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The Cotton-Pickers

4.05  ·  Rating details ·  179 ratings  ·  22 reviews
The background of The Cotton-Pickers, set in Mexico in the 1920s, is the struggle of the emerging trade unions to end the exploitation of hungry laborers. Gales, a laconic American drifter, turns his hand to anything for a meal and a flea-bitten bunk--he works on a cotton plantation, in an oil field, in a bakery, as a cowboy for a North American ranch owner. Opposing ...more
Paperback, 207 pages
Published February 1st 1995 by Ivan R. Dee Publisher (first published 1927)
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Average rating 4.05  · 
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tENTATIVELY, cONVENIENCE
Feb 15, 2009 rated it it was amazing
Recommends it for: people who need hope
Ahh.. What a pleasure it is to give this bk a good review! The 1st bk I read of Traven's was probably "The Death Ship" - wch details the slow decay of a sailor's life as a result of facets of 'modern' life that the author & I abhor in common - like nationalistic borders & parasitic capitalism (is there any other kind?). I loved "The Death Ship" but it started out humorous & turned increasingly grim as the bk made its point clearer & clearer. Then I think I read 2 of the 6 "Jungle ...more
Andrea
Feb 08, 2014 rated it it was amazing
A series of sketches, a slice of life south of the border on subsistence and less than subsistence wages, from cotton-picking to baking to a cattle drive...I've never read anything like this. It feels entirely autobiographical, a white man and Wobbly down and out and willing to do anything to keep body and soul together, self-reflective enough on race and class and labour to make it good rather than unbearable.
Corto
Sep 10, 2018 rated it really liked it
This is kind of a tough one for me to review. There was no plot. There were parts of this novel that were plodding. There were parts of this novel that were, more or less, just an outward polemic on the harsh nature of the relationship between people and capitalism. However...there were parts of this novel that were pure literary brilliance - small, well written anecdotes and episodes that left me intrigued and wanting more. So...I give it 4/5. Not as good as "The Death Ship", but I'm not ...more
Ulises Morales
Nov 10, 2015 rated it really liked it
What I like about his books is the honesty in which he portrays characters, never exaggerating nor lacking any necessary details. Sentimental where it has to bee and sometimes raw where it is needed.
Carrie
Jan 04, 2012 rated it really liked it
I agree with the other reviewer that the novel is structured quite oddly. The narrator, Gales, appears to have a sixth sense as he narrates his way through most of the situations by relating stories of the people he meets in his travels. How would he know? He wouldn't--it's just Traven's way of getting the message across, and the message here is: a fair day's work for a fair day's pay. The narrator travels around Mexico doing odd jobs and suffering bosses who like him or don't. He meets some ...more
Michael
May 30, 2016 rated it really liked it
Another book about a rambling man, back in B. Traven's old Mexican stomping grounds. This one's not as depressing as The Death Ship. Combines the aimlessness of Factotum with social commentary like Conrad or Sinclair. Not quite as good as Sierra Madre. The cattle drive at the end was a pretty good part but felt a little tacked-on. Traven tells more stories per page than any other writer--every other line is a new story. Even minor characters get the full treatment.
This is a quick read that found
...more
Roberta
I have a newfound respect for... EGGS!
Olga Santillán
Jul 25, 2019 rated it it was amazing
Soy fan de este autor desde hace mucho gracias a mi papá, este es un libro poco conocido del autor, creo que el primero. Como los demás que he leído de él, retrata la vida de un México post revolucionario, puedes reconocer características del pueblo mexicano que han trascendido las décadas, también se puede conocer más sobre el día a día de las personas comunes de esa época. Un México en el que si bien no todo era perfecto, al menos todavía tenía un vínculo con la naturaleza y las raíces de los ...more
Liedzeit
Farbig, aber auch nicht umwerfend spannend. Eigentlich eher eine Sammlung von Geschichten oder Szenen. Da sind mir die blassen Erinnerungen an die alte Vorabendserie lieber. 7/10
Christian Schwoerke
I was enthralled with novel when I first read it in 1970, marveling that the hard life of Gales and his poor and itinerant mates could be represented with such equanimity, that for many poverty and hard work were just facts of life that didn’t bear over-thinking or pathos. Also marvelous in Gale’s straightforward presentation of his hardships was a laid-back exuberance, which enabled him to withstand any set of present circumstances with the thought that he could move on and attempt something ...more
Benjamin Torres
Jan 26, 2017 rated it really liked it
A few months ago I went to an exhibition called B. TRAVEN in the "Museo de Arte Moderno" in Mexico city, and I found it very interesting because although I had heard about this writer, I had never read any of his books, and had no idea about the mysterious and exciting life he led.
After this exhibition, I decided to read this, his first novel and was very pleased with the narrative and intrigued to discover, a foreigner’s point of view of the situation of my own country, after the Mexican
...more
Carrie
Feb 04, 2016 rated it really liked it
I agree with the other reviewer that the novel is structured quite oddly. The narrator, Gales, appears to have a sixth sense as he narrates his way through most of the situations by relating stories of the people he meets in his travels. How would he know? He wouldn't--it's just Traven's way of getting the message across, and the message here is: a fair day's work for a fair day's pay. The narrator travels around Mexico doing odd jobs and suffering bosses who like him or don't. He meets some ...more
Almir Olovcic
Jul 15, 2015 rated it it was amazing
Written in 1927, this book (at least for me) is prediction of Great depression 2 years after and describes fight of ordinary man against capitalism. Great book that can also be read as an political pamphlet which stands for a rights of ordinary people, unemployed, poor, union formations, etc. Little is known about B.Traven, but reading his books it can easily be imagined that he was a revolutionary and libertarian who fought (through his works and probably personally involving) against ...more
David Koblos
Dec 18, 2012 rated it really liked it
Shelves: culture
Interesting! Mexico just after the revolution from the point of view of a foreign drifter / laborer, illustrating life as he works different jobs in a variety of settings. The tone is very socialistic, though not unreasonably so. At times he explains the reasonings of his bosses, expands on the workings of the labor unions, and even adopts a critical stance toward his fellow laborers. His true neutrality, however, is best expressed by his accepting each one of his fellow humans purely the way ...more
Vincent
Jul 28, 2013 rated it really liked it
This Bruno guy is So interesting and his novelistic look into workers rights and the power of unionization in mid 20th century America-Mexico is great fun.
It's told around the travels and struggles of Gales, who knocks around farms and a bakery in search of a paycheck.
People compare Traven to Steinbeck and I agree. A great story, cast of characters and larger meaningful searching all make a worthwhile read.
Aleksandar Trapara
I like how the book is not exactly about cotton pickers and how it takes unpredictable turns. It kind of reminded me of that unconnected part in Sierra Madre near the beginning when the main protagonist went to work on an oil platform, but then Traven abruptly changed his mind about the course of the story and sent him back home. I read the last part as a social allegory. But maybe I'm reading too much into it, maybe it's only about cows. Nevertheless, you learn a lot from it.
jeremy
Jun 14, 2008 rated it liked it
Shelves: translation, fiction
traven is a fantastic storyteller, though i do not think this is his strongest effort. while his class sympathies are as evident here as in his other works, the cotton-pickers lacks some of the passion that pervades his other novels. the story, however, does fairly capture the milieu of the migrant/itinerant farm worker, and the inequalities that exist in agrarian cultures.
Daniel
Jan 01, 2009 rated it really liked it
Traven structures his novels in this odd way. It's as if he goes from one tall tale to the next. This was is connected by labor and union issues, going from one job to the next. It doesn't build like a personality-driven novel; more like Brecht. Well worth it.
Terragyrl3
Aug 07, 2014 rated it really liked it
The author of this book also wrote the novel Treasure of the Sierra Madre. One of my favorite movies of all time!
Charles Baudelaire
Nov 12, 2007 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: classic, fav-novel
MARXIST RAIDERS OF THE LOST ARK.
Leonard Pierce
May 11, 2008 rated it liked it
Shelves: fiction
Very much in the same vein of Traven's "Death Ship", even sharing some characters, but much more grim and tragic, less funny, and a bit more slight, without the astonishing, slangy prose.
A.p. Eberhart
rated it it was amazing
Mar 23, 2011
Kirsten Elvers
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Nov 18, 2012
Riley
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Dec 08, 2012
Boletin
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Dec 10, 2011
Ján Šifra
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Apr 03, 2019
Brynn Mackyntyree
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Jul 20, 2012
Neil Skinner
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Aug 29, 2013
Arlian
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Jun 03, 2012
Steven Phelps
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Jun 17, 2013
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B. Traven (February, 1882? – March 26, 1969?) was the pen name of a German novelist, whose real name, nationality, date and place of birth and details of biography are all subject to dispute. A rare certainty is that B. Traven lived much of his life in Mexico, where the majority of his fiction is also set—including his best-known work, The Treasure of the Sierra Madre (1927), which was adapted as ...more