Er… hi? Remember me? I still exist. Honest.
Besides The Grapes of Wrath being emotionally tiring, I’ve been distracted by the more-entertaining Tinker, Tailor, Soldier, Spy. Which is kind of amusing given that it’s John le Carre’s “dirty raincoat and cheap wine” style of spy novel (as opposed to Ian Fleming’s “tuxedo and dry martini”). A lot of the “action” is reading through files and people telling their tales of what happened at such-and-such a time. What makes it exciting is the definite sense of tension in situations. At one point one of the characters has the simple-sounding task of retrieving a file from the agency archives, but it becomes dramatic as he isn’t supposed to be messing with this particular file, and he’s certainly not meant to take it away with him.
That said, it can also be a little melodramatic at times (when the same in-character’s-head technique doesn’t ring as true), but on the whole a good read. I’m looking forward to the upcoming movie version, with what looks like a good quality cast (including Benedict Cumberbatch – who I’ve now seen as Sherlock Holmes, and dang if he doesn’t do it well. And I want his coat).
Anyway, Grapes of Wrath (which is the first novel on the list that I don’t yet understand the title), besides being hard going at times, is starting to even out a bit. It seems to alternate between chapters that deal with the situation in general terms, and ones that focus on a particular extended family: the Joads. I’ve tended to find the general chapters the more draining, so I’m liking that they are getting shorter, and the specific ones are getting longer (though to a rather ridiculous extent – ~5 pages versus ~50 pages). There’s fascinating (if old-fashioned) family dynamics at play in terms of who gets a say in things, and who does what, and the characters are all given a sense of depth/reality, even if – like the kids – they are only mentioned briefly.
Overall, I’m certainly finding it interesting, and I think I’m enjoying it. It’s much more a book to make you think than a book to entertain you, however, which makes it not my first choice at the end of a long day.