Five hundred and twentythird Asic – The Grapes of Wrath- A Sort of Book Review

What Makes a Good Book Good Enough?

That is one of the things that keeps me busy when I start reading any book whatsoever… Like many other students I was forced to read ”Of Mice and Men” in school as a teenager, and I guess my teacher picked the novel for a few different reasons, among one was the endurable length… I was however thrilled by the way Steinbeck built up his characters and how the story developed.  From a few hints on how George and Lennie had to move on again, after something terrible had happened, I realized I was already thinking; What had happened? As a young reader of a classic novel I was thrilled enough to keep reading until the very last page… I also read ”The Pearl” with great interest and without any effort, but for a novel like ”The Grapes of Wrath” it takes 455 pages before you know the end of the story. As a young reader, I did not meet that challenge, but a summer a couple of years ago, during a vaction in California, ”The Grapes of Wrath” was my perfect companion. I drove past the road sign with ”Salinas” and I went to Monterey and the Monterey Bay Aquarium where a section in the Museum describes John Steinbeck’s writing and I was happy to know that in my car, the book was waiting for me to turn the next page and the next…

Nobelpris_medalj

John Steinbeck received the Nobel Prize in 1962,

”for his realistic and imaginative writings, combining as they do sympathetic humour and keen social perception”

 Although ”The Grapes of Wrath” was written in 1938 and first published in 1939, the content is extremely important also in 2018. Migrants today, face the same kind of ignorance and racism as the Okies (people from Oklahoma, moving to California) in Steinbeck’s novel. Migrants both now and then, left for the thought of a better future, filled with hope, but also fear. Their plans and hopes are not always fulfilled…

Describing the process of change in a person’s life, like Steinbeck does in ”The Grapes of Wrath”, is a delicate matter between being true or being pathetic. Neither can you exaggerate too much nor be too shallow.

The novel very closely describes the extremely poor conditions for migrant workers in California in the thirties. Racism, cruelty and violence together with greed seems to be the rule and being from Oklahoma, means being an Okie, which is a stigmatised group at the time. No matter how hard they work, they seem to face very little understanding and empathy from the Californians. The Okies move from one workplace to the other and get less paid for each time they move, so it seems.

vindruvor

Throughout the novel, Steinbeck give descriptions of the surrounding landscape and certain topics of interest. One of the chapters is like a dialogue between a car salesman and an Okie buyer and written with humor, although the underlying message is that many poor Okies were fooled by the car dealers, selling off good cattle or mules in trade for a jalopy. Another such chapter is a very nice description of a few instruments, the harmonica, the guitar and the fiddle and how they blend in together for the coming dance evening, when a certain piece of music is played. That is also where ”Swedes up in Dakota” (p 342) are mentioned, which is fun to read for me as Swedish.

But apart from these humorous chapters, there are also some very critical topics, as when Steinbeck describes how land owners had too much fruit and too much potatoes, too many pigs and instead of giving the food to the extremely poor workers, they poisoned the potatoes, drowned the pigs and drenched the fruit in kerosene, only for the pleasure of not giving it to the starving workers. That is when ”The Grapes of Wrath”(p 349) is uttered…

A good book is a book you never forget…

That is what ”The Grapes of Wrath” was to me…

 

cotton-capsule

Annonser

Four Hundred and Eightieth Asic – The Grapes of Wrath- A Sort of Book Review

What Makes a Good Book Good Enough?

That is one of the things that keeps me busy when I start reading any book whatsoever… Like many other students I was forced to read ”Of Mice and Men” in school as a teenager, and I guess my teacher picked the novel for a few different reasons, among one was the endurable length… I was however thrilled by the way Steinbeck built up his characters and how the story developed.  From a few hints on how George and Lennie had to move on again, after something terrible had happened, I realized I was already thinking; What had happened? As a young reader of a classic novel I was thrilled enough to keep reading until the very last page… I also read ”The Pearl” with great interest and without any effort, but for a novel like ”The Grapes of Wrath” it takes 455 pages before you know the end of the story. As a young reader, I did not meet that challenge, but last summer, during a vaction in California, ”The Grapes of Wrath” was my perfect companion. I drove past the road sign with ”Salinas” and I went to Monterey and the Monterey Bay Aquarium where a section in the Museum describes John Steinbeck’s writing and I was happy to know that in my car, the book was waiting for me to turn the next page and the next…

Nobelpris_medalj

John Steinbeck received the Nobel Prize in 1962,

”for his realistic and imaginative writings, combining as they do sympathetic humour and keen social perception”

To me as a Swedish reader, both when I was young and now, I  must say Steinbeck really made a difference. I can see his deep engagement concerning important issues in society and although ”The Grapes of Wrath” was written in 1938 and first published in 1939, the content is extremely important also in 2016. In Europe where I live, migration is an every day topic, since many thousands of people are on the move between different countries. Some end up in camps or in asylum seeking procedures where bureaucratic systems cannot handle the massiv number of applications quick enough. Migrants today, face the same kind of ignorance and racism as the Okies (people from Oklahoma, moving to California) in Steinbeck’s novel. Migrants both now and then, left for the thought of a better future, filled with hope, but also fear. Their plans may be delayed or sometimes changed, and for a few the plans and hopes may never be fulfilled, due to accidents or other problems along the way.

Describing the process of change in a person’s life, like Steinbeck does in ”The Grapes of Wrath”, is a delicate matter, since it is walking on a thin line between being true or being pathetic. Neither can you exaggerate too much nor be too shallow. When the story begins we meet the American state Oklahoma when the weather conditions have been very poor for a long time. Draught and winds have left the land destroyed and every corn field has a layer of dust that makes the corn worthless. The protagonist Tom Joad, is an ex-convict from Mac Alester, where he sat four years for homicide. Now he is out on parole. Tom Joad comes back home in company with an old friend of the family, Jim Casy. In order to find job and better opportunities the Joads decide to leave Oklahoma for California. During the long trip from Sallisaw, Oklahoma to California both Grandpa and Grandma die. Tom’s brother Noah, and his sister’s boyfriend Connie leave the family for different reasons, but the rest of the family stick together. Ma and Pa, Tom and his brother Al, their sister Rosasharn who is pregnant and the younger children Ruthie and Windfield all come to California after a very tough trip through several states, over mountains and finally through the desert.

The novel very closely describes the extremely poor conditions for migrant workers in California in the thirties. Racism, cruelty and violence together with greed seems to be the rule and being from Oklahoma, means being an Okie, which is a stigmatised group at the time. No matter how hard they work, they seem to face very little understanding and empathy from the Californians. The Joads and the other Okies move from one workplace to the other and get less paid for each time they move, so it seems. For several reasons Tom gets in trouble again.

vindruvor

Throughout the novel, Steinbeck give descriptions of the surrounding landscape and certain topics of interest. One of the chapters is like a dialogue between a car salesman and an Okie buyer and written with humor, although the underlying message is that many poor Okies were fooled by the car dealers, selling off good cattle or mules in trade for a jalopy. Another such chapter is a very nice description of a few instruments, the harmonica, the guitar and the fiddle and how they blend in together for the coming dance evening, when a certain piece of music is played. That is also where ”Swedes up in Dakota” (p 342) are mentioned, which is fun to read for me as Swedish.

But apart from these humorous chapters, there are also some very critical topics, as when Steinbeck describes how land owners had too much fruit and too much potatoes, too many pigs and instead of giving the food to the extremely poor workers, they poisoned the potatoes, drowned the pigs and drenched the fruit in kerosene, only for the pleasure of not giving it to the starving workers. That is when ”The Grapes of Wrath”(p 349) is uttered…

For a period of time, the Joads live in the Weedpatch camp, which is a state camp. For the first time in their lives, Ruthie and Windfield see toilets. The workers are all involved in taking care of the camp together, making sure it is kept clean. Here the Joads meet other people they can trust and make friends with and for a moment the reader is fooled to think this book has a happy ending…

I highly recommend ”The Grapes of Wrath” if you would like to get a glimpse of migrant life from the inside. The novel reveal several complex issues and through the Joads and their discussions throughout the novel, you and I get a chance to consider those issues, too. With the coming election in the USA last year when I was there, the voters could decide whether there would be harder times or not for migrant workers from abroad, picking fruit and cotton in California for the benefit of American producers. Some of the migrants came there just like the Joads, with the hope of a better future. Some of the current Californians are likely to be decendants from Okies who came in the thirties.

Let us read books like ”The Grapes of Wrath” and never forget what made us the ones we are today.

cotton-capsule

Fyrahundrasextiosjätte åseriet- 35 000 views!

 This blog has now had 35,000 views!

In my blog I share thoughts and experiences from my life and teaching career. Occasionally I also write book reviews or share my experiences from trips. Most of the content is written in Swedish since that’s my mother tongue. Some of the posts may be interesting to an English-speaking reader. Please look for ”In English” in the menu to the left. Thanks!

Nu har bloggen haft 35 000 visningar!

Tack alla ni som läser det jag skriver. Ibland gör jag djupdykningar i något som för stunden känns intressant, som till exempel ett författarskap eller en aspekt av lärande eller undervisning. Om du tittar i menyn till vänster under ”På svenska” kanske du hittar något läsvärt.

Där finns till exempel #Musikupplägg att samtala om. Under sommaren 2016 handlade ett antal blogginlägg om upplevelser från en turistresa i USA. För att hitta dem är det enklast att söka här på bloggen med #Turist i USA. Naturupplevelser i Sverige har också fått plats här, till exempel en resa i trakten runt #Högakustenbron, men även naturupplevelser som ett besök i skogsmiljö vid #Predikstolen. Efter sommaren återgick bloggen till att vara en mix av reflektioner om undervisning, boktips och däremellan en del minnen från lärargärningen och först ut bland dessa inlägg var ett inlägg om svenskan som #Melodins språk. I augusti jobbade jag med reflektioner om #läsning och #läsundervisning. Dessutom har jag gjort en djupdykning i #Theodor Kallifatides författarskap, där del 1 är ett åseri som heter #trehundrafyrtioåttonde åseriet.

Under hösten 2016 skrev jag om mina erfarenheter av bröstcancer. Om du vill läsa om det så kan du hitta det första blogginlägget här:

https://asaole.com/2016/10/04/trehundrasjuttionde-aseriet-brostcancer-i-kropp-och-knopp-del-1/

Läser du vidare i höst, så hoppas jag dela med mig av fler undervisningstips både här, på #viärlärare, #asaole och på min YouTube-kanal #åseriklipp. Tack för att du läser! ❤

 

 

Fourhundred and forty-sixth Asic- If you give a Magpie a Cookie…

Mouse

Years ago when my oldest daughter was a couple of years old, she got this little book as a gift from one of my dearest friends in the USA. I was told by him that the story was very much appreciated by young children and along with the book my daughter also got a little stuffed animal in the shape of a mouse, dressed like the mouse on the cover of the book. The book is the kind of repeating story that children love to listen to and there are many other books similar to this in many other countries, for instance in Sweden where I live. We learn to love the stories, although adults tend to love the first few times we read them, while children seem to like them although it may be the hundredth time its read to them…

I was thinking of this book today, because the story about the little mouse who is likely to want more and more from the boy in the book, is acting like the magpie in my garden. I was sitting in my garden today, together with one of my friends. It was lovely weather and we enjoyed the sunshine after a days work. We were first right under the oak tree, but after a while when the sun was moving, we moved, too, since our bench was now in the shade. We left the set table with cookies and tea under the oak tree…but moved the bench to a spot where the sun was still warming.  Suddenly my friend said: ”Look! The magpie is stealing something from the table!”

To her surprise I was merely saying ”Oh!” in the same kind of voice we use for cute little animals we love, or for little children… I had to tell her that this was most likely ”my” magpie from the birds nest in my apple tree on the other side of our house… And my friend looked as if the next thing to say would be ”So?!” It turned out that we had different experiences from magpies and their behavior, but shared the point of view that they are pretty smart. I decided to give the magpie a cookie. But I didn’t act at once. Instead we chatted on and after a while the magpie returned for another try at the table… My friend commented that maybe It would be TOO much of an offer to give the magpie ALL my cookies, so then I clapped my hands and the magpie flew off again… After it was gone, I removed every cookie except one. I left it on the chair and my friend and I got back to our bench a few meters away to wait and see whether the magpie would dare to try and get the cookie… She did!
drömmarMy only disappointment was that the magpie flew off to a garden two houses off from mine…

Really?! I couldn’t believe I was feeding the wrong magpie!!!…and with freshly baked cookies, too!!

Now I only dread the rest of the story, because if you give a magpie a cookie, she will most certainly come back for a glass of milk…but when I give her the milk, she will ask for a straw…

More about my magpie experiences are found in this link:

http://wp.me/p4uFqc-1e

magpie #skata

Fourhundred and thirty-fifth åsic- As cold as in ”To Build a Fire”, by Jack London? #Londonfrossa

Today we had round -20C in my town. The crisp air and the cold did not bother me, since I had planned my walk in the forest thoroughly and was dressed in warm winter clothes.

Many years ago I read the wonderful short story To Build a Fire by Jack London. If you haven’t read it, then DO! It is one of the best short stories I have ever read. Here’s a link to the full text:

To Build a Fire by Jack London

I learned from reading the story long ago that whatever we think we accomplish, we never win a competition with Nature! Jack London tells his story from the point of view of a man who decides to leave the main trail and seek another way, thinking maybe it will be a shortcut… London lets us know that the protagonist is new in the area. He has never spent a winter in Yukon Territory before. Then the author adds:

”The trouble with him was that he was without imagination.”

That is all information we need, really… We understand that he will not be fully prepared for what he will experience in this unfriendly and cold whiteness. When London describes the extreme cold, we understand the danger, but does the man?

”He knew that at fifty below spittle crackled on the snow, but this spittle had crackled in the air.”

The man does realize that it has to be below fifty, but that doesn’t lead him into the conclusion that he will not manage in this weather for long. Throughout the story several situations point out how unaware the man seems to be of the hidden dangers in the surrounding landscape. The man chews tobacco and his beard is filled with ice and along the telling of the story we notice how the beard is slowly built up like an ice-muzzle. If he will take a pause, he will not be able to eat or drink…

London describes many aspects of the Yukon winter that this man is not familiar with and as he paints the icecold scenario the reader slowly comes to the insight that this will lead to a disaster of some sort. The protagonist is followed by a dog, a native husky that knows enough of this weather as to wait for the man to soon build a fire… but the man does not stop to build a fire… As the dog once breaks through and wets his forelegs when being forced by the man to cross over at a hidden creek, the man first admires the dog’s instinct to quickly get rid of the wet and ice, then he foolishly removes his own gloves to help the dog…unaware of the risk for his own sake. His fingers instantly turn numb and that is in a way the beginning of the end…

When I took a walk today, I was taking one single step aside of the track, because I was searching for a better angle for my photo… Afterwards, my boots were filled with snow that first melted for a while, then re-froze and from being perfectly comfortable with my situation I was now slowly getting more and more cold. I was however lucky to know I was only fifteen minutes from home. I didn’t even need to think of building a fire… Instead I went indoors, thinking I was lucky who lived in the middle of a town and not in Yukon Territory, but also remembering this wonderful short story by Jack London with warmth. What a great piece of literature that is!

Three Hundred and Eighty-First Asic – Nobel Prize in literature 2016, Part 3

 

Nobelpris_medaljWhen the Secretary of the Swedish Academy announces this year’s winner of the prestigeous Nobel Prize in literature, many of the bookmakers have been biting their nails for a few days. As always we also meet different experts who share their particular viewpoint, such as the literature critics invited to the studio at SVT today:

nobelstudion_2016

Will this year’s winner be one of the favorites or not? I keep hoping for Joyce Carol Oates, year after year. I think the committee has put a spell on her for some reason, since she never seems to be good enough in the competition.

According to Swedish newspapers this year, for instance Dagens Nyheter (DN), names like Ngugi wa Thiong’o (Kenya), Bob Dylan (USA),  Ali Ahmad Said Asbar more known as Adonis (Syria) or Haruki Murakami (Japan) have been mentioned as possible winners.

Nobel Prize in literature 2016 goes to Bob Dylan for having created new poetic expression within the American Song Tradition

Now that we know the winner, I guess the hunt for books starts right away! Everyone likes to read the Nobel Prize winner in order to follow the debate… I would most certainly be one of them who would like to give my opinion for questions such as Is this good literature or not? Did you like this year’s winner? 

Three Hundred and Seventy-Ninth Asic – Nobel Prize in literature 2016, Part 1

What Makes a Good Book Good Enough?

That is one of the things that keeps me busy when I start reading any book whatsoever… Like many other students I was forced to read several books by Nobel Prize winners in school as a teenager, and I guess my teachers picked the novels for different reasons… One of the authors I started to like by reading in school was John Steinbeck. I was thrilled by the way Steinbeck built up his characters in ”Of Mice and Men” and how the story developed.  From a few hints on how George and Lennie had to move on again, after something terrible had happened, I realized I was already thinking; What had happened? As a young reader of a classic novel I was thrilled enough to keep reading until the very last page… I also read ”The Pearl” with great interest and without any effort, but for a novel like ”The Grapes of Wrath” it takes 455 pages before you know the end of the story. As a young reader, I did not meet that challenge, but this summer, during a vaction in California, ”The Grapes of Wrath” was my perfect companion. I drove past the road sign with ”Salinas” and I went to Monterey and the Monterey Bay Aquarium where a section in the Museum describes John Steinbeck’s writing and I was happy to know that in my car, the book was waiting for me to turn the next page and the next…

Nobelpris_medalj

John Steinbeck received the Nobel Prize in 1962,

”for his realistic and imaginative writings, combining as they do sympathetic humour and keen social perception”

To me as a Swedish reader, both when I was young and now, I  must say Steinbeck really made a difference. I can see his deep engagement concerning important issues in society and although ”The Grapes of Wrath” was written in 1938 and first published in 1939, the content is extremely important also in 2016. In Europe where I live, migration is an every day topic, since many thousands of people are on the move between different countries. Some end up in camps or in asylum seeking procedures where bureaucratic systems cannot handle the massive number of applications quickly enough. Migrants today, face the same kind of ignorance and racism as the Okies (people from Oklahoma, moving to California) in Steinbeck’s novel. Migrants both now and then, left for the thought of a better future, filled with hope, but also fear. Their plans may be delayed or sometimes changed, and for a few the plans and hopes may never be fulfilled, due to accidents or other problems along the way.

Describing the process of change in a person’s life, like Steinbeck does in ”The Grapes of Wrath”, is a delicate matter, since it is walking on a thin line between being true or being pathetic. Neither can you exaggerate too much nor be too shallow. When the story begins we meet the American state Oklahoma when the weather conditions have been very poor for a long time. Draught and winds have left the land destroyed and every corn field has a layer of dust that makes the corn worthless. The protagonist Tom Joad, is an ex-convict from Mac Alester, where he sat four years for homicide. Now he is out on parole. Tom Joad comes back home in company with an old friend of the family, Jim Casy. In order to find job and better opportunities the Joads decide to leave Oklahoma for California. During the long trip from Sallisaw, Oklahoma to California both Grandpa and Grandma die. Tom’s brother Noah, and his sister’s boyfriend Connie leave the family for different reasons, but the rest of the family stick together. Ma and Pa, Tom and his brother Al, their sister Rosasharn who is pregnant and the younger children Ruthie and Windfield all come to California after a very tough trip through several states, over mountains and finally through the desert.

The novel very closely describes the extremely poor conditions for migrant workers in California in the thirties. Racism, cruelty and violence together with greed seems to be the rule and being from Oklahoma, means being an Okie, which is a stigmatised group at the time. No matter how hard they work, they seem to face very little understanding and empathy from the Californians. The Joads and the other Okies move from one workplace to the other and get less paid for each time they move, so it seems. For several reasons Tom gets in trouble again.

vindruvor

Throughout the novel, Steinbeck give descriptions of the surrounding landscape and certain topics of interest. One of the chapters is like a dialogue between a car salesman and an Okie buyer and written with humor, although the underlying message is that many poor Okies were fooled by the car dealers, selling off good cattle or mules in trade for a jalopy. Another such chapter is a very nice description of a few instruments, the harmonica, the guitar and the fiddle and how they blend in together for the coming dance evening, when a certain piece of music is played. That is also where ”Swedes up in Dakota” (p 342) are mentioned, which is fun to read for me as Swedish.

But apart from these humorous chapters, there are also some very critical topics, as when Steinbeck describes how land owners had too much fruit and too much potatoes, too many pigs and instead of giving the food to the extremely poor workers, they poisoned the potatoes, drowned the pigs and drenched the fruit in kerosene, only for the pleasure of not giving it to the starving workers. That is when ”The Grapes of Wrath”(p 349) is uttered…

For a period of time, the Joads live in the Weedpatch camp, which is a state camp. For the first time in their lives, Ruthie and Windfield see toilets. The workers are all involved in taking care of the camp together, making sure it is kept clean. Here the Joads meet other people they can trust and make friends with and for a moment the reader is fooled to think this book has a happy ending…

I highly recommend ”The Grapes of Wrath” if you would like to get a glimpse of migrant life from the inside. The novel reveal several complex issues and through the Joads and their discussions throughout the novel, you and I get a chance to consider those issues, too. With the coming election in the USA, the voters can decide whether there will be harder times or not for migrant workers from abroad, picking fruit and cotton in California for the benefit of American producers. Some of the migrants came there just like the Joads, with the hope of a better future. Some of the current Californians are likely to be decendants from Okies who came in the thirties.

Let us read books like ”The Grapes of Wrath” and never forget what made us the ones we are today.

cotton-capsule