Thursday 26 May 2011

Literary Blog Hop May 26-29

Literary Blog Hop
I missed the last Literary Blog Hop so I'm excited to take part in it this week, and it's a really really awesome awesome question too. So wooo!

Talk about one author that you love and why his or her writing is unique. Please be specific.

I  basically have two authors that I adore, one of which is Stephen King, who I do go on about here all the time; and the other is John Steinbeck, who seems like a more appropriate author to talk about here since it is a literary blog hop, and, much as I would like him to be considered so, Stephen King is not exactly literary.

So why do I love Steinbeck so very much? It's kind of hard to explain, I guess, but I've just never really read another author like him. He seems to have this ability to fit so much meaning and symbolism into his novels, but also to combine this with amazing characters that you feel you could know, all while using language that is effortless and understandable, without in the least dumbing down. My love for him may also be fairly attributed to the time I started reading his novels, but I remember him as being the first 'classic' author that I could really understand and connect too, having struggled through some Austen and Bronte when I was really too young to have a full apprecitation for them.

Apart from that, there are just the stories. Based in a California that is so perfectly idyllic, against the background of human nature that can be so bitterly cruel, Steinbeck just nails people down to a fine art- his characters are complex enough to contain within them all a certain amount of good and evil, and it is this more than anything that sets him apart from a lot of other authors- an acceptance that characters, like people, must contain within them just the right balance of good and bad, in order to be plausible. In his fiction, just as in life, there are times when the bad overtakes the good, and it is this that creates just the right amount of drama and intensity in his writing, but more often than not the good wins out, and one feels the integral goodness and joy that there is in the world- in Cannery Row, for example, when Mack does something wrong, he instantly knows it and wants to make it up to Doc, and in his actions you see so much goodness coming out that you can't help but love him. Steinbeck really just puts the entirety of the world under a microscope, and comes out with the conclusion that everyone is really very similar- mostly striving to do the right thing, but sometimes getting lost on the way, sometimes irretrievably, but mostly in a way that they can be saved from.

Steinbeck can also be hilarious, but more than anything he puts out a sense of hope into the world. Even in The Grapes of Wrath, possibly the most hopeless story ever written, the ending is still so symbolic of hopefulness and the promise of a better future that I couldn't love it any more than I do, and I couldn't love him any more either.


  1. GREAT response! You've convinced me to read more Steinbeck. I kinda liked Grapes of Wrath in high school (as much as I could like anything that I was being made to read for a class) and so I should really explore some more of his novels. Which one(s) do you recommend most highly?

  2. I think King kind of touches on literary concepts but has never made it the full way into that field. I did read him a few times for a couple different college classes. Granted the classes were Horror Fiction and the Modern Bestseller but still.

    This post (almost) makes me want to pick up Grapes of Wrath again. I hated it when I read it, but I read it in Sophomore English and I think you're supposed to hate most of what you read there.

  3. I'm going to agree with Red but go a little further and say that King occasionally gets his foot pushed through the door of the literary world. Steinbeck is a great choice, however! (And it freed me up to write about King in my post!)

  4. I read grapes of wrath in high school and struggled to get through it. I don't suppose I was ready for it then. Maybe its time for a re-read. Great post.

  5. Well, you know I mentioned Steinbeck as a possibility in my own post this week so, of course, I completely agree with you. He has a "something" that is unequaled in literature, except, perhaps, by William Faulkner. That "something," for me, is his mastery of regionalism. His ability to capture a group of people in a particular time and place, and make that resonate across time and distance barriers, it's uncanny. He's definitely a favorite of mine!