Thursday, October 1, 2009

Books I Have Read & Recommend

Oil! by Upton Sinclair

Anyone who enjoys reading a vivid, first-hand account of Southern California life in the 1920's will love this novel. This is historical fiction at its finest.

Written in 1927, the plot follows the idealogical clash between an oil developer and his son.
Typical of Sinclair, there are undertones here of socialism and sympathy for the common worker. The novel basically shows how a self-made California oil baron, James Arnold Ross, and his son Bunny Ross are up against insurmountable odds in the oil business, with corruption all around, in the era of the Warren G. Harding/ Teapot Dome scandal. Sinclair's solution was dramatic: for him socialism was the answer; capitalism was too corrupt.

A film very loosely based on the novel was released under the title There Will Be Blood, starring Daniel Day Lewis. I found the movie to be perplexing, mostly boring and thoroughly dreary, although beautifully filmed. There is a visual clarity that would have been wonderful if the screen play had just followed the book. There is very little similarity between the characters in the movie and those in the novel.

Here's Upton Sinclair, writer, politician, journalistic crusader.
Oil! is a truly enjoyable, interesting and worthwhile novel.


Anonymous said...

I have read Oil! by U.S. and thoroughly enjoyed it from cover to cover. The ending, with the aging father and the scurilous second wife, was a bit disappointing, but I felt it was unfotunately believable.

Great selection.

Mr. S.L.

Post your bids in Comments! said...

I read Another Pamela by Sinclair many years ago, and remember that I liked his writing. I'll put Oil! on my TBR list.

Susan Ramey Cleveland said...

Haven't read OIL, but i did see "Let There Be Blood"--and there was. That's about all I remember about it was that it was very violent and bloody.
Why does Joanne's comments always start now with "Post your bids in comments"? That's weird.