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

Fourhundred and twenty-eighth Asic- True or not, that’s the question, Mr President! Part 3

As you all know by now…President Trump has been to Florida, speaking to ”the People” about Sweden… I live in Sweden, an open democracy far away from the USA. In fact it is so far away that Mr Trump hardly knows for sure by himself whether we had a terror act here or not yesterday… We didn’t…

I wrote about this yesterday. Obviously I was right about what happened. Here’s part of what I wrote yesterday:

”Maybe he [President Trump], unlike most political administrations worldwide finds his ”facts” from the famous American TV channel Fox News instead of consulting professionals like most other presidents would?”

The Swedish Embassy in Washington DC has been in touch with the Trump administration regarding the content of the speech that President Trump held in Florida. Shortly after that, President Trump posted a comment on Twitter. According to today’s Dagens Nyheter the Swedish Government take the tweet as an answer for their inquirements:

#asaole, #donald-trump-regarding-sweden Yesterday I was suggesting that President Trump was lying. This time, however, I think he is honest! I actually believe he used Fox News as his reference for the comment on the situation in Sweden. Wouldn’t that lead to the conclusion that Fox News are now ”banned” by the President for using fake news??? 🙂

Fourhundred and twenty-seventh Asic- True or not, that’s the question, Mr President! Part 2

#svenska flaggan, #asaole

President Trump has been to Florida, speaking to ”the People” about Sweden… I live in Sweden, an open democracy far away from the USA. In fact it is so far away that Mr Trump hardly knows for sure by himself whether we had a terror act here or not yesterday… We didn’t…

But Mr Trump has obviously listened to advisors that he trusts and thought it wise to share his worries for this nation far away with the audience in Florida. I wonder what kind of advisors would lead their president in such a stupid trap if they were his allies…or is it possible that President Trump has his own way of finding information? Maybe he, unlike most political administrations worldwide finds his ”facts” from the famous american TV channel Fox News instead of consulting professionals like most other presidents would?

Let us assume that he has been watching Fox News when they were openly lying about a fake terror act that did not happen, but was SAID to have happened here in Sweden… He has then consumed ”fake news”, hasn’t he? Let us then assume that President Trump this time did not at all think twice, instead he, like many viewers across America, just assumed that since it is a news channel, it has to be true…What does that lead to in the end? It may lead to a bad reputation for my country, in the eyes of those who believed the nonsense on Fox News…or it may lead to a bad reputation for Mr Trump’s precidency worldwide for listening to lies and believing them without a doubt…

First of all we, the people of Sweden, who did NOT experience a terror act, would instantly know that Mr Trump is spreading lies. Secondly we, the people of Sweden would either think that he is stupid in doing so, since it shows no respect for the ambition of sharing facts instead of fake news that he so eagerly have been yelling about in a number of press conferences lately. Thirdly we would worry deeply for the American people who still watch Fox News, thinking that they are served with the truth.

The Swedish Embassy in Washington DC has been in touch with the Trump administration to ask more about the content of the speech that Mr Trump held in Florida. I believe Mr Trump no longer need to worry for Sweden. Instead he can concentrate on worries for his own country.

Fourhundred and twenty-third Asic- Trump or not, that’s the question! Part 2

#American flag, #stars and stripes, #asaole

The battle between Hillary Clinton and Donald Trump has been one of my favorite soap operas last year, but as we got closer to Election Day I must admit that I was surprised that Mr Trump could actually be a possible future President of the United States of America. To me, he seemed to be far away from the person I had assumed the general american would like as their president.

But having said that, I also know that a number of Americans I talked to this past summer, were not at all as surprised as I was. This was clear to me when my family and I were visiting the USA as tourists in Florida, California and New Jersey. Since I enjoy talking politics I kept asking people I met about their opinion in the coming election. Interestingly they all seemed to enjoy the topic and shared their viewpoint with a stranger like myself.

The first person I talked to was a cab driver in Miami. He was a Haitian and on my question about the potential of the two candidates and their chances to become presidents he said that neither of the two were good enough for this wonderful country, but if he had to pick one, he would vote for Mrs Clinton AND…he said; the Cubans around Miami would most likely vote for Mr Trump, for the reason that they were all still very disappointed with the JFK leadership in the sixties. They would not likely change their opinion no matter what candidate would run for president now… They would all vote Republican, according to the cab driver.

A few days later we met another cab driver in San Fransisco. He was of Swedish origin and had his opinion crystal clear. Mr Trump was his choice… The reason was that Mrs Clinton was not to be trusted and had been involved in too many political decisions that she could be criticized for. I said that from  my point of view, there were plenty of things that one could easily criticize Mr Trump for, too, but the cab driver claimed that the most important issue for the President of USA, would be keeping an economic balance and who would be better at doing that but a billionaire?

A lady whom I talked to for a while when lining up for the ferry to Alcatraz shared the viewpoint that Mr Trump was just playing around. In her opinion Mrs Clinton and Mr Trump were involved in a conspiracy, since they have known each other for many years and may have decided that Mr Trump would be running for President only to make sure Mrs Clinton would easily win…

Last but not least, a member of staff in the National Constitution Center, held the viewpoint that there had to be NEW THINKING and then Mrs Clinton would be disqualified for the reason that she had been a politician for way too long…

Four different opinions from four different Americans, but with one thing in common… They all seemed to be fed up with the SYSTEM and just wanted the Election Day to come, to get it over with. Lately when the tone in TV debates was worse than ever, I wanted the Election Day to come, too, so we would get the answer to the thrilling question: Who would be the President of the United States?

When that answer actually came, I was truly surprised and the many questions in my head about the future for the ordinary citizens of the USA piled up. What would happen to the Obamacare? How about the Mexican Wall…? Can that truly be of any interest for the general tax payer? And the Dakota Access pipeline… Who would go against so many people’s protests? What about the multilateral agreements with East Asian countries? Who would want to disagree with China in any matter concerning money? There were many more issues that was brought to the surface this last week and a few of them made more impact than others.

Women’s right to decide for themselves what their future will be like is closely linked to legislation for abortion. The last week Mr Donald Trump wrote his signature over and over again on executive actions, when surrounded by his crowd of ”yes-sayers”. Many of the executive actions meant changes for the worse for people in other parts of the world, such as the one where President Trump ordered that federal dollars cannot go to organizations that provide abortion services. What kind of LIFE will mother and child have if the pregnancy is a result of a rape? In this matter I would say that:

One step backwards for the American President is a giant leap backwards for women worldwide

Today’s news was all about the twitter battle between Mr Trump and the Mexican president concerning the Mexican wall… They are like little boys in the sandpit. Why write official tweets with offending content when they would be better up talking, just the two of them…

Luckily some officials dare to go against stupidness… One of them was obviously the Mexican president when he decided to cancel his trip to Washington DC. The other brave act was when the staff in the foreign ministry decided to resign, all of them, as a group, because they did not wish to work for Mr Trump and last but not least the 24th of January Gov. Jerry Brown promised to stand up for ALL citizens of California, including the immigrants.

The country I visited last summer is divided…

What an extremely difficult task someone else will have four years from now, to make America UNITED again, after being ”GREAT” for four years…

Threehundred and ninety-eighth Asic- Trump or not, that’s the question!

The battle between Hillary Clinton and Donald Trump has been one of my favorite soap operas this year. Many people in my own country have been engaged in the American… Why is that? one may ask. I think one of the reasons is that the USA is involved in so many foreign countries worldwide. So many decisions are made in the USA that have an impact on the rest of the world.

We, the people in OTHER countries ”have to” be interested in whether next president will be Mr Donald Trump or Mrs Hillary Clinton, since American politics effect us all… I want the Election Day to end, so we get the answer to the thrilling question: Who will be the President of the United States?

Tomorrow we will know…

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