John Steinbeck and life

Do you take pride in your hurt? Does it make you seem large and tragic? …Well, think about it. Maybe you’re playing a part on a great stage with only yourself as audience.”― John Steinbeck, East of Eden

The book resonates with me in a most frightening way. East of Eden by John Steinbeck. I left Steinbeck years ago, having read almost all of his books by the time I entered college, or so I seem to think, maybe some were read later.

I have trouble rereading books and rarely do. This is an exception. I am rereading via an audiobook and I am loving it. I remembered so little. I only remembered that I loved it. A young friend of mine reveled in the philosophy of the books and I needed to rediscover it. He was absolutely right.

Only today, as I did my almost three mile walk in the freezing 50 degree weather (freezing to me as it was recently quite warm), I heard more than one profound piece of information from a book that is as fascinating as it is intelligent. Thanks, Julian, I plan to listen to more of his books and maybe reread a few.

The storyline today is the conversation between an old Irishman, taking leave of his land in California, going to stay with children in other locales, and needing some closure with his long time acquaintances. He himself is an Irish philosopher and blacksmith who knows he is at the end of his time on earth and goes to see a man who possesses everything necessary for success. He owns a verdant piece of literally untouched land in California. His quest to make it into a ‘garden of Eden’ was squashed by his inability to get over the catastrophes of life: a runaway wife shooting him in the shoulder and disappearing, leaving him with two beautiful, healthy boys of eleven. His wife gave birth to the boys and departed within days.

He has all the reason for success, but he grabs defeat from the jaws of victory, incapacitated by the rigors of a less than fair life. He had a father who loved him, an education in the military, and then his father passed away, leaving him and his brother a total surprise of a fortune, the fortune that allowed him to buy a beautiful piece of land and dream. He was planning and preparing for that success when he became handicapped to the point of just living one day to the next, pretty much ignoring his children and his expansive, beautiful piece of almost untouched property that has so much potential.

I am half way through this book. I am totally caught up in it. I am rooting for the cloud of disappointment and unrealistic expectations to dissipate and for Adam Trask to do the right thing, pull himself together, and take care of his children.

…to be continued…


About Richard Koerner

Seventy something, father, papi, educator, organizer, Francophile, traveler, amateur photographer, gardener, cyclist, kayaker, calligrapher, cinephile, reader, and overall renaissance type human being.
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