Thursday, August 4, 2011

the land of nod

I have been reading East of Eden for the little book group that our friend Gloria started this summer. First we read Life of Pi which was her pick. Braed picked up a beautiful hardback copy on sale at the university bookstore a while back and it had just been sitting on our shelf waiting to be enjoyed. It was great! It's one of those books that people seem to mention a lot but I had never read, so I was glad to finally have a reason to read it.

I read East of Eden for the first time last summer after seeing it quoted on a blog that I found linked on a friend of a friend of a friend's blog. You know, normal things. Surprising no one, I have not been able to find that original post. I do, however, still have my notebook I made while helping Esther teach a bookbinding class on Long Island that is filled with some beautiful quotations that jumped out at me during that first read. This second time through I've been more focused on plot, symbolism, character development, etc for our book group discussion, but for today I'll pleasure you with some of John Steinbeck's beautiful prose. If you haven't read this book already, I hope that this might inspire you to pick it up someday soon. But if my own words don't convince you, maybe John Steinbeck's will:
Before the inland sea the valley must have been a forest. And those things happened right under our feet. And it seemed to me that sometimes at night I could feel both the sea and the redwood forest before it.
 They called him a comical genius and carried his stories carefully home, and they wondered at how the stories spilled out on the way, for they never sounded the same repeated in their own kitchens.
 'The American Standard translation orders men to triumph over sin, and you can call sin ignorance. The King James translation makes a promise in "Thou shalt," meaning that men will surely triumph over sin. But the Hebrew word, the word timshel—"Thou mayest"—that gives a choice. It might be the most important word in the world. It says the way is open. That throws it right back on a man. For if "Thou mayest"—it is also true that "Thou mayest not." Don't you see?' (Genesis 4:1-16)

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