By James Gilmore
Of Mice and Men might as well have been called “the ranch of broken dreams.” Presenting itself like a stage play in all but format, author John Steinbeck maintains Aristotle’s unity of place and time by focusing our attention on a microcosm inhabited by two men who share a single hollow dream. Ultimately, their dream collapses due to their own human weaknesses and those of their fellow men. The fundamental core of the story illustrates how human beings latch onto hope, real or imaginary (but in either case perceived as actual), as a goal to strive for, as a reason for living, and how and why reality seldom plays out like our dreams say they ought.
Of Mice and Men packs brutal emotional impact through realistic, layered characters and relationships in this structurally sound novella.
Readers will find Of Mice and Men much more accessible than Steinbeck’s far more brutal Grapes of Wrath, and should be required reading for any serious reader or storyteller.
Rating: 5 / 5
by James Gilmore
Other Voice, Other Rooms refers to shadows, memories—places people have been, voices that have sounded, ephemeral ghosts which burn brightly and then disappear, as if from a distant place and time. Once innocence is shed, you can never return to the past.
Rich, luxurious prose which reproduces in intimate the detail the cultural mores, mindset and isolation of the gothic rural American South. The main drive of the plot is the unraveling of the mystery of protagonist’s father’s identity, which ultimately leads to the loss of innocence and the realization that reality/life is a cruel and twisted master, of whom we only catch a sliver’s glimpse. Perhaps the most powerful strand of the story is the sub-theme regarding love and how it far more complex, and thus far more painful, than the youthful ideal of meet-love-marriage, as embodied by the character of Randolph.
Other Voices, Other Rooms should be considered a companion piece to To Kill a Mockingbird, by Harper Lee. Both are colorful, insightful penetrations into the gothic American South in which both Harper Lee and Truman Capote are depicted as childhood friends and protagonists.
Rating: 5 / 5