Wednesday, January 27, 2010

Book Review : Cannery Row - John Steinbeck 8*

This is a wonderful little novel, set in a fictionalised street on the sea front in Monteray during the Great Depression (the time period of Steinbeck's novels Of Mice And Men' and 'The Grapes Of Wrath'), Cannery Row is a small community in which everyone just about gets by, and people are fairly content because they do not really desire things they cannot get.

The cast of characters are less defined than say George and Lennie in OMAM, but they are still warmly human and endearing, the homeless bums led by Mack hold to their own peculiar codes of honour and loyalty, the marine biologist Doc is loved and held in warm regard by everyone, Lee Chong the grocery owner seems to be the most avaricious of the group but even he is more humane than grasping.

Cannery Row ambles along, it is in the end the story of a party and how the various organisers and invitees find themselves there, it is warming and positive yarn of people finding comfort and happiness in hard times. That isn't to say that Steinbeck's portrayal of Cannery Row is in any way sugar coated though, from the married couple that live inside an old boiler to the homeless drinkers that drift from temporary job to ill thought out money making scheme, the hardships of 1920's America are put on open display.

I really enjoyed this novel, almost as much as OMAM, and I was charmed to find inside the book (and I cannot remember where I got hold of this second hand copy) a sales receipt from the Old General Store (formerly Wing Chong's Market), 835 Cannery Row, Monteray, California, price $1.75 (plus 11 cents sales tax), 24th Aug 1979.

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