Laura's Reviews > The Log from the Sea of Cortez

The Log from the Sea of Cortez by John Steinbeck
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Apr 24, 2010

it was amazing
bookshelves: animals, nonfiction, sea
Read in April, 2010 — I own a copy

And with classes winding down, I have time to READ again!

Started in preparation for my own mini adventure sailing on the Sea of Cortez, finished on returning (it's hard to read on a rocking boat).

My only previous impression of Steinbeck was reading The Pearl back in 8th grade and utterly hating it. Which is why I was frustrated to learn he was the author of a primary work on a subject of interest.
However, after a fair bit of coaxing and having the introduction read aloud to me, I relented and read it myself. And wow, what a brilliant piece of writing.

Steinbeck recounts his voyage with biologist Ed Ricketts to survey the invertebrate life around the coastline of Baja California during WWII. While not heavy with description, his ability to capture the essence of the experience is amazing. I love his attitude toward travel and scientific study (how people always see what they expect to see and we need to go into things with fewer preconceptions and expectations if we are to experience a place). He tends toward philosophical tangents which I only sometimes agreed with, but for the most part the writing is sharp and often hilarious. I have never encountered a finer description of a malfunctioning piece of machinery in my life. I'm not an invertebrate person myself, so some his listings of what they found could become tedious, but I feel they were necessary to keep everything tied together. His qualitative biological observations were always interesting. He also has an incredible ability to describe people and events without actually giving any detail, and yet you know _exactly_ what happened.

I highly recommend this one to any of my animal or biologically-inclined friends out.
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