brian 's Reviews > The Pearl

The Pearl by John Steinbeck
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goodreads david writes this: I'm convinced that the general besmirchers of Steinbeck are fucktards, asswads, and vibrating pustules.

it's nice as a reader (bad, i guess, as a reviewer) when a writer achieves can-do-no-wrong status. reading steinbeck i feel less distance between the writer -> his words -> myself than with nearly any other writer. his prose stylings can't touch his contemporaries, his structure and pacing can be sloppy, he's sentimental, preachy, overly didactic, and his themes arrive with the subtlety of a sledgehammer to the kneecaps.

but who gives a shit? i'm not grading a paper. he gets an A+ and a gold star at the top of his paper for cannery row, possibly the most complete and interesting fictional world i've encountered; travels with charley, my all-time favorite travelogue; and grapes of wrath, a flawed but incredibly moving masterpiece.

and the pearl... a clumsy and sweet fable, overwrought and obvious -- definitely a lesser work. but it's steinbeck writing and he's filled with such love for mankind, wonder at nature, and joy at the strange eccentric and eclectic that, even if upon reading the remainder of his writings i find the literary equivalent of sex with goodreads david... steinbeck remains untouchable.
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Reading Progress

Finished Reading
August 2, 2009 – Shelved

Comments Showing 1-21 of 21 (21 new)

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message 1: by karen (new)

karen i never bothered with the pearl, although i love steinbeck. i think i will give it a pass.


message 2: by [deleted user] (last edited Aug 03, 2009 08:51AM) (new)

The literary equivalent of sex with Goodreads David just so happens to be the Instruction Booklet for IRS Form 1099-MISC. In both cases, there's a lot of crying afterward.

I do love Steinbeck in the same way (but not to the same obsessive, sociopathic degree) that I love Salinger. Their writings are intimate, compassionate, and emotionally relevant to me; and you're right... it doesn't matter how good or bad a particular work is -- take Seymour: An Introduction as a lesser example -- it's still like spending time with an old friend. No matter how much I love the writing of Proust and Dostoevsky, it's not the same thing; they satisfy other needs...

I just don't understand why Sarah kept this guy a secret for so fucking long.


message 3: by brian (last edited Aug 03, 2009 08:50AM) (new) - rated it 3 stars

brian   karen: yeah, it's not really worth reading.
i was considering two stars but i didn't necessarily think it was bad... just kinda so-so... y'know?

i was surprised to see the pearl included as part of these new editions with travels, cannery, charley, grapes, and eden. i guess b/c it's a childhood classic? if that's the criteria, i would've gone w/the red pony.

yes, david! well put. tolstoy and genet and melville might be amongst my favorite writers but steinbeck is certainly the more 'intimate, compassionate, and emotionally relevant to me'

and yes. it's depressing to admit, but it hadda be pure greed, selfishness, and snobbery behind sarah's withholding. and she calls herself a good christian?


message 4: by karen (new)

karen wayward bus is my all-time favorite- i still have to read cannery row, actually. ive only read 6; i always like to "save" books by authors i like, in case i ever need a fix. even with young robust authors, just in case.


brian   omfg! karen! read cannery row. it's shit-your-pants good. truly!
do it! wayward bus looks pretty amazing, too. i've gotta get my hands on that.


message 6: by karen (new)

karen but the savings! its just how i do. there are books i really want to read, but i wont let myself because its the last one! i only saved three david foster wallace stories and now i am fucked. ive already lapsed and shot my cormac mccarthy wad. but it is summer of classix... i was going to read sweet thursday, if i had time apres proust. which i doubt i will because class ends tomorrow but new class starts on the 31st. summer of classix was too brief and there was too much reading for my class to get everything in that i wanted. but maybe ill do cannery row instead of the orwell.


brian   sweet thursday is the sequel to cannery so don't do it first!
and cannery is short! you can do it and the orwell. which orwell, btw?

as soon as i finish the new pynchon i'm launching into the proust. all seven of 'em! are you gonna do 'em all? if so, i'll be there in the shit (well, really the very civilized tea parties and madeleines) with you.


message 8: by [deleted user] (new)

Sweet Thursday is a follow-up to Cannery Row, so you gotta read that one, first.

Says Montambo.


message 9: by karen (new)

karen oh hahah! i guess that settles it. cannery row is first. shouldve done my research. i was going to read down and out in paris and london. but that can wait. its waited this long. as for proust, i read the first one in june, then i thought i would do two in a row, maybe a pause... then the rest? i havent come up with an action plan yet. i was going to start budding grove on tuesday, my last day of class. celebrate with proust and all.


message 10: by Donna (last edited Aug 03, 2009 09:22AM) (new)

Donna Kirk i've tried grapes of wrath, recently. i don't get it. the styling makes me wary. i am trying to push through, though. i want to get moving.

i heard an interview on NPR about a young girl in high school who is a self-described 'nerd,' but, in her vignette, the way she goes on to wax poetic yet logical about what that really meant, what she wanted to be when she 'grew up' and her relation to other kids her age was stunning. she ended by saying; "so, i am reading grapes of wrath not because i am suppose to, but, because i want to," etc. something about wanting to do something important with her life. something about a ghandi poster, about history. about sweaty teens her age wearing lip gloss and worrying about kissing boys and how she wanted more.

driving around, i dropped bits of saltine cracker in my lap (peanut butter side down) and almost hit a squirrel trying to remember if i ever read grapes or not.

so, here goes, steiny. here goes.


message 11: by [deleted user] (new)

That book took me a bit to get into, Donna, but it was well worth it.


message 12: by D. (last edited Aug 03, 2009 10:14AM) (new)

D. Pow I think the disdain of Steinbeck is very much a class thing, hatred of the West Coast thing. He was seen as an uneducated jejune by some. He was never quite taken seriously by the East Coast/Atlantic Monthly Cabal.

Hemingway was furious when Steinbeck won the nobel. Steinbeck was never the exacting, sentence to sentence to writer that Hem was. But he was tons more compassionate, capable of getting out of his own head and writing about other people better, and one of the best descriptive writers America ever produced. Nobody makes landscape come alive like Steinbeck.


message 13: by [deleted user] (new)

You would say that, you knuckle-dragging west coast retard.


message 14: by [deleted user] (new)

Your courting rituals are very strange.


message 15: by brian (last edited Aug 03, 2009 10:47AM) (new) - rated it 3 stars

brian   right, tambo?
the way davey flirts with donald is SHAMELESS!

donna, you might wanna start with cannery row... it's pretty incredible.

and donnie does make some great points. the reasons why east coasters might hate steiny is exactly why i, an east coaster, love him!


message 16: by [deleted user] (new)

That's not fair. I flirt shamelessly with everyone. Until I drop and block 'em, that is.


message 17: by D. (last edited Aug 03, 2009 11:15AM) (new)

D. Pow Kicked to the curb by The Goth Fag; what a fate that would be.


Damn, I might have just ruined this thread.


message 18: by [deleted user] (new)

D-Pow, you're summoning again.


message 19: by D. (new)

D. Pow Dude, like a good witness circa the Hollywood Blacklist era, I named no names.


message 20: by Tom (new) - rated it 4 stars

Tom O’Connell Very nicely put Brian, sometimes people intellectualise things into the ground. It's okay to feel and be moved by a writer.

In the canon of Steinbeck this feels less than necessary, but having said that it drew me in and was as compelling as anyone could wish for. I feel the same about The Wayward Bus.


Sarah How did I miss this entire thread?


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