Tuesday, 16 October 2012

Grapes of Wrath Readalong 2: Grapes of AW, C'MON, REALLY?!

This post is part of a readalong, and it's getting a might spoilery. Check out Devouring Texts to see the other postsalongs.

Well, now I'm upset. 

I have not finished the assigned section, dudes. I was happily trucking along, reading on Wednesday with plenty o' time to finish, and then BAM. Steinbeck kills the dog. 

How could you?

Granted, the dog was nameless, and not a particularly central character, but MAN. It's just, it's the most manipulative kind of literary device, dog-killing. (Totally a literary device. That handout you get in high school goes 1. Simile, 2. Metonymy, 3. Dog-Killing.) I hate that crap. And then, I get over the dog (and myself, a little bit) and start reading again and BAM. Steinbeck kills Grampa. This is getting George RR Martin-y, and it's making me nervous. 

Grampa dying is the saddest. He didn't even want to go to California, in the end.

He's not even supposed to be here today.

But Casy was right - Grampa died the minute he left their land. UGH, Steinbeck.

Now, I'm on Chapter 15 and I've had to take a break because he's started listing cars again.

But hey, I'll catch up. It's just, it's the rainy season now in my neck of the woods and dark early + raining all the time + Grapes of freaking Wrath = sad all the livelong day.

In conclusion, dust bowl gif.

Next day pre-post update: Now I'm at the part where Tom Joad Jr. just suggested he and Casy stay behind and fix the truck while everyone else goes on ahead. Really? Split up? It's like he's never even seen a horror movie.

This will end badly.

Tuesday, 9 October 2012

Grapes of Wrath Readalong 1: The Land Before Grapes

Well, I've neither cried nor frothed with rage yet. But there's been a lot of sympathetic head-shaking.

The Dude will not abide these home-wrecking tractors.

The book is broken up into chapters of plot and chapters of atmosphere. Atmosphere-wise, we've been introduced to the hard, dust bowl land of Oklahoma in the 1930s.

Dust, stahp.

Things are not going well for farmers. Everyone's broke. No one's land is their own anymore. Chapter 5, the atmosphere chapter describing land owners sending their agents to give their tenants eviction notice, got me right in the gut. Steinbeck's writing is so fantastic in these chapters. He makes the story so much bigger than the Joads. He uses these chapters to get some Ideas out there on the page, too. Like, also in chapter 5, when he says "the monster that built the tractor, the monster that sent the tractor out, had somehow got into the driver's hands, into his brain, and muscle, had goggled him and muzzled him — goggled his mind, muzzled his speech, goggled his perception, muzzled his protest." Dude. That's good. So I'm liking these atmosphere chapters. Except for chapter 7, on the used car lot. That was a skimmer.

It was all the "Used Cars. Good Used Cars," "Buicks, Nashes, De Sotos," "If I could get a hundred jalopies," et freaking cetera.

In the plot chapters, we've been introduced to the Joad family. Tom Jr., who just got paroled from jail, is looking like our protagonist. I am REALLY liking Ma Joad, so far. We can imagine, and it's spelled out pretty blatantly early on in an atmosphere chapter, that women are wholly dependent on their men at this time. But Ma Joad is the integral Jenga piece in her family. "She seemed to know, to accept, to welcome her position, the citadel of the family, the strong place that could not be taken. [...] She seemed to know that if she swayed the whole family shook, and if she ever deeply wavered or despaired the family would fall, the family will to function would be gone." She is quietly dignified, and I am liking her face.

What else? Muley breaks my heart, wandering around like a graveyard ghos'. Characters are working the idea of communism around like the truck driver who picked up Tommy Joad worked that piece of gum. One of the more flat-out-saying-it instances is in chapter 8, when Rev. Casy is saying grace over the Joads' breakfast and says, "But when they're all workin' together, not one fella for another fella, but one fella kind of harnessed to the whole shebang — that's right, that's holy." The Joad clan + Casy have just piled into the truck and left for California, Grampa against his will. We know Tom Jr.'s going to run into trouble for breaking his parole and leaving the state. But what else will they find in California? Will there really be work? Will there really be so many grapes? What is up with the name "Rose of Sharon," or, to her friends, "Rosasharn"? So many questions, you guys. 

Mostly, I'm worried about the grape thing. 

You have crushed ENOUGH souls, Willy Wonka.

Tuesday, 2 October 2012

Grapes of Wrath Readalong: Intro Grape


Well, hello again, readalongkins! It's time for Laura's Grapes of Wrath readalong!

That's right: another month of gifs, exclamation points, and turning ALL the characters gay. It's what we do, and it's glorious. 

Now, intro post. I've never read any Steinbeck. Yet another factor that makes it unbelievable that I graduated with an English degree. I don't even actually have my copy of Grapes yet. DO NOT LET THIS CAST DOUBT ON MY RESOLVE. I am excited, and I will get the book before next Tuesday, certainly.

Seeing as I have no knowledge of Steinbeck from my formal education, I will turn to the informal font: Wikipedia. 

Serious face is serious.

Steinbeck won the Nobel Prize for Literature in 1962, and Grapes won the Pulitzer. Other important and literary things. I am late for my first day back at work after getting part of my face (wisdom teeth) removed, and so I'll have to leave it at that. We shall converse further in the comments.