few years.

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