Lisa's Reviews > The Red Pony

The Red Pony by John Steinbeck
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Mar 05, 2012

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bookshelves: classic, novella, animals
Read from March 05 to 06, 2012

I found this on the sale shelf of a used book store, expecting a nice story about a boy and his red pony. The small blurb above the title even states, "The moving and beautiful story of a boy, a sorrel colt and the sun-drenched California earth". Perfect read while on vacation in sun-drenched California! Nope. This book should be titled 'The Red Pony and other short stories' because The Red Pony only took up 35 pages and the rest is other stories. And, what the heck was I thinking? This is Steinbeck! Sure he's a great writer and he captures the magic of Monterey, Salinas and surrounding areas in California. But his writing can be depressing so not a good read for vacations.

After surviving the end of The Red Pony (WHAT?!? This is the ending?!? You've got to be kidding me! sums up my reaction), I was hoping the next story, 'The Great Mountains' and the return of the boy Jody would calm me down, perhaps a nice follow-up but nope. The Great Mountains tells a story about an old man Gitano who walks to the ranch from Monterey. Just shows up saying "I am Gitano and I have come back". Jody's parents get to deal with this seemingly crazy guy. It's a nice quirky story but I still feel haunted by The Red Pony story. Will I ever recover?

The next short story is titled 'The Promise', another horse story. Will Billy Buck redeem himself in Jody's eyes? Oh man... I don't want to give anything away because it is a short story and if I say anything it could spoil The Red Pony if you hadn't already read it. But I do want to holler, "Steinbeck, how can you just end it like this?!? You're just MEAN!" His endings are worse than cliffhangers with no promise of a sequel.

'The Leader of the People' tells of Jody's grandfather's visit. It was refreshing to read that some things never change. Reading Jody's dad, Carl Tiflin's reaction to his father-in-law's visit and having to listen to the same old stories over and over, was funny, and sad.

The last story, 'Junius Maltby' was interesting. It had nothing to do with Jody and his family and was separated by a title cover of its own. At first, I wasn't liking the characters but then got drawn in and wanted more. Damn, another abrupt ending! Did I hear Steinbeck chuckling as I tossed the book down in frustration?
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