Wednesday, December 30, 2009

The Moon is Down by John Steinbeck (1942)

Remember Steinbeck from Travels with Charley? One of the things that we talked about is how Steinbeck is such a keen observer of people and how he can give you a sense of the person's character is a sentence or two... I love that. I love books that don't waste words. In 126 pages, Steinbeck tells a huge and powerful story about the "patriotic fervor of the men and woman of the Norwegian underground who refused to let their spirit die."

Steinbeck introduces the cast around the town mayor with such simple precision that you feel that you know them right away.

There's Doctor Winter: "He watched in amazement while his thumbs rolled over and over in his lap. Doctor Winter was a man so simple that only a profound man would know him as profound." (pg 3)

The serving man, Joseph: "Joseph habitually scowled at furniture, expecting it to be impertinent, mischevious or dusty. In a world where Mayor Orden was the leader of men, Joseph was the leader of furniture, silver and dishes." (pg 3)

And the mayor's wife: "Madame emerged, small and wrinkled and fierce. She considered that she had created this man out of whole cloth, had thought him up, and she was sure that she could do a better job if she had to do it again. Only once or twice in her life has she ever understood all of him, but the part of him which she knew, she knew intricately and well. No little appetite or pain, no carelessness or meanness in him escaped her; no thought or dream or longing in him ever reached her." (pg 8)

I love that... don't you feel like you know everything that matters about her?

A great little, thought provoking read: highly recommended!

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