Monday, July 27, 2015

The Wayward Bus

Hey, Steinbeck for my 600th blog post. Classy. This is a Steinbeck novel I'd never read. I found a first edition of it somewhere, and picked it up out of curiosity. I'd come to regard the lesser known Steinbeck novels with a kind of uncertainty, since finding In Dubious Battle somewhat disappointing. But maybe you had to be there. Anyway, this was a different kettle of fish, and I enjoyed it a great deal. It is a very simple, intimate novel, about a group of strangers on a bus that gets waylaid. I've never seen Steinbeck get quite this close with his characters in such an even handed manner. All of them were interesting, and each was appealing and repulsive in their own way. The series of events is clear and understandable, and not at all sensationalist, but there remains engaging tension throughout. I'm not sure how I feel about the ending. A more dramatic ending might have made this one of his better known novels -- but it wouldn't have been true to the characters or the story, I think. Victor Hugo's saying that "The greatest happiness in life is the conviction that we are loved—loved for ourselves, or rather, loved in spite of ourselves," I think is apt for this story. I feel like I might read it again someday. 

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