If you’ve never read East of Eden I think you have missed a transcendent experience. It is quite extraordinary. Steinbeck himself considered it his finest work. He was the recipient of both the Pulitzer Prize for fiction and the Nobel Prize for literature.
It contains the most beautiful description of the bloom each spring in the California valleys I’ve ever read. This one in particular is the Salinas valley.
East of Eden is a powerful tale of good and evil. Most of the women in the book are lovely and engaging in contrast to a Jezebellian woman of compelling evil. She lies in covert wait or takes venal action throughout the novel. One is reminded of verses from Frankie Laine’s hit record, Jezebel, in 1951:
“If ever the Devil was born without a pair of horns
It was you, Jezebel, it was you
If ever an angel fell
Jezebel, it was you, Jezebel, it was you!”
The book has superb character studies of two key brothers in the story, a charming Irishman and a fascinating Chinese man of compelling wisdom and gentility. The Irishman is a patriarch, a wonderful storyteller with captivating wit, a poor businessman, and an inventor, who ingratiates himself to the entire community.
It is the most engaging and fascinating piece of fiction I’ve ever had the privilege of reading. I can’t imagine any avid reader avoiding this rich experience.
H. Robert Rubin, best selling Amazon memoirist and author of LookBackwardAngel,How Did I Get Through This? and Please Save the Third Dance for Me, all available on Amazon
Eric Motley, an African American, was raised in Madison Park in Alabama. His memoir, “Madison Park, a Place of Hope,”, is a powerful, touching memoir particularly for one so young, in his 40s.
It was a rural community several miles out of Montgomery Alabama. The community was established by freed slaves after the Civil War and they ultimately owned the land by purchasing at least one plantation. It was well cared for. It was a TRUE community.
Eric was a little different almost from birth and was not raised by his biological parents. Eric though was ingratiating and possessed a developing intellect that would well surpass his reading difficulty early on. Those early problems were beautifully addressed in conjunction with his nurturing community.
He became a doctoral scholar whose first job at 27 was at the White House as Deputy Associate Director, Office of Presidential Personnel. This was followed not long after by a civil position at the White House equivalent to a two star general. The story of his rise to prominence is illuminating.
Dr. Motley’s warmth, his poignant prose and his deep faith in God are the beating heart of this memoir.
H. Robert Rubin, a best-selling, Amazon memoirist, a novelist with a draft novelette in progress, and author of LookBackwardAngel, How Did I Get Through This? and Please Save the Third Dance for Me, all available on Amazon
My spouse Kristine and I spent two days on Coronado Island in a wonderful Victorian beachside resort that first opened its doors in 1888, the Hotel Del Coronado. We were fortunate to be in a corner room on the 3rd floor with a porch overlooking a lovely quadrangle of palm trees, ferns and grass. During our first few minutes on the porch we were greeted by a seagull without fear who voiced his approval of the beautiful December day.
The island is a quiet world unto itself across the harbor from downtown San Diego. The “city fathers” have retained the architecture of several eras in the village that is crossed by Orange Ave. near the hotel.
We walked amongst the Christmas lights and aromas of that village. We ate at a romantic Victorian house/restaurant, Chez Loma, with French cuisine reminiscent of when we first dated in Baltimore 40 years ago.
The richest, finest onion soup I’ve had preceded beautifully prepared slices of duck l’ orange, sweet couscous with dates and crisp, flavorful string beans. Kristine had a delicately flavored and poached salmon before which she enjoyed a crisp, tangy, spinach salad. Two cappuccinos followed the meal that were delightful.
It was two days filled with laughter and joy. We felt and feel treasured in the eyes of God. Our marriage has had its obstacles but its depth and our long lives are our most precious gifts from Him.
H. Robert Rubin, best selling Amazon memoirist and author of LookBackwardAngel and How Did I Get Through This? available in multiple formats on Amazon.
Mr McBride can compose beautiful music, pen memoirs and write fiction that completely engrosses the reader. The latter is what he did here.
He loves history and character as I do and I thought the book’s shining moment was an imagined vignette about a man of great wisdom and heart, Abraham Lincoln. That alone was worth the cost of admission. Read this jewel, and if you haven’t, read another masterful work by the author, ” The Color of Water.”
Mr. McBride has a deep well of talent that continues to flow.
H. Robert Rubin, best selling Amazon. memoirist and author of LookBackwardAngel, How Did I Get Through This? and Please Save the Third Dance for Me available on Amazon.
I have updated this piece and re-blogged it in honor of Mr. McCullough, who died yesterday at 89. He is the finest biographer I have read. I just discovered today that he was such a fine narrator he narrated Ken Burns’ unforgettable breakthrough documentary on the Civil War.
I had the rare pleasure of reading this engaging biography. Orville and Wilbur were so driven that they spent both their lives single and childless. The two had enormous intellectual curiosity, keen judgement and great courage.
Prior to their success, there had been many failed and dangerous attempts to fly similar vehicles. David McCullough seems to attribute much of their success to their balanced judgement. McCullough never diminished their daring attitudes but noted its softening with an eye to safety. For example, they performed test flights over soft sand dunes.
The author’s prose is rich and absorbing. The lives of the Wright brothers fascinated him. David’s enthusiasm is contagious as one reads his prose. I have read a lot of his historical biographies, some of which have won the Pulitzer. I consider this book McCullough’s “finest hour.” For me, it was a fascinating read.
David, you will be missed but long remembered in your in your superb, biographic work.
H. Robert Rubin, a best-selling, Amazon writer and author of LookBackwardAngel, How Did I Get Through This? Please Save the Third Dance for Me (memoirs) and The Bloom is on the Rose (novelette), all available on Amazon.
When he was small the author of this brilliant memoir, whose father was African American, asked his Caucasian mother an important question. His mom was born an Orthodox Jew, but became a Christian. He asked, “What color is God?” She responded, “The color of water.”
And so one follows two remarkable journeys, that of the author and of his mother alternating through this beautiful work. She had been abused as a child, left home as soon as possible and was widowed consecutively by the deaths of her two African American husbands. She was left to raise twelve children, alone.
Mr. McBride has been an award winning composer and heralded author. All of his siblings have been remarkably successful.
This book in part is about the elements of humanity we all share. It’s specifically about a mother’s momentous effort to make her numerous children whole. To those who love the genre of memoir as I do, this is a read that should NOT be missed.
H. Robert Rubin, memoirist and author of LookBackwardAngel, How Did I Get Through and Please Save the Third Dance for Me available on Amazon.