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Cannery Row by John Steinbeck

Cannery Row (original 1945; edition 1993)

by John Steinbeck

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6,658123564 (4.04)1 / 586
Title:Cannery Row
Authors:John Steinbeck
Info:Penguin Books (1993), Edition: 5th, Mass Market Paperback, 208 pages
Collections:Your library
Tags:historical fiction, United States of America, friendship

Work details

Cannery Row by John Steinbeck (1945)

  1. 51
    Tortilla Flat by John Steinbeck (Booksloth)
  2. 10
    All the Pretty Horses by Cormac McCarthy (mabith)
    mabith: McCarthy's border trilogy reminded me so heavily of Steinbeck. I think if you enjoy one author you'll enjoy the other as well.
  3. 21
    Sweet Thursday by John Steinbeck (Hollerama)
  4. 11
    Angle of Repose by Wallace Stegner (lyzadanger)
    lyzadanger: Similar pastoral view of the West.
  5. 01
    The Log from the Sea of Cortez by John Steinbeck (chrisharpe)
  6. 01
    Underworld by Don DeLillo (xtien)

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Showing 1-5 of 119 (next | show all)
This book was boring. All I could manage was a chapter at a time, pretty much. Steinbeck has a way with words so it wasn't completely bad. The book just describes the setting and characters, there's no plot.

Mack and the boys are unemployed but clever, resourceful men who live in the Palace Flophouse in Monterey, California. And that's about it. ( )
  jenn88 | Feb 14, 2016 |
I love this side of Steinbeck; not tightly plotted, but short, finely-drawn, warm but ruthless character studies and tales of the down and out who've found a home in the canning district of Monterey. The kind of unassuming book that nevertheless has the potential to change the way you look at life and people...on to Sweet Thursday. ( )
  bibleblaster | Jan 23, 2016 |
Book on CD performed by Jerry Farden

Opening lines: Cannery Row in Monterey in California is a poem, a stink, a grating noise, a quality of light, a tone, a habit, a nostalgia, a dream. Cannery Row is the gathered and scattered, tin and iron and rust and splintered wood, chipped pavement and weedy lots and junk heaps, sardine canneries of corrugated iron, honky tonks, restaurants and whore houses, and little crowded groceries, and laboratories and flophouses. Its inhabitants are, as the man once said, “whores, pimps, gamblers, and sons of bitches,” by which he meant Everybody. Had the man looked through another peephole he might have said, “Saints and angels and martyrs and holy men,” and he would have meant the same thing.

Well, who am I to argue with Steinbeck. And Cannery Row, the novel, shines a light through both those peepholes, showing us the flotsam and jetsam and the jewels of humanity, the “sons of bitches” and the “saints.” The novel is written in a series of vignettes about the residents of the area. Lee Chong, who runs the grocery where you can get just about anything you need – IF you have the money. A churlish businessman, he nevertheless occasionally performs acts of charity and gives a glimpse of a generous and compassionate heart. Mack and the boys are down-on-their-luck vagrants, living in a former storage shed they have named the Palace Flophouse. Working odd jobs only long enough to collect their meager earnings, they quickly spend what little they have on liquor and enjoy life. Dora Flood runs the Bear Flag Restaurant, which is a whore house and not a place to get a sandwich. She accepts that the price she pays for continuing in business is being extraordinarily philanthropic when it comes to contributing to the local Police Benevolent Society or latest Chamber of Commerce beautification project. But she is also quietly generous to the down-and-out families who need extra groceries or shoes for their children.

And then we have Doc, the marine biologist who runs Western Biological Laboratory, and lives in a back room there. Doc makes a living collecting and selling all manner of life forms to schools and universities and research scientists across the globe. He is a man of culture and science, however. He enjoys a wide variety of music and the residents of Cannery Row frequently hear the strains of Beethoven or Benny Goodman emanating from his record player. His library is equally eclectic, including dictionaries, encyclopedias, poetry, plays and novels. He leads a rather solitary life, but he is not without companionship, and he is a great friend to all the nearby residents. In fact they all like him so much they frequently are hit with a strong urge to “do something nice for Doc.”

The efforts of Mack and the boys to arrange a surprise party (or two) for Doc are the major plot points in this character study. There are some hilarious moments of misadventure and some very poignant scenes (especially concerning the young waif Frankie) that tug at the heart strings. I wish Steinbeck had made the book longer and delved deeper into Doc’s story. Why was he such a loner? Why couldn’t he accept the love expressed by others? Why does he run from the unpleasant or horrific? The more I think about the book the more I like it, but I have to say that when I first finished, my reaction was: “Is that all?” In fact, I was going to rate the book much lower, but as I write my review I find myself liking the book more. Still, I think this work fell short of the genius I’ve seen in other Steinbeck works.

Jerry Farden does a very good job voicing the audio version. He has good pacing and I could easily distinguish the many characters thanks to his skill as a voice artist.
( )
  BookConcierge | Jan 13, 2016 |
I wasn't sure what to expect with this book. Its a Steinbeck, and considered a classic - so I was a bit apprehensive when I started this book. I shouldn't have been. Its an easy to read, but subtly deep book that is about the various people who live in Cannery row in Monterey, California.

These are people who are at the edge of society - just holding on, either because of their occupations (brothel owner) or they're situation (unemployed). Its a book of a community that trusts one another (up to a point) - that looks out for each other. The introduction of this book indicates that it is a book about lonely people, and it is, to a point, but I think its a book about the families you make.

There a few stereotypes - for example, the Chinese grocer. But, the character is written in a way that both emphasizes the stereotype, but than goes beyond, making the character a full person. Even minor characters in this book are fully developed. They are written with prose that fits with the story, but seems to point out that these characters are real and have a life of their own (example Mr. and Mrs. Malloy who discuss curtains choices in their former-boiler home.)

Steinbeck also manages to write about the ecosystem around the Monterey Bay - with Doc's expeditions and Mack's gang at frog hunting - it really is a beautiful description of the area.

Highly recommended if you like well written stories that are a slice of life type book. ( )
  TheDivineOomba | Oct 24, 2015 |
-God! So much to sample and dwell over in this paen to a special time and place in American history (gone even by the time Steinbeck published the book).
Brimming with humor and deep philosophical musings without being overbearing or pretentious, it' ( )
  VladVerano | Oct 20, 2015 |
Showing 1-5 of 119 (next | show all)
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» Add other authors (43 possible)

Author nameRoleType of authorWork?Status
Steinbeck, Johnprimary authorall editionsconfirmed
Brugmans-Martens, L.I.Translatorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Farden, JerryNarratorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Frank, RudolfTranslatorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Shillinglaw, SusanIntroductionsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Waechter, PhilipCover artistsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
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Cannery Row in Monterey in California is a poem, a stink, a grating noise, a quality of light, a tone, a habit, a nostalgia, a dream.
It has always seemed strange to me...The things we admire in men, kindness and generosity, openness, honesty, understanding and feeling, are the concomitants of failure in our system. And those traits we detest, sharpness, greed, acquisitiveness, meanness, egotism and self-interest, are the traits of success. And while men admire the quality of the first they love the produce of the second.
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Wikipedia in English (2)

Book description
Published in 1945, "Cannery Row" focuses on the acceptance of life as it is: both the exuberance of community and the loneliness of the individual. Drawing on his memories of the real inhabitants of Monterey, California, Steinbeck interweaves the stories of Doc, Henri, Mack and his boys, and the other characters in this world where only the fittest survive, to create a novel that is at once one of his most humorous and most poignant works.
Haiku summary

Amazon.com Product Description (ISBN 014200068X, Paperback)

Unburdened by the material necessities of the more fortunate, the denizens of Cannery Row discover rewards unknown in more traditional society. Henry the painter sorts through junk lots for pieces of wood to incorporate into the boat he is building, while the girls from Dora Flood’s bordello venture out now and then to enjoy a bit of sunshine. Lee Chong stocks his grocery with almost anything a man could want, and Doc, a young marine biologist who ministers to sick puppies and unhappy souls, unexpectedly finds true love. Cannery Row is just a few blocks long, but the story it harbors is suffused with warmth, understanding, and a great fund of human values.

First published in 1945, Cannery Row focuses on the acceptance of life as it is—both the exuberance of community and the loneliness of the individual. John Steinbeck draws on his memories of the real inhabitants of Monterey, California, and interweaves their stories in this world where only the fittest survive—creating what is at once one of his most humorous and poignant works. In Cannery Row, John Steinbeck returns to the setting of Tortilla Flat to create another evocative portrait of life as it is lived by those who unabashedly put the highest value on the intangibles—human warmth, camaraderie, and love.

(retrieved from Amazon Thu, 12 Mar 2015 18:02:43 -0400)

(see all 7 descriptions)

Vividly depicts the colorful, sometimes disreputable, inhabitants of a run-down area in Monterey, California.

(summary from another edition)

» see all 6 descriptions

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2 editions of this book were published by Audible.com.

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Penguin Australia

3 editions of this book were published by Penguin Australia.

Editions: 0141185082, 0141045396, 024195245X

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