I finished it approximately 40 minutes ago.
And LOVED it. I am going to make every effort to read his other books (Of Mice and Men, Grapes of Wrath). I know for a fact that this is going to be one of those books that I read at least once a year.
The blurb is this…
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. Doc, who owns the laboratory, is the fount of all generosity and 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.
Steinbeck’s style of writing kind of reminds me a bit of Douglas Adams in the way that events, which have the potential to be the subject of an entire paragraph, or even an entire chapter, are casually mentioned in a sentence. And events, like a flag pole skater, takes up a whole chapter.
The novel is so descriptive that it feels as if you are experiencing the book rather than reading it. Steinbeck writes,
How can the poem and the stink and the grating noise-the quality of light, the tone, the habit and the dream-be set down alive? When you collect marine animals there are certain flat worms so delicate that they are almost impossible to capture whole, for they break and tatter under the touch. You must let them ooze and crawl of their own will onto a knife blade and then lift them gently into your bottle of sea water. And perhaps that might be the way to write this book-to open the page and let the stories crawl in by themselves.
And that’s how the book feels. There is a chapter on how a day in Cannery Row begins and when I was reading it I felt incredibly relaxed. Sentences like, “In the gray time after the light has come and before the sun has risen, the Row seems to hang suspended out of time in a silvery light.” Isn’t that calming?
It’s just beautiful, beautiful writing. “It is the hour of pearl-the interval between day and night when time stops and examines itself.” I almost cried. It is just amazing.
I love it.
Please read it! You’ll laugh. You’ll cry. It’ll change your life.