The Great Okie Novel: The Grapes of Wrath

I am reading books that have slipped through the net. Classic texts that I have missed along the way. This month I am reading John Steinbeck’s The Grapes of Wrath.

What is amazing about this text, after another failed attempt at reading J.G. Ballard’s Crash, is the rhythm of the line. Steinbeck just doesn’t capture the tone of the character, he captures the utter hopelessness of the time. It makes the reader want to learn more about how the great dust bowl came about, how families where displaced, robbed and thrown off their homeland by banks. It echoes the theft of land from Native Americans, it takes us through the language of the people, dubbed Okies, who for them the land is everything. It is their home, their life, their job and their family. In this spot a father died at the hand of a steer, a mother died of exhaustion, a child passed away to disease. There is blood in this land and Steinbeck knew it. If you’re going to try your hand at a twentieth century classic, reach for Steinbeck. Watch and listen to how a family is torn from its roots and driven west until the land runs out.

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