Cannery Row
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Cannery Row

3.98 of 5 stars 3.98  ·  rating details  ·  56,752 ratings  ·  2,741 reviews
Cannery Row is a book without much of a plot. Rather, it is an attempt to capture the feeling and people of a place, the cannery district of Monterey, California, which is populated by a mix of those down on their luck and those who choose for other reasons not to live "up the hill" in the more respectable area of town. The flow of the main plot is frequently interrupted b...more
Paperback, 181 pages
Published February 5th 2002 by Penguin Books (first published 1945)
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Community Reviews

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Jason
Man, I love Steinbeck. I love the simplicity of his characters and the humdrum feeling their lives evoke. I love the indigence of his settings and the candidness with which these characters accept their conditions. I love how quietly he frames his stories with comments on fatalism, while still revealing to us the potential for happiness that pushes at its surface, trying to elbow its way out. At its core, the Steinbeck novel want us to figure out how to embrace the cards life has dealt us. It kn...more
Ben
I first read this many years ago. Riddled with ADD, frozen by nervousness, and thrown-off by wack-ass hormones, I had trouble reading anything at the time, and this was no exception. A parable of my formerly wasted time on earth, I read it and got nothing out of it. Hell, I didn’t even remember I had read it until I started it (again) 10 days ago.

But oh did I appreciate it this go-round. Steinbeck got me to like the kind of people that, at first judgment, I would deem ignorant, annoying, or mayb...more
karen
how do i review cannery row? like all the steinbeck i have read, except the dead pony, of which i remember very little except not being too keen on it, it is saturated with these wonderful marginalized characters who are desperate and hopeless and yearning. but they are surviving. and there is so much beauty in the squalor. it reminds me in my feeling-parts of suttree, which is one of my all time favorite books. this book is full of such well-meaning ineptitude and many very serious things couch...more
Kim

I owe Mr. Steinbeck an apology. I am so shamed that I cannot even use the familiar 'John'. I have taken this beautiful story and mucked it up. I read about Lee Chong during a middle school basketball game, I learned of Dora Flood while riding the shuttle bus to work. I grew to love/hate Mack during a cheerleading competition filthy with Rihanna songs. I fell in love with Doc and Frankie and Darling while watching a traumatic brain injured patient freak out about his meds.

I am not worthy. This s...more
brian
20 pages in i immediately noticed the sherwood anderson influence and shot off an email to my friend xxx, urging him to read it on the flight to nyc. his girlfriend of many years just left him and i figured cannery row might inspire. his response was... um... deranged? check it:


"brian - had a hell of a day. almost got shot down on San Julien this afternoon. Bullet smoke so close I could taste it. Almost got arrested breaking up a Guatemalan knife fight, too. got robbed $40, too. But I bought som...more
Chloe
Aug 01, 2008 Chloe rated it 5 of 5 stars
Recommended to Chloe by: Mom
This is the first Steinbeck that I've attempted to read as an adult. We had some brief flirtations during my teen years but never really hooked up. I think it was probably a wise choice. Now we've found each other as adults and can really appreciate each other's complexities and I can tell that I'll likely be making sweet love to Johnny S. for years to come.

Cannery Row is a really brief read that features some of the most concise yet descriptive writing I've ever come across. Set in a small stre...more
Chrissie
One of Steinbeck’s best, but too short! Again Steinbeck draws a picture of a time and place that will remain a vivid portrait. This time it is a derelict area in Monterey, California. Probably the 1920s, although it is not said. There are T-Fords, it is on this I am guessing. Steinbeck was from Salinas, California, so he is writing about what he knows best: a cannery, the sea, its smells pungent, acrid and salt, the octopi and starfish and rattlesnakes and the rats, the sound of the surf, the fe...more
Teresa
May 10, 2012 Teresa rated it 4 of 5 stars  ·  review of another edition
Recommended to Teresa by: Jeniffer Almonte
This book was very different from what I thought it would be. I envisioned mostly reading about the work in the canneries (it's mentioned but not a focus) and I thought it would be depressing (until I read Jeniffer's review). Instead, it's a deceptively simple story (in terms of language) that evokes a range of emotions, humor and sadness all mixed up together, but it's never depressing.

At first I was reminded of Winesburg, Ohio in that its focus is on one community and the stories are more like...more
Kim

I finished listening to an audiobook edition of this novel this morning and since then I’ve been wondering how I’d find the words to say how much I love it. Steinbeck was not on my high school English syllabus, not on the syllabus when I was at university and for the past thirty years has been one of those writers who I knew I “should” read, without actually getting around to doing so. Finally, a trip to Monterey prompted me to acquire and listen to the audiobook. And now I think I have fallen i...more
Juliana
While the setting for this novel is somewhat bleak--an impoverished and ofttimes depressed coastal town in California--the characters are brought to life by everday exchanges and emotions the reader can relate to.

I knew after the first paragraph that this novel would be enjoyable because it is so well crafted. One would expect nothing less from John Steinbeck! I remember Steinbeck and Hemingway as the staples of my high school literary fare, as required by those who had seen more of the literary...more
Joe Valdez
Jun 14, 2014 Joe Valdez rated it 5 of 5 stars
Recommends it for: Tramps, transients, guttersnipes
Shelves: fiction-general
East of Eden is to Cannery Row as The Godfather is to Slacker. This sketch book wrapped up as a novel was the perfect complement to John Steinbeck's multigenerational family epic and reminded me of a scrappy independent movie that takes place on a few blocks of a town off the beaten path. No one character or relationship stands out. It's the sense of place that pervades.

Set in the mid-1940s at roughly the same time the novel was published, Cannery Row defies a time stamp. I got the impression t...more
Jessica
Apr 24, 2008 Jessica rated it 5 of 5 stars
Recommended to Jessica by: Annette
“Cannery Row in Monterey in California is a poem, a stink, a grating noise, a quality of light, a tone, a habit, a nostalgia, a dream. Cannery Row is the gathered and scattered, tin and iron and rust and splintered wood, chipped pavement and weedy lots and junk heaps, sardine canneries of corrugated iron, honky tonks, restaurants and whore houses, and little crowded groceries, and laboratories and flophouses.”

Cannery Row is even more than that—it’s people. It’s Lee Chong and Dora and Mack and th...more
Carac Allison
Steinbeck’s great literary achievements were “The Grapes of Wrath” and “East of Eden”. I love those amazing books. But “Cannery Row” has always held a special place in my heart. Each and every word is true. The connected stories are funny and sad and heart-achingly beautiful.

The characters are wonderful.

Mack is a man who has decided he doesn’t want to play any of the roles society demands of men. He doesn’t want to be a worker, a husband or a father. He has opted out of the struggle that has mad...more
Stian
Steinbeck's prose is so pleasant and calming. It has almost a tranquilizing effect. I feel as if I can liken it to a harmonic and well-played game of chess. Things just flow very naturally from the start, and before you know it, it's over -- and if it is a good game, you look back at it and think, "well, that was nice!"

I get much of the same feelings reading Steinbeck, and especially in this work. The complex interrelations between people are made simple and beautiful. People existing side by s...more
Sarah
My dad has been a truck driver since I was born and he hates it. He has spent oh-so-many hours in his truck thinking about what he would do if he won the lottery and a shade few less telling us what he's come up with. He buys a couple a week with his numbers, which include our birthdays, of course. I have always been a lottery talk scoffer, and my dad says, "It's okay--if you won, the money would be gone in five minutes to a hand full of ragamuffins."

I don't know about that, but I do know why h...more
Nightshade
Jul 24, 2008 Nightshade rated it 1 of 5 stars
Recommends it for: nobody
I did NOT NOT NOT NOT NOT like this book. It has no plot and is very random and confusing. I had to read it for my summer book report, and I found the characters' lives hard to follow because the book jumped around a lot. There are also random, insignificant events thrown in randomly.
D.R. Haney
Steinbeck is one of those writers I never bothered to read. I'm put off by book titles that allude to the Bible, and I was never wowed by Tom Joad's monologue at the end of the film version of The Grapes of Wrath. It was just so damned noble. "I'll be there, Ma." I seriously doubt it.

A few weeks ago, I interviewed a TV actor for a new magazine in New York. He's a nice kid, and during the interview, I asked him to name his favorite writers, and among them was Steinbeck. It was embarrassing to ad...more
Shovelmonkey1
I had no real expectations of this book when I picked it up - it was just the next one that came to hand and this was the first John Steinbeck book I ever read. My Grandfather was not a man who proffered many words of wisdom. I suspect this was because he did not like giving anything away for free. But he always said that Steinbeck was the greatest writer who ever lived and that Constable was the greatest artist. When I was a small child I always listened to these proclamations with some confusi...more
E.
May 02, 2007 E. rated it 5 of 5 stars
Recommends it for: Daydreamers who like booze
You know how some books remind of a certain place or time in your life but generally do so with a little bit of a rose shaded tint?

Well Cannary Row reminds me of a time that never really existed in my life but should have cause it would have been freakin great.

I can smell Northern California's coast when the title of this book crosses my mind. I can see dark cold water and washed out, cooly inviting beach. I can taste damp cigarette's and beer from quart jugs, beach fires and the mix of diesel...more
Brad
I find it difficult to remember Cannery Row after over twenty years distance (I read it in high school, although it wasn't assigned. I enjoyed Of Mice and Men so much I had to keep reading), but I do envision Mack walking past the sardine factories as vividly as if I read it this morning.

The plot details, the way all the supporting characters linked up, even who Mack and the boys were doing their "thing" for (hell...I can't even remember what "thing" they were doing) are gone. I've lost my acces...more
Melanie
I can't help but think that Steinbeck had an absolute ball writing these energetic, whimsical vignettes. There are many passages that had me in stitches and some so clever and sharp that I wanted to note them down, chapter 2 might be the most perfect chapter I've ever read and yet it is barely two pages long.

This author is magic, from the epic East of Eden to this idiosyncratic babble of characters, I can only wonder what else he can conjure.
Lisbeth Solberg
"I and the boys" invite you to the party.
Ana
Why did I take this book of my library's shelf? First of all, it's Steinbeck. There's no book of his that I didn't like up to this point. Second of all, he got a Nobel for literature after writing this one. That's one good reason for which to read anyone, Not just because they won a Nobel and everything they did must therefore be amazing, but because you might find interesting things and learn from them things you wouldn't get elsewhere.

Cannery Row struck from the beginning as a book that has...more
Diane S.
Steinbeck's writing is a wonder, he is the master of word usage, turn of a phrase and just downright fantastic writing. Cannery Row, by the time one is done with this novel they have a clear and concise picture of the cannery business, the denizens who make up the populace of the row and even the life and activity in a tide pool. Everything is imbibed with a sense of wonder, humor and a wisdom that is not often enough conveyed in writing. Unbelievable in such a short novel and I am in awe of thi...more
Fewlas
” Il Vicolo Cannery a Monterey in California è un poema, un fetore, un rumore irritante, una qualità della luce, un tono, un'abitudine, una nostalgia, un sogno. Raccolti e sparpagliati nel Vicolo Cannery stanno scatole di latta e ferro e legno scheggiato, marciapiedi in disordine e terreni invasi da erbacce e mucchi di rifiuti, stabilimenti dove inscatolano le sardine coperti di ferro ondulato, balli pubblici, ristoranti e bordelli, e piccole drogherie zeppe, e laboratori e asili notturni. I suo...more
Sunny in Wonderland
Time for an unconventional review. Steinbeck isn't conventional, so why should I be? So, I'm making one of those silly anonymous high school surveys like the ones that would get passed around in sex ed class and then would migrate to study hall before some lame-ass teacher intercepted it and made an example out of somebody...

Favorite Character and Why: Dora the whorehouse madam. She has orange hair, and she's a bad-ass, and at the beginning kind of reminded me of Dolly Parton's character in that...more
BrokenTune [Disclaimer: My opinion is not paid for by Amazon.]
I watched the film version of On the Road the other night, and while watching it I couldn’t help but compare Sal Paradise, Dean Moriarity and their fellow beats to the inhabitants of Cannery Row, more specifically Mack and the boys from the Palace Flophouse.

That is, there aren’t that many similarities but it struck me that both books deal with the stories of characters who have an innate longing for freedom, individuality and a break away from conventional society. Both are written with a pinch...more
Clark
I'm not entirely sure why this is my favorite book. I suppose that I like stories about a particular place and the way that it is briefly defined by the characters that exist within that place. After all, I don't think that the places that I have lived in my life are inherently interesting, but they become fascinating because I can place them in the context of the characters that I knew, the things that I did and the way that I stretched out in them and lazed about. The small, everyday things ma...more
Jim
Jul 22, 2014 Jim rated it 4 of 5 stars
Shelves: fiction
Steinbeck loved his bums---the layabouts, scrappers, schemers, drunks---and this book, basically a collection of sketches describing a California fish cannery community during the Depression, revolves around five of them and their relationship to the local Chinese store owner, a sea-animal specimen purveyor, and neighborhood brothel. Don't look for some plot-driven narrative; this is more like an impressionist painting, capturing in sweeping strokes a sense of community, of acceptance and unders...more
Matthew
Sometimes I think the contemporary reader (and here I'm speaking mainly for myself) has grown too accustomed to the varied forms modern storytelling can take. My first instinct is to wish I could travel back to a time when the kind of discordant shifts Steinbeck used in this novel were still considered fresh. I want to read this book when it was first published, to see if it would reveal something earsh-shattering about the structure of a novel. But even Cannery Row, where Steinbeck presents a s...more
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John Steinbeck III was an American writer. He wrote the Pulitzer Prize-winning novel The Grapes of Wrath, published in 1939 and the novella Of Mice and Men, published in 1937. In all, he wrote twenty-five books, including sixteen novels, six non-fiction books and several collections of short stories.

In 1962 Steinbeck received the Nobel Prize for Literature.

Steinbeck grew up in the Salinas Valley...more
More about John Steinbeck...
Of Mice and Men The Grapes of Wrath East of Eden The Pearl Travels with Charley: In Search of America

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“It has always seemed strange to me...The things we admire in men, kindness and generosity, openness, honesty, understanding and feeling, are the concomitants of failure in our system. And those traits we detest, sharpness, greed, acquisitiveness, meanness, egotism and self-interest, are the traits of success. And while men admire the quality of the first they love the produce of the second.” 610 likes
“Being at ease with himself put him at ease with the world.” 94 likes
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