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The Pastures of Heaven by John Steinbeck
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The Pastures of Heaven (1932)

by John Steinbeck

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7721611,968 (4.04)16
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Showing 1-5 of 14 (next | show all)
Fine collection of excellent short stories ( )
  Phoenixangelfire | Apr 6, 2014 |
This was not Steinbeck's first book, but it was the one that caused people to start taking notice of his talent. The book reminded me of another favorite short story cycle of mine, Sherwood Anderson's Winesburg, Ohio. Both books follow individual characters living near each other in a small place. Some of the same characters drift in and out of the stories. These books are dissections of small town and country life, where on the surface it looks normal, just an average place, but underneath is a seething mass of human nature. The subject matter is often dark in both books. Neither Steinbeck nor Anderson were writers to shy away from exposing the shadow selves we so often repress, knowingly or not. And they do not judge; they simply show, as all good writers do. ( )
  S.D. | Apr 4, 2014 |
A beautiful early Steinbeck which reminds me of why I like his writing so much. Compared with other writers of the same era, Steinbeck's prose is rich and beautiful, without being flowery, and simple and yet marvellously evocative. The Pastures of Heaven is almost another of his Monterrey books, but it takes place entirely in a secluded valley a short distance inland from Monterrey and Carmel. Written as a series of interconnected short tales, dealing with the lives and hopes and jealousies and dreams of a richly-drawn cast of characters, not all of which come to happy endings. Better than Anderson's Winesburg, Ohio, and far more summery and less-labored than Sinclair Lewis' Main Street. A deeply affecting book. 5 / 5 stars. ( )
  Bill_Bibliomane | Dec 27, 2013 |
I'd always assumed that Steinbeck was an overly sentimental and moralizing author who would annoy me with rotten cliches about the value of every human being and simple rural life while emphasizing romantic and simple tragedy in a way that tread perilously close kitsch. Turns out I was wrong. Not that he's totally unlike the writer I imagined, but it was a caricature that, if I'd really thought about it, I should have realized couldn't be true. It's not the first time and (sadly) won't be the last time that I've taken an exaggerated dislike to something just because it's popular.

The book itself? The characters are (mostly) well drawn, the stories interesting, the setting well realized. Most of the stories seem to turn on the notion that, ultimately, we all live alone with our various needs, desires, and fears. When people try to intervene in the lives of their neighbors it often goes sour, through a lack of understanding or a conflation of their neighbors needs with their own. Family is paramount and there are a couple of examples where the bond between husband and wife transcends the general limitation on humanity's ability to know and support one another. Interesting, the bonds between parents and children seem much looser. There are a few times where I felt it was all being laid on just a tad thick.

The description of small scale agriculture is lovely and sentimental and I can't help but think that it would have been particularly potent for my parents and others (many of my parents' age) who are one generation removed from the land. I wonder how much this contributed to Steinbeck's popularity in the 20th century and how it will change in the years to come as fewer and fewer people have recent family, or youthful personal, experience with life on a small farm. ( )
  Brendan.H | Jul 21, 2013 |
Showing 1-5 of 14 (next | show all)
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» Add other authors (6 possible)

Author nameRoleType of authorWork?Status
Steinbeck, Johnprimary authorall editionsconfirmed
Nagel, JamesIntroductionsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Vittorini, ElioTranslatorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
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To my father and mother
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When the Carmelo Mission of Alta California was being built, some time around 1776, a group of twenty converted Indians abandoned religion during a night, and in the morning they were gone from their huts.
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Book description
A collection of interrelated stories. Steinbeck charts the gradual disintegration of a peaceful farming community in a lush California valley. As he writes of a family suddenly made to feel 'poor' through the charity of a neighbor, of the wanton destruction of a retarded boy's tenuous hold on reality, and of a father jealous of suspected attentions paid to his daughter, Steinbeck depicts the destructive impact of one family's insensitivity on the lives of all those around them.
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Amazon.com Product Description (ISBN 0140187480, Paperback)

Today, nearly forty years after his death, Nobel Prize winner John Steinbeck remains one of America?s greatest writers and cultural figures. We have begun publishing his many works for the first time as blackspine Penguin Classics featuring eye-catching, newly commissioned art. This season we continue with the seven spectacular and influential books East of Eden, Cannery Row, In Dubious Battle, The Long Valley, The Moon Is Down, The Pastures of Heaven, and Tortilla Flat. Penguin Classics is proud to present these seminal works to a new generation of readers?and to the many who revisit them again and again."

(retrieved from Amazon Mon, 30 Sep 2013 13:52:14 -0400)

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The insensitivity between neighbors leads to the gradual disintegration of a small California farm community.

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