I finished John Steinbeck's The Wayward Bus recently. It's my first book of his...
I've heard that The Wayward Bus is considerably different then some of this other work. The whole book takes place in less than 24 hrs and is really more of a series of detailed, compelling character sketches.
It also deserves a rating beyond PG 13... Steinbeck has no notion of what is generally considered appropriate.
I loved the way he drew characters. Everybody was imperfect (actually most of them were pretty nasty) but you couldn't help liking everyone in someway or another (even if you really didn't want to). They were probably the most thoroughly old sin natured but likable characters I've read.
I also loved his description and the way he didn't seem to care about things. He just told the story as he saw it.
So...yeah...he's style and characters were the sort I really like, but that's kind of were it ended.
The god of the book is lust. And it takes everybody further into depression in sin by the last page of the novel.
With possibly the exception of Juan and Alice, everyone is much worse off by the end. After planning to run back to Mexico, Juan makes the decision to come back and help the people on the bus and return home to his wife...but on the way back commits adultery. Not sure if this is supposed to be redeeming of him or not. It doesn't seem like a very good turn around. :-P Alice didn't need much help going lower. She's drunk most of the book anyways.
Norma is probably the saddest case. She starts out as someone relatively innocent but ends up leaving for Hollywood (originally stocking Clark Gable..lol) and ends up coming under the wing of a disreputable woman that she attempts to emulate.
So...either Steinbeck was showing us how depressing life is if our god is ourselves or he just thinks that's all there is.
Don't get me wrong...I actually like dark stories (probably more than I should...especially if a lot of people die ;-). But you don't need this much blunt inappropriateness to get old sin nature across. I'm also hoping some of it is pretty twisted. It certainly doesn't give you any confidence in the race of men.
Either way, I loved the style, but wouldn't read it again or recommend it. The guy has some serious issues...
Have you had experience with Steinbeck? What was your impression?
Thanks for reading,