Christopher Gonzalez's Reviews > The Pastures of Heaven

The Pastures of Heaven by John Steinbeck
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's review
May 26, 07

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Recommended for: Steinbeck fans, short story enthusiasts
Read in May, 2007

This short story cycle was penned by Steinbeck early in his career. All the stories are connected by the Munroe family and the fact that they take place in a part of California's Salinas Valley Steinbeck called "Las Pasturas del Cielo," hence the title. The stories themselves are all about very down to earth people that exist in this part of California in order to shape the experience of one another. My personal favorites are stories IV--"Tularecito," about a mentally and physically handicapped little boy who cannot fit into his community despite the love of his guardian, VII--"The Enchilada Sisters," about two sisters who can't seem to make a profit on their cooking but find no problem in satisfying their male customers in other ways so long as the two women ask the Virgin for forgiveness, VIII--"Molly Morgan's Father," about a new teacher who interviews for a position while remembering her father and his strange disappearance, IX--"Executions," about a fowl executioner whose best friend is the warden at San Quentin, and X--"The Vermont Room," about a man who struggles to overcome the ghosts of his overbearing, oppressive parents.

The collection shows a tremendously talented but young writer and all the foibles that go along with it. Nevertheless, the collection is quite accomplished. It presages what Steinbeck will later do in works such as Tortilla Flat and The Grapes of Wrath. If you enjoy Steinbeck's major works or have never read him before, this will add nicely to your collection. Having read James Joyce's Dubliners and understanding that his cycle becomes more rewarding the more you read it, it seems to me The Pastures of Heaven is the same. I just finished this Steinbeck collection and am looking forward to making all the connections between the stories.

Please note: the titles for each story above that you find in quotation marks are arbitrary titles I have given. In the collection you will only find the roman numerals.
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