Context: Finished this off as we packed up to head away for a holiday over Easter weekend.
Steinbeck establishes himself, in my mind, as the USAnian Orwell with this novel chronicalling the desperate plight of the landless poor during the years of the Great Depression. From the word go, the language of the novel is poignantly melancholic, tinged with feeling as if the very words bore the weight of their suffering. It will live in my memory as one of my favourite novels.
The book is haunting from start to finish. What I appreciated most of all were the little vignettes of life at the time that Steinbeck scatters between the narrative chapters.
These are so memorable, they stand out almost as classics in their own right. There’s the turtle, the diner, the migrant camps. Each of these is beautifully crafted.
Wonderful, wonderful stuff.
To the red country and part of the gray country of Oklahoma, the last rains came gently, and they did not cut the scarred earth.
She looked up and across the barn, and her lips came together and she smiled mysteriously.
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