Tuesday, 15 June 2004

I finished the cycling book at about Calais on my Eurostar trip from London to Paris, and wasted no time in launching into my next endeavour, a copy of Steinbeck's Of Mice And Men that mum had tracked down for me in an Australian op-shop.

When I finished this book I damn near cried right there on the train. Its a scanty 100 pages, give or take, and not a word too short, and not a word too long. The story Steinbeck tells is lean in its expression and direction, but voluptuous in its resonance and clarity. Like The Grapes Of Wrath, he establishes a distinct and, as far as one can tell, very true characterisation of his setting, but where Grapes had drawn a picture of populations and classes, here he paints a story of people in the small, of individual traits.

This is, without doubt, the best book that I have read in a long time, and perhaps ever (warning: those who know me will know that I am prone to imperatives - the saying "perhaps the greatest book of all time" was on the tips of my fingers).

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