Wednesday, October 12, 2011

Hello Again John Steinbeck

So, I'm officially deciding that I like John Steinbeck.  As an eighth grader, I remember reading The Pearl and absolutely hating it.  Seriously, the short text took me weeks to get through.  But now, I finally feel like I'm old enough to understand what makes Steinbeck so great.

Book Review:  Cannery Row by John Steinbeck 

For starters, I read Cannery Row.  While the setting for this novel is somewhat bleak--an impoverished and ofttimes depressed coastal town in California--the characters are brought to life by everyday exchanges and emotions the reader can relate to.  It's a book without much of a plot, but there's no denying it captures the feeling and people of Monterey.  The "story" of Canner Row follows the adventures of Mack and the boys, a group of unemployed but resourceful men.  They inhabit a converted fish-meal shack on the edge of a vacant cleverly named Palace Flophouse.  Sprinkled throughout are also interactions with the local grocer, Lee Chong, and Cannery Row's marine biologist, Doc.  The book follows Mack and his friend as they try to do something nice for Doc.  Eventually, they hit on the idea that they should throw a party in his honor; and immediately the entire town rallies around the idea.  If you're trying to ease back into Steinbeck, I'd certainly say this is a great book for getting reacquainted.  Plus, the chapters are super short. 

My Rating:  ****

Book Review:  Sweet Thursday by John Steinbeck 

After finishing Cannery Row, I quickly found out a sequel had been written...Sweet Thursday.  Again, Steinbeck follows the quirky characters of Monterrey, but he also introduces us to Fauna, the new headmistress of the local brothel, and to Hazel, a bum whose mother must have wanted a daughter.  Additionally, a love interest for Doc's been written in; however, she's not exactly the kind of girl you'd take home to meet your parents, but you can't help but love her.  Sure, I've read some reviews that say Sweet Thursday isn't as good as its prequel, but I completely disagree.  I absolutely loved it.  Maybe it's the time period (following WWII), or maybe it's the romance.  But, I think it all works together and creates an absolutely wonderful read. 

My Rating:  *****

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