Cannery Row — 3 weeks ago
I’ve long had a bias against John Steinbeck. I don’t know why, it’s just been there, like a gargoyle you thought was a good idea when you saw it at a fairgrounds and you bought it and the damn thing turned out to be of real stone, not styrofoam, like you thought, and now you’ve got this stone, heavy bastard of a thing in your living room, staring down at you while you sip a cup of tea in front of the TV and try to focus on whatever’s on.
But we were down in Monterey a weekend or two ago, sleeping overnight in the aquarium down there, and I figured, “hell, you know, why don’t I try reading Cannery Row, what harm could it do?”
So I started it. And wouldn’t you know it, like throwing out the gargoyle, it was a good idea. I really enjoyed this book. It was short, sweet, a beautiful picture of some misadventures and some great characters and scenes. And it’s all done in good humor. There’s no malicious undercurrent running through this group of miscreants it chronicles, nor is there any in the grocer who abides them. And there’s certainly none in the Doc or the girls from the whorehouse. It’s a picture of humanity that paints it in a very positive light, even when a guy heads off to get a replacement part for a broken down Model T Ford and winds up in prison or the gang meet a man all on his lonesome, take advantage of him in the politest way possible, even steal from him, sort of, leaving him with a destroyed home and surely no little anger at how he’s been misused.
And even when things get ugly, and they do, it’s not so ugly that the redeeming qualities of these people don’t shine through.