Sunday, October 3, 2010
In the Shadow of the Cypress by Thomas Steinbeck
With some books you can tell after reading the first few lines that they are going to be good. This was not one of them - quite the opposite in fact. As I read In the Shadow of the Cypress I had to keep encouraging myself to keep reading. I had to keep telling myself, since I was reviewing it; I needed to finish it in order to give an accurate review. With that said, I can say with the utmost confidence and sincerity that In the Shadow of the Cypress is one of the worst books I have ever read.
Every aspect of this book is painfully, gut-wrenchingly, eye-stabbingly boring. The dialog, the narration, the story, everything was bad. In fact the only positive I can think of is that, thankfully, it’s less than 250 pages. This book is basically a poor effort at a Dan Brown-esque mystery about the Chinese discovering America before Christopher Columbus. It sounded like a very interesting premise and coupled with the recommendation by a Random House editor that Thomas Steinbeck wrote like his father (John Steinbeck; Of Mice and Men, Grapes of Wrath, Cannery Row, etc.) I was incredibly excited to read this book.
What I got instead was a ‘mystery’ that required very little thought and a book that read like a final paper of a freshmen community college creative writing course. Thomas Steinbeck seems to be an author who loves his extensive vocabulary more than putting together a quality story. It is very clear from reading this book that he made several trips to his ancient Oxford thesaurus to pick unnecessarily academic words and had a checklist that included the task of writing at least four to five descriptive words before every noun or verb.
After the arduous task of reading the book I have come away with three conclusions. One, Thomas Steinbeck is not his father. Two, Thomas Steinbeck is probably only a published author because his last name is Steinbeck. Three, you should stay far, far away from reading this book.