Goodreads Summary– 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, and drawn from Steinbeck’s memories of real inhabitants of Monterey, California, Cannery Row focuses on the acceptance of life as it is—both the loneliness of the individual and the exuberance of community.
“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 inhabitant are, as the man once said, “whores, pimps, gambler 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 holymen” and he would have meant the same thing.”
I have mentioned Cannery Row so many time on my blog, so I figured it was about time I reviewed it! It is Independence Day so I thought it would be an appropriate time to talk about a book written by one of America’s greatest authors! Cannery Row is one of Steinbeck’s lesser known novels and I hope this inspires at least one person to pick it up! I am not going to write my typical review with Loves and Dislikes because this is my all time favourite book- obviously there is nothing I dislike!
Cannery Row is all about the characters! The cast of characters are just so wonderful! Many of them are struggling and in desperately difficult situations, but they manage to persevere. Mack is my favourite character of all time. He is one of those people that always means well but seems to mess things up in the process. He has such a great heart, but he is unlucky! In spite of this, he remains positive and optimistic.
“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.”
This quote pretty much summarizes the whole book for me. Mack and the boys are the kind of people that many of us ignore, and because of that we might miss out on meeting someone wonderful.
The story is simple, yet charming, funny, and sad. The eloquence of Steinbeck’s writing really shines in Cannery Row.
I hope you enjoyed this short review, excuse me while I go and read Cannery Row for the 15+ time!