6. Cannery Row – John Steinbeck.
History: It was published in 1945.
Plot: Cannery Row takes place on a small street lined with sardine fisheries in Monterey. It revolves around the people living there during the Great Depression. It has a simple premise: Mack and his friends are trying to do something nice for their friend Doc. Mack hits on the idea that they should throw a party, and the entire community rapidly becomes involved.
Unfortunately, the party rages out of control, ruining Doc's lab and home. In an effort to return to Doc's good graces, Mack and the boys decide to throw another party - but to make it work this time.
Review: This was my favorite of Steinbeck, actually one of my favorite books. The novel is by turns nostalgic, comical, and sad. I learned about and became aware of descriptions that authors use by the way he illustrated the coast and the tide pools. I became obsessed with Monterey Bay, but when I eventually visited there I was disappointed. The book also encompasses many subplots in between the main plot of the novel. Throughout the story characters are all expanded upon and they reveal that they are much more complicated than they seem. For example, Dora Flood is the owner of the brothel and is disliked by the women of the town because of her business, but she is very generous and for two years donates groceries to hungry people. Doc, who is a loved and respected member of society, is, deep down, a very sad and lonely person who, until the end of the story, never opens up to other people. The characters were magical and the descriptions superb. Vividly brought to life, Steinbeck’s classic is a tale of community down in the dregs of the fuel tank of America. A captivating study of real life people.
Opening 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.
Closing Line: "He wiped his eyes with the back of his hand and the white rats scampered and scrambled in their cages and behind the glass the rattlesnakes lay still and stared into space with their dusty frowning eyes.
Quotes: "It has always seemed strange to me...The things we admire in men, kindness and generosity, 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
Rating: rubbish poor mediocre okay good very good superb