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Thursday, July 17, 2008

Cannery Row ... and Giveaway

I chose to read Cannery Row, by John Steinbeck, for three reasons ...
1: I loved East of Eden when we read it for book club
2: It fit with the Historical Fiction Challenge
3: It fits with the 1% Well Read Challenge.

Knowing that I loved East of Eden, I expected something like that from this book. They are NOT similar at all.

I had a hard time getting into this book ... I couldn't quite figure out what the author was trying to do. However, once I figured it out, I loved this short little book!

Cannery Row is about the people living in on the row (it's in Monterey, California, in case you didn't know). It's about their lives, what they do from day to day, how they interact. The story is set in the 1930s when money is tight but Prohibition is over.

In brief, somewhat unconnected chapters, Steinbeck introduces you to the men and women of the town. What I realized about halfway through the book is that he's actually giving you the events of a week or so in chronological order. He updates you on one group of people, then in the next chapter fills you in on what another group is doing across town. Sometimes those stories relate to each other, sometimes not. Once I "got it" the book completely made sense to me and I really enjoyed it.

I do have to mention Steinbeck's amazing writing. His descriptions are vivid and unique. For those of you familiar with the coast of California (I've been there a few times) you'll immediately recognize the towns and physical features he includes. But even if you've never seen a tide pool, for example, you'll be able to see it clearly in your imagination. I wanted to include the entire tide pool description here but it's too long. Instead, I'll give you this snippet:
The creeping murderer, the octopus, steals out, slowly, softly, moving like a gray mist, pretending now to be a bit of weed, now a rock, now a lump of decaying meat while its evil goat eyes watch coldly. ... suddenly it runs lightly on the tips of its arms, as ferociously as a charging cat.
You really have to read that entire section - it's is so ... vivid is the only word I can come up with.

In other parts of the book the author uses interesting word choices as well. At one point some men are smelling the stew they've been cooking for hours and the smell is "heartbreaking" ... I can feel that. Several of the men say "idear" rather than "idea" ... my uncles all use that word too.

At just over 100 pages, this is an easy and entertaining read with excellent use of language. Because it's so small and because it fits in with so many challenges out there, I'm giving away my copy of Cannery Row to one lucky reader. Leave a comment on this post and I'll draw a random winner on July 25. Good luck!

Also reviewed by (give me your link and I'll add you here):
The Bluestocking Society

27 comments:

Shana said...

I am almost embarrassed to admit I've never read this book - but would love to. I enjoyed your review. It's nice to read reviews of older, classic books for a change!

Cheers,
Shana

Sarah G said...

I've always been meaning to read the big Steinbecks - like "East of Eden" or "The Grapes of Wrath," but somehow I've not gotten around to it! Since I'm working on the "1001 Books List," enter me in the drawing!

Book Zombie said...

After reading your review I am very interested to read Cannery Row.
I especially liked how you descibed that the characters say "idear" rather than "idea" - I find these nuances of speech add such charm to stories.
Thanks for the great review!

Julie said...

That was a great review. I can just imagine the heartbreaking smell of the stew. I'd love to read the rest of it!

Amanda said...

Oh! I loved East of Eden as well! I've never read Cannary Row but it sounds interesting. I just picked up (but haven't read) a used copy of his book (non-fiction) Travels With Charley about his cross country road trip with his dog Charley. Thanks for a great review!

Ti said...

Don't count me in on the giveaway as I have my own copy but I just wanted to say how much I enjoyed it when I read it. It's a keeper!

Laura said...

I'll be reading this book soon for a challenge, so I'm thinking your little hint about the way it is written will help me out! (I already own it, so I don't need to be entered in the drawing).

Jessica said...

I LOVE this book! (See my review here: http://thebluestockings.com/2008/04/cannery-row/)

For some reason, I don't have a copy of it and would love one. Thanks!

Susan Helene Gottfried said...

No need to enter me, either, even though I haven't read this yet. I'm just letting you know it's now posted at Win a Book.

Rebecca said...

The 1% challenge sounds fun. I think I'll sign up. :)

Trish said...

I've heard such great things about Steinbeck, but the only thing I've read by him is Travels With Charley--a sort of travelogue memoir (which I really enjoyed). I'd love to be entered. :)

Bybee said...

Don't enter me in the drawing...I have this on my TBR. Since you wrote such a great review and since I love Steinbeck, I'll have to move it up a bit...

Sassy Mama Bear said...

I also have to admit I have not read this one of Steinbeck's books and would love to be entered in the contest. You give a very expressive review that draws one in.
sassylucylootoo(at)yahoo(dot)com

Michelle said...

I started reading this one a couple months back and for some (currently unknown) reason I stopped reading it and returned it to the library!

MoonMaiden said...

I'd love to read this :) *Thanks* for the giveaway!

ols[dot]moonmaiden[at]gmail[dot]com

gautami tripathy said...

I have not read this one! ount me in, please!

gautami dot tripathy at gmail dot com

justareadingfool said...

Heather, I was looking through my small Steinbeck collection and realize I don't have that there. I'd love to have a chance to win also. Like Trish, I loved Travels with Charley.

trish said...

I recently re-read East of Eden for my book club. :D I ADORE that book. And now that you've explained how Cannery Row is set up, I think I'd like it, too. :D

Stephanie said...

You don't need to add me to your drawing, as I already own at least one copy of Cannery Row (possibly two, but I'm not sure, as my books are scattered between several houses right now), but I just wanted to reminisce...This was one I read aloud to my ds when he was 2. Good for his vocabulary, and it made it easier for me to get through, both because it's a classic and because it's difficult to read to yourself when a 2 year old is crawling all over you. LOL I liked this one. Not as much as The Grapes of Wrath, but more than Of Mice and Men. Haven't gotten to East of Eden yet, but it's on my bookshelf, waiting. :)

Natasha @ Maw Books said...

When I was in high school I went on a John Steinbeck kick and read everything that the library had. I remember those times with much fondess. No need to enter me, I've already got this one.

windycindy said...

Believe it or not, I have never read this classic! It is probably time that I do. Please enter me in your drawing. Many thanks, Cindi
jchoppes[at]hotmail[dot]com

peng said...

please enter me. Thanks!

Jen said...

I love, love, love Steinbeck, but didn't really like this book when I read it. However, that was at least 10 years ago, and I'd love to give it another chance. Thanks for the contest!

blueviolet said...

The period of time Steinbeck wrote about in his books is completely fascinating to me. "Grapes of Wrath" is one of my all-time favorites. I really like his writing style so I would very much like to give this one a try too.
doot65 at comcast dot net

Anonymous said...

I have read two of Steinbeck's books and have enjoyed both of them, one of my favorites was East of Eden.
I have been to Monterrey and you just can't visit that area without being reminded of him and his writing.
JOYE
JWIsley@aol.com

Rebecca Reid said...

I'd love to read this: I too loved East of Eden and now I need to read more Steinbeck.

Ali said...

Lovely quotes. Thanks for the review--you've not only sold me, but prepared me so I can better enjoy it. What more could I ask for?

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