The Road to Hell is Paved With Good Intentions

Pastures of Heaven by John Steinbeck; 1932; $9.95; 207 pages; Penguin Books, New York, NY; 0-14-018748-0; purchased from; 1/27/15-1/29/15

The Munroe family is continually trying to help the other families in their community of Pastures of Heaven, however it usually doesn’t end well.  Steinbeck has situated a valley called the Pastures of Heaven near Carmel Valley, California and tells the stories of those who have settled there.  They are a diverse bunch of people who all have different reasons for settling there, temperaments that range from angelic to devilish.  It is an interesting collection of 12 stories of the people of the valley.


Did I enjoy it?  Yes I am glad any time that I can read John Steinbeck.  Thanks, Larry for nominating this for the Corner Reading Society.

What is up with the title of the review?  There is a family in the Pastures of Heaven that often times think they are helping when they are actually making things worse.

From grandpa to me

The Hour of Lead by Bruce Holbert; 2014; $25.00; 307 pages; Counterpoint, Berkeley, CA; 978-1-61902-292-8; Fiction; provided by the authors agent for review; 6/19/14-6/22/14

In a story that begins in 1918 and goes until the late 50, Bruce Holbert gives life to three people in Washington states Palouse country.  These aren’t characters these are fully formed people we come to know and care about.  Each of them is a misfit in some way, due to heartache, upbringing or some character defect or a combination of all three.  Matt Lawson suffers a loss in eighth grade that eats at him the rest of his life, Wendy suffers a heartache at the hands of Matt and Lucky Jefferson was brought up with a mentally unstable Mother and each of these affected the others in some way.  Each of them does penance in their own way,  as their lives intersect multiple times in the 40 years the book traverses.  As one way of life wanes and another comes to prominence each of the people must find a way to navigate that change.  As in life the only constant in life is change.

Did I like it?  Like Dancing to Almendra this book is beautifully and wonderfully written.  It too is achingly beautiful.  Each sentence is carefully constructed to ensure maximum effectiveness.  Bruce Holbert is an author that could bring a random selection of words to beautiful life if you gave him a couple of days.


What is with the title of the review?  The story starts when my grandfathers were 10 and ends around the time I was born, 40 years later.