They bummed me the hell out.
Or, OK, the long version:
When it comes to Grapes, after 200-or-whatever pages of bleakity bleak from Steinbeck, I had to perform an emergency evacuation of myself from 1939 California. It was affecting my life, you guys. As for We Need to Talk About Kevin, it was sooooer overdue. I think it was coming at Grapes directly from Kevin that killed it. I can only take so much focus on characters I find fundamentally unlikeable (remind me to review Adam Davies' The Frog King for you guys sometime. Shuh-heesh).
|You are not as great as you think you are, characters.|
In Kevin, as much of the internet has rightly pointed out, it's the mom. She is gratingly Proud and uses outrageously pretentious language and I will talk more about this when I've finished the book and can write a proper post. In Grapes, sure, it's the land owners, it's the Californian police, it's the pesky tractors, but most of all, it's Steinbeck. I'm having a hard time picking the book back up because I know he's just going to yell at me. He gives his call to action legs by making the reader feel terrible (whether it's class rage [which I think he'd prefer], or guilt [which he would take happily, thank you], or general The-World-is-Awful melancholy), and so, presumably, want to Make Change. This is a legitimate way to get things done, but it is also my least favourite. Give me rousing speeches and Hope for the Future any day.
I will eventually finish both of these problem children, Kevin and Grapes. Kevin obviously because I've gots to know what happened and whether my urge to punch the mom in the face ever lets up. Grapes, really, I'll finish because you've got to finish your vegetables. The book is Important, and I would like to have read it, if not to read it. I just need to distance myself from it for a bit so I'm not so annoyed with Steinbeck that I miss the parts that are beautifully written, despite the shouting.