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Reviews of Cannery Row (1945)

Review by datovs (2013-05-24)
Cannery Row is a stand-out from Steinbeck's usual style in that it mixes social commentary with very delicate and sharp humor. The characters revolve around Cannery Row and continuously have their sub-plots interwoven with each others. Steinbeck has beautifully brought to life a small community that one can't help sympathies for, especially the central man; doc, the alienated narrator.

Review by freejazz (2005-01-27)
A very short read as I remember, I don't know that I would call it a novel, more of a long 'short story'
but I would call it very fun.

Review by hammer587 (2004-01-27)
I laughed out loud a bunch of times. Steinbeck continues to impress his way into my favorite writer.

Review by branko (2003-06-05)
The (current) description of this book, "Adventures of cannery workers", is as wrong as it gets. This book is not about the workers at Cannery Row, but about the people that live on the fringe there, that only come into sharp perspective during the fourteen to sixteen hours a day that the workers of the canneries are at home: the prostitutes, the bums, the shop keepers, the patrolling police, the ones that stay at The Row; and about Doc.

Or, as the author describes it: "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 flop-houses. It's 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 peep-hole he might have said, "Saints and angels and martyrs and holy men," and he would have meant the same thing."

Despite the typical Steinbeck melancholy that runs deep in this book, this novel is first and foremost extremely funny. The way the boys from the Palace Grill Flop-House try to scam shop keeper Lee Chong again and again, and the way Lee Chong tries to defend himself against these scams and somehow manages to come out victoriously (most of the time, at least) are hilarious. The way a party thrown for Doc starts to get a life of its own is devastating.

©Steven Jeffery /, 2017
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