It was a day as different as other days as dogs are from cats and both of them from chrysanthemums or tidal waves or scarlet fever. John Steinbeck, The Winter of Our Discontent
As a teenager, I fell in love with “The Pearl”, then I read “Grapes of Wrath”, or “the history of our people” as my English teacher proclaimed. I was entranced by clever words of Steinbeck and read almost all of his books. I’m not sure how this one escaped me, but I haven’t read a word of Steinbeck since then. This is the first time I have picked up one of his books in my adult life and I am so glad I did.
The Winter of Our Discontent is a multi-layered novel. The layer that enraptures me involves the main character’s son, Allen. Allen complains that their family doesn’t have things that “all” the other families have, and wants to get-rich-quick by winning an essay contest (they’re rigged, you know). His father, Ethan, is a little taken aback. He is happy that his kids want to enter an essay contest, but he is discouraged as to why. Ethan has plans for his son to work at the grocery store with him for the summer, but he responds that he can’t, he’s not 16 yet and that would break the child labor laws (when was this written? it sounds pretty recent to me).
Allen wins an honorary mention in the essay contest, but we find out he plagiarized from several famous speeches. When he is found out, he does not exhibit any of the behavior a cheater who is caught would display; no remorse or shame. And he doesn’t understand why it is such a big deal. Let me reiterate that this book was published in 1961. Before the Lori Laughlin/Hollywood College Bribery Scandal of ’19.
I have much to say about Allen’s role in the story as it relates to real life. Our school provides many courses online, and they are nothing but an end to a mean. And not just online courses. The desire to learn in waning. And why should one learn? FaceBook and Twitter tell you what to think, Google has all the answers, and your parents will give you every thing else.
The second review is of an anthology call #NotYourPrincess. At first I though it was a non-fiction book of how Native American women are viewed in our culture and what their roles are. These are themes that are addressed through short essays, poems, art, and comic strips. I find that I am a little envious of Native Americans. They are certain of their heritage and culture – not just by race, but down to the very tribe their ancestors come from. I once asked my parents what our nationality was. My mom said we were Heinz 57. A condiment.