Between giving tours of Rome, Pompeii and Tuscany and writing a script for my tour company, I only had time to finish two books last month. I DID manage to read a handful of stories by M. R. James and H. P. Lovecraft as well as the latest issue of Pulp Literature. Anyway, April's shelf consisted of...
John Steinbeck - The Grapes of Wrath
They never gave us Grapes in high school. Then again, they didn't have very high expectations for us. I love Steinbeck. I love his ability to draw characters and paint scenes that feel so undeniably real, and his knack for making the most shocking acts of his protagonists seem perfectly natural. The most common gripe I hear about Grapes is that it's too slow. Jesus Christ, it's about Depression-era migrant workers making their way out of the Dust Bowl. What the hell were you expecting, car chases?
Gillian Darley - Vesuvius
Interesting look at Europe's most dangerous volcano. Darley not only covers its geologic history and the eruption that destroyed Pompeii, but its impact on Italy's cultural landscape. Both Goethe and the Shelleys visited Vesuvius, prompting Goethe to write Faust and Shelley to write Prometheus Unbound. I was intrigued by how the volcano became a symbol of political upheaval after Spartacus' gang of renegade slaves defeated a Roman army at its base.