CANNERY ROW -- Steinbeck's humorous and poignant Depression-era classic is filled with hope and heart
Cannery Row by John Steinbeck (1945, Viking Press; 208 pages)
John Steinbeck’s lovely and hilarious classic revolves around the people living in the cannery district of Monterey, California, during the Great Depression. Among them: Doc, a marine biologist; Mack, the leader of a group of derelicts who inhabit a converted fish-meal shack; Dora Flood, who runs the Bear Flag Restaurant (and house of ill repute); and Lee Chong, the local grocer.
Mack and his friends are trying to do something nice for their friend, Doc, who has been good to them without asking for anything in return. Mack hits on the idea that they should throw a thank-you party, and the entire community becomes involved. Unfortunately, the party rages out of control, and Doc’s lab and home are ruined. In an effort to return to Doc’s good graces, Mack and the boys decide to throw another party.
The flow of the main plot is frequently interrupted by short, sometimes darkly humorous vignettes that introduce us to the various denizens of the Row. These vignettes often allude to the cruelty of the natural world.
Steinbeck’s writing style is impeccable, and the way he uses anecdotes to introduce the setting of this story works really well. He also tells his story very plainly, making it more pleasurable to read while still preserving a profound reading experience and an influential story.
Find this title in our catalog: Cannery Row
Recommended by: Ariadne