The Letter E (A-to-Z Challenge)

East of Eden

John Steinbeck


Among my way too many books there are five elderly paperbacks that have been read and and reread and loved almost beyond repair, they are faded and scraped and scarred from being stashed in totes and backpacks, torn and twisted from being jammed tightly into banana boxes for moving or carelessly knocked down behind nightstands or kicked under car seats where they fraternized with old homework papers and food wrappers and collected dents and nicks and grease spots; their corners are rounded and their covers are creased and tattered, their once-stiff paper spines now as flexible as fabric bandages, their edges thumbed to the softness of an old oxford shirt.  Sometimes I will reach for one of these beloved books as much for the comforting touch of their pliable bodies and their frayed and sueded covers as for their content.  Like the Velveteen Rabbit, these books have become ‘real’.

The titles of these five paper bound companions of the bosom are: The Three Musketeers, The Hobbit, The Pickwick Papers, The Canterbury Tales, and John Steinbeck’s East of Eden.

Now comes the bad part.  The fact is that I didn’t get a chance to read over East of Eden this weekend like I meant to do. This isn’t because I procrastinated or indulged in Easter excesses.  It is because when I went to reach for my comfortable old velvet-soft copy I remembered with a horrid shock that SOMEONE had BORROWED it and LOST it.

I do have a new copy, but it is beyond horrible.  I don’t know why anyone would bind a book like this.  It’s awkwardly over sized, not quite tall and wide enough for its thickness.  The pages are made of that rough craft paper people use for homemade Christmas cards which makes it unnecessarily bulky.  If it had either a flexible paper cover or a decent hard cover you could almost deal with the pages, but the textblock has been glued into a stiff, shiny armor of rigid cardstock  that seems to be constantly trying to dissociate itself from the floppy pages. However you try to hold it the sharp edged cover cuts into your hands. There is simply no way to read this book.  It’s too chunky to hold in one hand, it’s too inflexible and fat to lie open on a desk or a table and – this last bit defies belief but I swear it’s true – the pages are deckle-edged.  You literally cannot get hold of the pages to turn them.  Who on earth thinks it’s a good idea to make a deckle-edged book?  Not someone who has actually ever read a book.

So the problem is I don’t have a readable copy of East of Eden and it’s almost noon on Letter E Day.

I’m afraid that the only thing left to do is to apologize that this has turned into a story about my own copy of East of Eden instead of the recommendation for John Steinbeck’s East of Eden which I had intended, and then post it anyway.*  If only there were more hours left in this day, if only I had started thinking about this yesterday, if only I had any copy to skim through other than the nasty shiny artsy paper one that I can’t even bear to hold in my hands . . . but there aren’t, and I didn’t, and I don’t, so there it is.**

Tell you what, though, I also love Cannery Row, and I believe that ‘R’ is still up for grabs,*** so maybe we can look forward to that.

See you tomorrow for Letter F,****


*Of course, if you’re actually interested, there are bound to be dozens of reviews out there written by people way more qualified than myself.

**This did bring my word count down to 662 though.

***See my disclaimer regarding my reserving the right to abuse and/or ignore the rules of alphabetization.

****Already written, I promise!


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