pinknantucket's Reviews > Cannery Row

Cannery Row by John Steinbeck
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Jul 06, 2010

it was amazing
bookshelves: ms-readathon-2010

In high school we had to read 'Of Mice and Men' and 'The Pearl' by Steinbeck. I don't remember particularly disliking them (though I do vaguely remember getting pretty sick of 'The Pearl') but I've never been at all enthusiastic about reading more Steinbeck since then.

So I thought 'enough is enough, let bygones be bygones' and bought the very nicely priced Penguin edition pictured above.

'Cannery Row' is marvellous. Steinbeck's language is beautiful, his skill at capturing moods heartbreaking. How can you not sigh at a description of a woman 'as soft as a mouse's belly'? (OK maybe you wouldn't if you're really not keen on mice, but believe me, they're bellies are pretty soft. Kootchie koo!).

It's kind of one of those books where everything and nothing happens. It paints the lives of some residents of a fishing town in California - Mack and his mates, who live from hand to mouth in the 'Palace Flophouse', Doc, who collects and sells animal specimens (Doc is a lovely man but I really did feel sorry for all those frogs and octopi and tomcats; it's a wonder California has any wildlife left at all) and hears music in his head, Dora who runs the local brothel and Lee Chong who runs the Tardis-like local store.

Would I have liked it as a teenager? I mightn't have hated it, but I don't think I would have 'got it'. I think it's more meditative than my brain was capable of comprehending back then. I don't think I would have fully understood the subtleties of the Steinbeck's characters. It's a bit similar to how a feel about the Bach solo cello suites - for the most part, wasted on the young. (Ohhh I'm so old and wise...). There isn't enough action, too few explosions.

I am so idolising John Steinbeck right now. I might even re-read 'The Pearl'!
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message 1: by Tim (new)

Tim Howard This sounds good. My only experience of Steinbeck was the obligatory school read through Of Mice and Men and later his odd debut novel, Cup of Gold. (The latter is about pirates!)

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