Wednesday, April 2, 2008

The Good Earth and Postmortem! Or, It's Cool to Mix Up Your Genres.

Over break I finished reading the Pearl S. Buck classic *The Good Earth*. I've been loving Chinese-related literature for the past few years, so it was only a matter of time before I read this one. It's the story of Wang Lung, a poor Chinese peasant who relies on the "good earth" for everything: his house, his food, and his work. He makes a special plea for a wife to the local rich family, and is given a servant woman named O-Lan. *The Good Earth* is the story of Wang Lung and his family throughout their multi-generational transition from poor farmers to wealthy city dwellers. It examines the importance of land and the inevitability of self-destruction as one moves away from valuing and respecting the land to valuing money, high society, and the acquisition of material possessions. My only problem with the novel is its lack of redeeming female characters. Wang Lung's wife O-Lan is regularly described as having "dull eyes" and having the dim intelligence of a farm animal. The rest of the women are lazy, greedy, slothlike, or shrill nags. On the other hand, there really aren't many redeeming male characters, either! So, in spite of a lack of likeable characters (or perhaps because of?), *The Good Earth* is a fascinating, riveting read and and I give it
4 out of 4 bananas.
So after *The Good Earth*, I was in need of a good, fast-paced, Spring Break read. I turned to Patricia Cornwall's *Postmortem* ,recommended to me by Mrs. Cabaj. It was just what the Spring Break doctor ordered! I whiled away my vacation hours reading about Medical Examiner Kay Scarpetta, who ended up being instrumental to the capture of a dangerous serial killer. I finished it last night and was cringing as I turned the pages of the book's final scenes. Scary and fun, for sure! Sometimes you just need a little brain candy, you know? Thanks, Mrs. Cabaj!

3 out of 4 bananas.

No comments: