Customer Reviews: Sweet Thursday (Penguin Classics)
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on April 4, 2002
"Sweet Thursday" is, without a doubt, my personal favorite Steinbeck novel.
Assuredly, he wrote better books -- ones, such as "Cannery Row," for example (and for which this volume serves as a sequel), which were arguably far more profound and which today remain far more prominent in the public mind as examples of Steinbeck's craft -- yet I don't believe that he ever wrote anything with more insight, not mention love and dedication, than "Sweet Thursday."
"Sweet Thursday" is, simply put, a 'love letter;' Steinbeck's love -- for the characters (and the real-life people who inspired those characters), as well as his love for the simple craft of writing -- shines forth in every page. Written approximately fifteen years after its "prequel," "Sweet Thursday" also serves to document Steinbeck's growth as a writer (he'd significantly narrowed the gap in those intervening years between what a writer wants to say -- as expressed by yet another California author [Raymond Chandler] -- and his ability to actually say it).
But above all else, it's simply a "marvelous read;" and, by the way, you don't have to read "Cannery Row" beforehand in order to fully enjoy it.
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on May 31, 2004
Steinbeck's colorful sequel to "Cannery Row". WWII has passed, and in one way or another everyone from "Cannery Row" has either fought in it or been affected by it; now, they have resumed their lives in Monterey. Some old characters have left, moved on, or died, and new characters such as Joseph & Mary Rivas (one man), Flora, Whitey #2, and Suzy are new. But the main characters without whom the book wouldn't have been written, Doc, Mack, and Hazel return. Each character is real and believable from speech to dress, thought and action. Their seemingly mundane and simple lives are interesting and appealing (as are most people's without even realizing it), and the love story which develops between Doc and Suzy is charming in my opinion. Throughout, and especially in the two chapters Steinbeck entitles "hooptedoodle", there are interesting asides on subjects such as Pacific Grove, Carmel Valley, and marine biology for example, which help fill in the larger universe of "Sweet Thursday/Cannery Row". One of my favorite chapters is the one entitled: "There's a Hole in Reality Through Which We Can Look if We Wish". Here, Doc takes a lonely, evening stroll along the beach where he encounters a man called "the Seer". The Seer invites Doc to his campfire for dinner and in a mystical conversation we begin to really see and feel another side of Doc's personality not as evident in the more light-hearted "Cannery Row". This mysterious beach-bum talks to a morose Doc and gets him to realize that what's lacking in his life is nothing less than Love. "Sweet Thursday" is the story of Doc's accepting love, as well as the good intentions of his diverse friends, into his life. Steinbeck's further development of the other Cannery characters, along with his wonderful descriptions of Monterey County and the post-war time period is a perfect blend of art and story-telling talent which make for a highly enjoyable novel. It's quite possible that you will want to read it more than once, not only to re-live Steinbeck's "Cannery Row", but also to re-discover the warm-hearted life lessons contained within.
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VINE VOICEon February 18, 2004
Rarely do sequels rise to the level of the first book, but this one sure does. Although it is not essential to have read Cannery Row before Sweet Thursday, it certainly helps. Sweet Thursday carries on the stories of the misfits of Cannery Row and their unceasing cause of paying Doc back for all the good he has done the misfits' community.
This sequel takes place after World War II. A few characters are vets, one was lost in teh war and the canneries have closed. The main characters return in full favor and flavor.
This is a rarity for Steinbeck - a humorous love story. The characters, as always, are interesting and very engaging. The wit and wisdom of the unemployed men and brothel denizens keep the pages turning. A new store owner, a visiting professor and a new "hustling" lady are added to the cast of the previous book. With every page there is a smile a bit of thought-provoking philosophizing.
A wonderfully entertaining book.
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on December 11, 2001
I read Sweet Thursday in my undergrad days and I remember sitting up all night to finish the novel. Steinbeck is an intelligent writer, and one has only to roll his words in the mind, over and over again, to get their full import.
Doc epitomises the secret fantasy in every man's mind to be the average man but with above-average ideas. Living in this world, yet supremely unattached from its petty temptations and puny ambitions. Doc tries to pick up his life in the post-War society with changing priorities and prejudices. He tries to tackle issues with his "archaic" set of values and morals and gets confused in the process. The reader feels almost relieved to identify with Doc's confusions, in the novel. With the meeting of Suzy and Doc, the mood of the novel changes to tantalizing hope and expectation. It is a happy novel, with wonderful 'hooptedoodles', that serve as apparent distractions but in the end complete the whole picture of Doc and his mates of Cannery Row.
If I ever write a novel, I would like to write one like this.
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on March 6, 2004
This is Cannery Row part 2, and it does not let up from part one, I'm happy to say. To note, Cannery Row was copyrighted 1945, and Sweet Thursday in 1954. Sweet Thursday opens by letting the reader know that it's after WWII and the boys are coming home from the war, except for Gay. For me, the central character is Doc. I think this is so, because almost all the characters think so highly of him, especially Hazel. Doc has a crisis, and I will not say what it is, but it has made a significant change in Hazel. But getting back to Doc, there is more about him, particularly about how he is "inside" the man of science. When I finished reading I was uplifted and satisfied. I only wish there was a part three somewhere for us to discover in some attic in Salinas. This is a must-have for Steinbeck fans.
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on March 21, 1998
I had read Cannery Row several times before I got my hands on a copy of Sweet Thursday. I was skeptical that a sequel could possibly live up the epic greatness Cannery Row and I was worried that Steinbeck would somehow ruin the wonderful characters of the "palace flophouse." Sweet Thursday is every bit as magical as Cannery Row. The new characters are beautiful and the old characters are so expertly polished that they shine brighter than ever. The book picks up the lives of the Row characters a few years after the events of the first book. Steinbeck masterfully chronicles the rise of an unlikely hero as a frightening crisis threatens the Western Biological Supply. The only mistake I ever made was seeing the movie based on Cannery Row and Sweet Thursday. It was horrible - a crime against Steinbeck.
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on April 30, 2005
This book re introduces the reader to Doc , who was last seen in the book Cannery Row. It is the end of World War 2 and Doc has returned to his home district known as Cannery Row. However something is very amiss in Doc's life. He is depressed and lonely and even his work as a Marine Biologist is no solace to him. Full time bum and drunk (and part time philospher!!!) Mack decides that Doc needs cheering up so he sets about trying to find a woman for Doc. There is a new girl in town who works as an escort and Mack and his friends decide that she is too classy for that profession and try to "hook her up" with Doc with hilarious results. If you think John Steinbeck just wrote serious and sad novels I suggest you read this book. This book is a gem which is often overlooked by Steinbeck readers which is a real shame I think.
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on February 22, 2014
If I were in the book Fahrenheit 451, this is the book I would choose to become. This is a romance set on Cannery Row in Monterey, California after World War II. Doc returns home to find many changes to the neighborhood. Mac and most of the boys are still around, and they see that Doc has changed too. He is having a lot of trouble settling back into his old life at Western Biological. Then a girl named Suzy comes to the block. She is down on her luck, running from something. She takes a job at the Bear Flag Hotel. The new owner of the Bear Flag likes Suzy but soon learns that she is too feisty and opinionated to be a good floozy. Fauna decides she must get rid of Suzy but doesn't want to fire her. She does an astrological chart and decides that Suzy is the right woman for Doc. The wooing begins, and the path of true love is rarely as rough.
I think this little book contains some of Steinbeck's best writing--best writing in a pleasant way. His description of a dinner date with Doc and Suzy is beautiful, as is the description of the perfect day that followed (where the book's title comes from). I think Suzy is one of literature's great characters. She has fallen so low that she takes a job as a prostitute in a brothel, but she is tough and proud.
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on February 24, 2004
I've read this book around 30 times I think since I first found it in High School (30 years ago!) it never came into focus completely until I read the introduction to *Sea of Cortez* about Ed Ricketts. If you never read another book by Steinbeck, read this book, and the prequel *Cannery Row*. I won't spoil it for you... if you don't love Marine Biology before you read it, you will by the end. And you might even find out something about that mystery we call love.
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on February 17, 2014
I read Sweet Thursday when i was fifteen years old and decided i wanted to be a writer. I'm now a published author, but I'm still searching for the insight and empathy to the human condition, evinced by Steinbeck, that moved me to write. The man was larger than himself. He was what writing should give to the reader.Sweet Thursday, the short novel which followed Cannery row and continues with the "Doc' character is, all John Steinbeck, baring his soul. The conversational style, his habit of switching to omniscient view to include the reader into the discovery process are ideas that inspire my own writing to this day. It might be hard to get into , but worth the effort. Sweet Thursday isn't written according to modern accepted style, and an editor would reject it out of hand, but that doesn't keep me from trying to incorporate his easy-going syntax into my own work. Meet Doc and all the denizens of Monterey, CA first in Sweet Thursday, then move onto Cannery Row. Love them all, even the casual whore Doc encounters in the first few pages of Sweet Thursday. "No need to give her a name, she won't be around that long," is your first clue for what a good friend this author is going to be in your life.
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