A Russian Journal response

September 30, 2009

I think if A Russian Journal had ended with some sort of controversy, or ironic take-away, our class as a whole would have enjoyed the book much more. If, for example, the box containing all of Capa’s photographs had been filled with rocks, or anything but the photos themselves, the book would have had a more enticing touch. Then maybe Steinbeck’s completed mission wouldn’t have sounded so dry and uneventful. The things that make Steinbeck, and all authors in general, good and exciting to read, are how they resolve a controversy or overcome some sort of obstacle. In this book (journal) there is no controversy and no obstacles (except for their airport troubles). It’s almost like a research paper: this is what I am going to prove, and prove it I will. Great! That’s awesome! But what does that leave the reader with? Nothing… except for maybe the desire to disprove it. That’s why I keep on picking up books – to see how an author will surprise me on the next page. Steinbeck didn’t surprise me at all; I already knew that “Russian people are people.”


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