In the din and stink that is Cannery Row a colourful blend of misfits - gamblers, whores, drunks, bums and artists - survive side by side in a jumble of adventure and mischief. Lee Chong, the astute owner of the well-stocked grocery store, is also the proprietor of the Palace Flophouse that Mack and his troupe of good-natured 'boys' call home. Dora, of the flaming orange hair and taste for Nile-green dresses, runs the brothel with clockwork efficiency and a generous heart. Doc, who owns the laboratory, is the fount of all wisdom. Everybody wants to do something nice for Doc: the trouble is, he always ends up paying.
Packed with invention and joie de vivre CANNERY ROW is Steinbeck's high-spirited tribute to his native California.
©1945 John Steinbeck (P)2011 Hachette Digital
One of Steinbeck’s best, but too short! Again Steinbeck draws a picture of a time and place that will remain a vivid portrait. This time it is a derelict area in Monterey, California. Probably the 1920s, although it is not said. There are T-Fords, it is on this I am guessing. Steinbeck was from Salinas, California, so he is writing about what he knows best: a cannery, the sea, its smells pungent, acrid and salt, the octopi and starfish and rattlesnakes and the rats, the sound of the surf, the feel of the air, the quiet at dawn and the heat at the end of a hot summer day. The stickiness and the lilting breeze and the people - who live in a discarded boiler, a rusted tunnel, the lucky in a deserted warehouse. There is a brothel and a Chinese grocery. This book is about these people and it is about friendship and it is about parties. Think back on all the parties you have been at. The ones of your youth. How they start and how they end. The food, the drink, the music and dancing and the whole atmosphere. Reading this book will back to you the parties of your own past. They are made palpable. This book is a tribute to parties, parties with people you love.
"A small story worth reading"
I decided to read some more highly regarded authors/books and Steinbeck was one of them. This is what I would call a 'small story' in that its just a little tale about a group of friends but obviously with all the things you can expect from Steinbeck, it's not Of Mice and Men or Grapes of Wrath but worth a read
"Sometimes listening is better."
This book was set by our reading group. Unable to buy and read it in time I downloaded this audible version and am so glad. It really is a cracking little story, we all enjoyed it but when I briefly played part of my audible version at the meeting some members thought it too slow. Not a fast reader myself I particularly enjoyed the audible because it really brought out the poetic lyricism of the novella, enlivened the imagery and was simply such a pleasure to listen to. I'd recommend it every time.
A Beautiful and characterful piece of writing from the man who wrote about the place he lived in and about the good that is always lurking somewhere in the hearts of men.
"Visit Monterey, and read/listen to Cannery Row"
I had the great fortune to find myself in Monterey last year, complete with Cannery Row ready to listen to on my iPhone. I listened immediately following my visit to Cannery Row itself, and was quite puzzled. Certainly there's no shortage of cashing in on the book's fame, but tastefully done. What puzzled me was that, in the book, not a lot happens. But when that not-a-lot does happen, it happens really, really well. The (very ordinary) characters that do this not-a-lot are sketched out in great detail by the masterful Steinbeck, and you like them. Steinbeck makes you yearn to be part of the story, to live in the Flophouse, to party in their company, to buy your comestibles from the store, to get up to that not-a-lot with them. I can think of no better word than 'charming'.
Two things to do before you die - visit Monterey, and read this.
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