A Year in the Life discussion

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Year 1:Steinbeck > Sardines & Stories

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message 1: by Brooke (new)

Brooke Horejsi | 39 comments Mod
It is officially time to start reading Cannery Row! A much shorter read than our past two books, which hopefully will allow those of us who haven't quite finished The Grapes of Wrath to finish up.

I've cracked the cover and have already been struck by a section of writing,

"When you collect marine animals there are certain flat worms so delicate that they are almost impossible to capture whole, for they break and tatter under the touch. You must let them ooze and crawl of their own will onto a knife blade and then lift them gently into your bottle of sea water. And perhaps that might be the way to write this book - to open the page and to let the stories crawl in by themselves."

Beautiful and brilliant.


message 2: by Brooke (new)

Brooke Horejsi | 39 comments Mod
Ok, anybody else read chapter 4 yet? I'm curious how others interpret it...


message 3: by Sergio (new)

Sergio | 5 comments Brooke wrote: "Ok, anybody else read chapter 4 yet? I'm curious how others interpret it..."

Im not very good at dissecting scenes for deeper meanings so i pretty much took it at face value. An aside to the story to describe the types of characters that exist in Cannery Row.

Perhaps when i finish i will be enlightened to see how it all comes together and perhaps be blown away by the use of foreshadowing but for now i see it how it is. Your thoughts?

I was more interested In Macks interaction with Lee Chong at the start. Were these veiled threats on Macks part or am i looking too deep into a possible mob link?


message 4: by Sergio (new)

Sergio | 5 comments Notable quotes in Cannery Row,

"THe things we admire in men, kindness and geerosity, openness, honesty, understanding and feeling, are the concomitants of failure in our system. And those traits we detest, sharpness, greed, acquisitiveness, meanness, egotism, and self-interest, are the traits of success. And while men admire the quality of the first they love the produce of the second."

"“Two generations of Americans knew more about the Ford coil than the clitoris"

Kind of sad as i am representative of an individual who does not know much about either.


message 5: by Sergio (new)

Sergio | 5 comments In summary:

I did enjoy Cannery Row. Ive read most of Steinbecks works but i never did read this one. My initial impression of Mack as a goon was incorrect. If anything i suppose he was more of a schemer searching for any angle to give him an advantage, although most of his angles worked out to result in mutual advantage and came from a place of good intention. Ultimatley i suppose this is a story about a schemer with a heart of gold and the town in which he resides.

Looking forward to reading other summaries on this novel.


message 6: by Brooke (new)

Brooke Horejsi | 39 comments Mod
For me the book picked up midway through, when the central story started to move. As I read I became more open to the chapter by chapter snapshots we got of the different Cannery Row residents. Originally it felt like departure after departure from the narrative, but as the book progressed it was good to see those chapters woven back into the story. They added an additional layer to an otherwise thin storyline. For me, the most successful example of Steinbeck's layered writing in this book is the nameless old who heads down to the sea each day for unknown reasons. Steinbeck gives us the pattern and the description of this person early on in the book without any direct connection to the action. Later on he returns to it as he describes the look and feel of a specific moment in Cannery Row. I found that this helped transport me to moment and the place with even more immediacy.
I appreciated that this story ended not quite as forlornly (yet not so happily either), but still have come to recognize that although I enjoy the skill with which Steinback writes, I struggle with the down trodden characters and situations that permeate his stories.


message 7: by Sergio (new)

Sergio | 5 comments I enjoyed this commentary Brooke.

Can you be more specific about the nameless old? Are you referring to the fisherman/workers who go out every morning or is there a character im forgetting?

I enjoy the downtrodden characters as they tend to be the most interesting. The poor security guard at the house of ill repute was sad but as a reader its when things go very wrong that i find myself most engaged.


message 8: by [deleted user] (last edited Apr 19, 2011 06:08PM) (new)

Cannery Row is a favorite of mine. Doc, Mack and the boys, and all the others are lovable characters who live according to Murphy's Law - whatever can go wrong, will! My favorite quote is the first line, "Cannery Row in Monterey in California is a poem, a stink, a grating noise, a quality of light, a tone, a habit, a nostalgia, a dream." After visiting Monterey this past December, I can attest to the fact that it is a beautiful, fairy-tale, seaside town where I could quite easily imagine running into all the characters in the little eco-system Steinbeck created along the shore. I'd highly recommend a visit to see for yourself the beauty of the land and sea that Steinbeck so artfully describes. And, while you are there, take the 40 minute ride to Salinas to see the National Steinbeck Center - a modest museum that covers the author's life and works thoroughly. In fact, think about attending the Annual Steinbeck Festival in August - a must for those of us who are fans. http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Go_EGl... Another great video, that I wished I had thought of making, about Cannery Row and modern day Monterey can be viewed at http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=o6Y3-H...


message 9: by Brooke (new)

Brooke Horejsi | 39 comments Mod
Maria - I'm curious, did you go to Monterey before ever reading Cannery Row?


message 10: by [deleted user] (new)

Brooke wrote: "Maria - I'm curious, did you go to Monterey before ever reading Cannery Row?"
I read Cannery Row before visiting Monterey. Have you ever been there, Brooke?


message 11: by Brooke (new)

Brooke Horejsi | 39 comments Mod
Maria wrote: "Brooke wrote: "Maria - I'm curious, did you go to Monterey before ever reading Cannery Row?"
I read Cannery Row before visiting Monterey. Have you ever been there, Brooke?"

I've spent time in Santa Cruz and driven through Monterey. It is always so great to read a book where the place plays a strong role, an additional character actually, and then be able to visit that place firsthand.


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