East of Eden

Thoughts eoebyjs by John Steinbeck, Penguin Books 2002 (orig 1952), 601 pages, Tradeback AND Audiobook (narrated by Richard Poe, 25’28”)

So GOOD. Amazing work of fiction. Thank you Estella for suggesting I read along! EastofEdenReadalong-1024x1024

Page 255 – “What is there to understand? Just read it. If the Lord God wanted you to understand it He’d have given you to understand or He’d have set it down different.” (Amen Liz!)

Five slices of pie.

Five juicy perfectly-pastried slices of plum pie. With home-made vanilla ice cream from a hand-crank ice cream maker. Why plum? because something about this book reminds me of sandhill plums. I couldn’t find any reference to the possibility of these kinds of plums being found in Salinas Valley CA but who cares. I apparently found (or recorded) only one reference to pie in this amazing work of fiction. (TSBOOToTaOBtRBYDB!)

Page 494 – “I am so cowardly. I will not put my finger in any human pie.” (Lee – one of the BEST characters EVER. Samuel is close second.)


Page 509 – “That smart little son of a bitch – wrong word – must not call him that.” (Cathy – one of the most despicable characters EVER. Just whoa.)

If you like epics and stories of good versus evil with some startlingly clear and wise statements about humanity that don’t beat you on the head but just suggest, then you will appreciate this story. It has everything and Steinbeck achieves this masterfully.

Thoroughly enjoyable on all of my what-I-love-about-fiction buttons.

NOT intimidating. In fact, I am not sure what symbols I missed. Steinbeck LOVES his symbolism, doesn’t he? Oh well.

What I love about reading, especially with historical glimpses into the human condition, is that I get to realize that times have always been NUTS, people have always had its crazies and its wonders, and NOW isn’t anything special or more crazy worse or whatever. Olden days weren’t nicer or better or anything. Life is messy. And we’ve been on this path for a long, long time.

Page 494 – “Laughter comes later, like wisdom teeth, and laughter at yourself comes last of all in a mad race with death,…”

TSBOOToTaOBtRBYDB = This Should Be One of the One Thousand and One Books to Read Before You Die Books.

BEST WORDS EVER!  “Bumptiousness” – page 215


I still have no interest in reading The Grapes of Wrath even though it won the Pulitzer. You can’t make me.

But I’ll agree to think about it.


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20 thoughts on “East of Eden

  1. I loved EoE! Since reading it years ago I’ve also reread The Pearl and Cannery Row (much shorter books). I love the sense of place in his novels.

  2. Heather

    What an incredible book. One that I feel I’ll have to read again someday to fully appreciate. So glad you enjoyed it and read it with us!

  3. I’m too lazy to sift through 600 pages to find it but what about when Lee was making all of those tarts. Didn’t Abra come over and help him a bit? It was around the time when he said she was like his daughter. Anyway, I thought tart = pie = CarePie. 🙂

    Yes, absolutely should be on the 1001 list. Actually, I think I might have gone ahead and included it on my tally anyway.

    1. I gave you the page number?! Anyway, it was that human pie quote (see above) which is a little different than tarts. 😉
      But I do know and appreciate your thoughts.

    1. And you might THINK that with GRAPES in the title it would be super fabulous – especially cuz I really like Grape Pie. East of Eden is amazing.

  4. Karen K.

    I never OD’d on Steinbeck in high school; in fact, I think I am the only person I know that never read a single one of his books (I went to a crappy high school; the one decent English teacher taught World Lit; hence, no Steinbeck, just Dante, Voltaire, and Shakespeare). I was terrified by Steinbeck’s reputation but I gave him a try a few years ago when an online group chose Travels with Charley, which I LOVED. It gave me the courage to try The Grapes of Wrath which I also loved, though I’m still not sold by Of Mice and Men or The Red Pony.

    Cannery Row is hilarious, and I also really enjoyed The Moon is Down and The Winter of Our Discontent. And I did read East of Eden a couple of years ago. I really enjoyed it, with a few quibbles. Overall, a great book. Cathy is one of the most horrible creations in all of literature. She is evil incarnate.

    Anyway, glad you loved it and I highly recommend trying more Steinbeck.

  5. litandlife

    So who cares if you missed symbolism as long as you loved the book and got a lot out of it? I swear next year may just have to be my “year of the chunksters” so that I can make time for great books like this. Think anyone will notice if I only post one book review a month?

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