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Sweet Thursday (Penguin Modern Classics) by…

Sweet Thursday (Penguin Modern Classics) (original 1954; edition 2011)

by John Steinbeck (Author)

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2,191354,211 (3.98)192
Title:Sweet Thursday (Penguin Modern Classics)
Authors:John Steinbeck (Author)
Info:Penguin Classics (2011), 288 pages
Collections:Your library

Work details

Sweet Thursday by John Steinbeck (1954)

  1. 40
    Cannery Row by John Steinbeck (HollyMS)
  2. 30
    The Log from the Sea of Cortez by John Steinbeck (jlelliott)
    jlelliott: In the appendix to The Log of the Sea of Cortez Steinbeck tells the stories of the real denizens of Cannery Row, inspiration for the characters in Sweet Thursday.
  3. 00
    The Hamlet by William Faulkner (Cecilturtle)

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» See also 192 mentions

English (29)  Norwegian (2)  French (1)  Spanish (1)  Italian (1)  Hebrew (1)  All languages (35)
Showing 1-5 of 29 (next | show all)
After I fell in love with Steinbeck's Cannery Row about a year ago and actually went to visit Monterey shortly after finishing the book, it was a given for me to get to the sequel, which is Sweet Thursday. Set in the years after the second World War, the protagonist of Cannery Row, Doc, returns to his lab on Cannery Row in Monterey to find that he himself and Cannery Row have changed.

Western Biological Laboratories has not been run to Doc's liking and he finds it devoid of the life he had left it with. He tries to reestablish his lab and to get to work again, but somehow he is not satisfied anymore. Something in his life is missing and he cannot really put the finger on what it is. This is where Mack and the other boys from the Palace Flophouse come in. They are some of the many characters from the prequel to make a reappearance. The boys still want Doc to be happy since Doc is the glue that holds Cannery Row together. Now that he is back they believe the Row can be returned to its former glory. With the canneries closed the Row is just not the same anymore. Soon, Doc meets a new inhabitant of Cannery Row, Suzy. Their relationship, however, has its ups and downs. Both do not seem to get close enough to each other although they clearly like each other a lot. While Doc regards Suzy as the missing puzzle piece in his life at first, things soon change and he drowns himself in work. Doc wants to write and publish a paper but he never gets the work done as there is some internal barrier keeping him from doing the work he has once loved so much. So as not to spoil the ending I will leave it up to you to find out what happens to Suzy and Doc in the end.

What I liked most about this novel are Steinbeck's superb writing skills. The interplay of the characters and the depiction of life on Cannery Row are simply outstanding. Steinbeck has a perfect grasp of which elements of the story to reveal and which to leave up to the readers' imagination. In the prologue to the novel as in the novel itself Steinbeck lets characters muse about the art of writing and what an author should do so as to tell an interesting story. The criteria for a good book presented in the prologue are each addressed in the story itself, for example giving the chapters a headline, having more dialogue or not telling the readers everything in description. Steinbeck plays with narrative techniques and the relation of showing and telling, however, when he inserts himself into the story at some points in order to describe and interpret actions for the reader, the very thing that was criticized in the prologue. That is why the novel spoke to me on more than one level. While the interplay of the characters make for a fascinating picture of life on Cannery Row, the meta level of how to write a story is something that I enjoyed very much as well.

While it might be possible to read this novel without having read the prequel, I would advise to read Cannery Row first before turning to Sweet Thursday as it adds a lot of background to the story and the characters. 4.5 stars for an almost perfect novel. I probably just subtracted half a star because I loved Cannery Row even more. ( )
  OscarWilde87 | Aug 11, 2018 |
Liked this considerably more than its predecessor Cannery Row, beacause I loved that movie, and most of its story is found in this book and not the other. There are a few bits of cringingly racist dialogue that reflect the times in which the story took place, but overall I found it entertaining and sometimes howlingly funny. I found in reading the most familiar parts, the voice of John Huston narrating in my head, which was very pleasant indeed. I'd still recommend reading Cannery Row first, since the second book leans on it a little, at least in the beginning. ( )
  unclebob53703 | Jun 9, 2017 |
I am a sucker for Steinbeck's writing and this was no exception. I relish the unabashed way that Steinbeck will pause in the story to say something about...well, I don't know, LIFE, I guess. In some ways, I enjoyed the less-focused episodic style of Cannery Row better, but I also enjoyed the opportunity for further character development in this one. In any event, a welcome return to Steinbeck's Monterey. Too bad it's not a trilogy... ( )
  bibleblaster | Jan 23, 2016 |
John Steinbeck found something funny in Monterey, California. The three novels he set in the city make up the author's three most recognized comedies (his only comedies, I believe, with the exception of the satirical ...Pippin IV). In Sweet Thursday, Steinbeck returns to the characters and setting of his earlier novel Cannery Row. Some of the Row's characters have moved on and others have moved in. If you've read Cannery Row or Steinbeck's first visit to Monterey, Tortilla Flat, then you're already aware of the type of story at hand.

Of the three, I enjoyed Sweet Thursday most. In part, I believe this is because of the style of comedy Steinbeck employs in Sweet Thursday. In his earlier novels, much of the hilarity relies on drunken antics. Sure, drunk people can do funny things, but you can only laugh at a village of drunken idiots so long before you begin to feel bad for them and the comedy loses its effect. In Sweet Thursday the laughs are more situational and character driven.

Another reason I think Sweet Thursday succeeded more in reaching me is due to the structure of the novel—it felt more like a complete novel. Although Steinbeck's earlier comedic attempts certainly had an overarching story, they descended into many vignettes that were entertaining, but took me out of the story. With Sweet Thursday the entire story centers on curing the loneliness that ails Doc. There's romance and sacrifice and only the occasional drunken moment. Lastly, Sweet Thursday seemed to me the most simple and profound of the three novels.

Given my dramatic nature, Steinbeck's more comedic novels could never take the place of greats like East of Eden, The Grapes of Wrath, or The Winter of Our Discontent, but I enjoyed my visits to Monterey nonetheless. And I wonder, what is Monterey, California, truly like? ( )
2 vote chrisblocker | Sep 26, 2014 |
A sequel to Cannery Row. This one is more plot-driven and not so much a series of vignettes, as Cannery Row was, even though it is its sequel and carries on the stories of nearly the same characters and the same setting. This picks up after the interruption of World War II, after Doc returns from the battlefield. He has changed inwardly, lacking the satisfaction with his life that he enjoyed before. His friends at the Palace Flophouse and the Bear Flag attempt with humorous and poignant results to come to his rescue.
1 vote FancyHorse | Apr 11, 2014 |
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Author nameRoleType of authorWork?Status
John Steinbeckprimary authorall editionscalculated
DeMott, RobertIntroductionsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Farden, JerryNarratorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
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One night Mack lay back on his bed in the Palace Flophouse and he said, "I ain't never been satisfied with that book Cannery Row. I would of went about it different."
If only people would give the thought, the care, the judgment to international affairs, to politics, even to their jobs, that they lavish on what to wear to a masquerade, the world would run in greased grooves.
The canneries themselves fought the war by getting the limit taken off fish and catching them all. It was done for patriotic reasons, but that didn't bring the fish back. As with the oysters in Alice, 'They'd eaten every one.' It was the same noble impulse that stripped the forests of the West and right now is pumping water out of California's earth faster than it can rain back in. When the desert comes, people will be sad; just as Cannery Row was sad when all the pilchards were caught and canned and eaten
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Parcă lipseşte ceva când nu-i aici ca să mai facă vreo boroboaţă.
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In Monterey, on the California coast, Sweet Thursday is what they call the day after Lousy Wednesday, which is one of those days that are just naturally bad. Returning to the scene of Cannery Row, the weedy lots and junk heaps and flophouses of Monterey, John Steinbeck once more brings to life the denizens of a netherworld of laughter and tears, from Fauna, new headmistress of the local brothel, to Hazel, a bum whose mother must have wanted a daughter.… (more)

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