John Steinbeck - The Grapes of Wrath

The Grapes of Wrath - John Steinbeck, Robert DeMott

Dear John,
There is no doubt in my mind that you are an excellent writer. And I am sure you know this. There is the Pulitzer and there is the Nobel. There are hundreds of editions worldwide and swarms of five star reviews.

“The Grapes of Wrath” is a book of great weight (literally and metaphorically). It’s epic and as timeless as the history which repeats itself with a stubborn regularity. There have always been changes and there have always been people left behind, people who found themselves outside the whatever brave new world which had no place for them. And there have always been people who didn’t want to know about them, who didn’t want to hear about them. John, I know you wrote this book for them, so that no one could feign ignorance. And I get it, John, your heart is in the right place.

You did all the right things. Those ever so gentle shifts in the patriarchal society? Brilliant. You know how to warm my feminist heart with the portrayal of Ma who takes the reins over from Pa. Although, are you trying to say it’s a good thing that women take over when the world has gone to dogs or that it is another symptom of the world going to dogs? I don’t know. Never mind. According to new goodreads review guidelines I can’t judge you as a person, so let’s leave it. Let’s talk about your writing. A chapter about a turtle crossing a road? How did you pull that off? It should be proverbially boring and yet, I read it with a bated breath. Will the turtle make it to the other side of the road? Or that last final scene? Worth the seven hundred pages it takes to get to it.
I grew to love the Joads, John, even though I know they’re just pawns in your game. But again, I forgive you because your intentions are good. You’re not calculating. You really do feel for all the Joads of the world and you want the world to feel it, too. You want us all to spare a thought for all the dispossessed of the world, those who loved earth and were one with it but they were forced to quit and abandon their land, to break that sacred bond and were replaced by soulless tractors and faceless banks and corporations.

You’re preaching to the choir, John. My heart is in the right place, too.

But you know what, John? And please, don’t take it the wrong way, I did love your book, but you weren’t subtle. I like my men subtle.