Ken-ichi's Reviews > The Log from the Sea of Cortez

The Log from the Sea of Cortez by John Steinbeck
Rate this book
Clear rating

's review
Feb 02, 2009

it was amazing
bookshelves: escape, learning, travel, nature, naturalism, favorites

I'm not sure I've ever read another book that was so full of life, in every sense of the word. Steinbeck and Ricketts portray an existence and a philosophy that seem impossibly engaged, impossibly full, and it isn't long before you're there on the boat beside them, a can of beer in one hand and a dip net in the other, peering into blue shallows in search of strange and beautiful creatures.

It's bohemian (two guys charter a boat to go tidepooling around the Gulf of California, mostly for the hell of it), but rigorous (specimens are tediously labeled, filed, described). Despite one of them being a professional in the strictest sense, both Ricketts and Steinbeck are the best kind of amateurs, seeking knowledge and adventure for the pure joy and love they find in them. They're driven by a mission to describe the fauna of a relatively unexplored region, but that drive never consumes or defines them, or keeps them from swilling beer and philosophizing. Their humor and presence in their journey brought as much pleasure to read and inhabit as any escapist fantasy I can imagine.

The introduction breaks that fantasy a bit, describing how Steinbeck developed the book from journals that were not his own, and the complete omission of Steinbeck's wife Carol, who also sailed with them. Then again, the intro and Steinbeck's euology to Ricketts provide a realistic backdrop that grounds and encapsulates the joy of the trip, making it seem more attainable, and more true. You can never live aboard the Western Flyer, but you can always seek those kinds of moments.
14 likes · flag

Sign into Goodreads to see if any of your friends have read The Log from the Sea of Cortez.
Sign In »

Reading Progress

February 2, 2009 – Shelved
March 9, 2009 –
page 35
12.15% "So far so awesome. I really need to make some time for this. Too bad we just lost an hour..."
March 11, 2009 –
page 69
23.96% "Favorite character so far: Sea Cow"
March 12, 2009 –
page 86
March 18, 2009 –
page 155
March 19, 2009 –
page 185
March 24, 2009 –
page 223
Started Reading
March 25, 2009 – Finished Reading
April 23, 2009 – Shelved as: learning
April 23, 2009 – Shelved as: escape
January 28, 2010 – Shelved as: travel
January 28, 2010 – Shelved as: nature
January 28, 2010 – Shelved as: naturalism
January 26, 2011 – Shelved as: favorites

Comments (showing 1-2 of 2) (2 new)

dateDown arrow    newest »

message 1: by Brad (new)

Brad Uy do you like steinbeck's outline of non-teleological thinking?

helps me navigate life's difficulties sometimes.


Ken-ichi I did, but honestly it won't stick with me (don't even think I could explain it to someone now, just weeks after reading it). As with the rest of my memory, the only lasting impressions will be the animals.

back to top