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Cannery Row: (Centennial Edition) Paperback – Deckle Edge, February 5, 2002
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“Steinbeck has compounded a bitter and uproariously funny commentary on the futility of human aspiration and the barrenness of existence . . . an extraordinary mixture of wild laughter and searing pain.” The New York Herald Tribune
“It’s one of the most thoroughly enjoyable and delicious books you’ll ever have the fortune to read.” Chicago Sun Times
“Everything is always somehow overlaid with laughter, the special kind of laughter and contentment with one’s lot, however humble, that only John Steinbeck can put into words. . . . John Steinbeck sees his characters with deep compassion as well as amusement.” Chicago Sunday Tribune
About the Author
John Steinbeck, born in Salinas, California, in 1902, grew up in a fertile agricultural valley, about twenty-five miles from the Pacific Coast. Both the valley and the coast would serve as settings for some of his best fiction. In 1919 he went to Stanford University, where he intermittently enrolled in literature and writing courses until he left in 1925 without taking a degree. During the next five years he supported himself as a laborer and journalist in New York City, all the time working on his first novel, Cup of Gold (1929).
After marriage and a move to Pacific Grove, he published two California books, The Pastures of Heaven (1932) and To a God Unknown (1933), and worked on short stories later collected in The Long Valley (1938). Popular success and financial security came only with Tortilla Flat (1935), stories about Monterey’s paisanos. A ceaseless experimenter throughout his career, Steinbeck changed courses regularly. Three powerful novels of the late 1930s focused on the California laboring class: In Dubious Battle (1936), Of Mice and Men (1937), and the book considered by many his finest, The Grapes of Wrath (1939). The Grapes of Wrath won both the National Book Award and the Pulitzer Prize in 1939.
Early in the 1940s, Steinbeck became a filmmaker with The Forgotten Village (1941) and a serious student of marine biology with Sea of Cortez (1941). He devoted his services to the war, writing Bombs Away (1942) and the controversial play-novelette The Moon is Down (1942). Cannery Row (1945), The Wayward Bus (1948), another experimental drama, Burning Bright (1950), and The Log from the Sea of Cortez (1951) preceded publication of the monumental East of Eden (1952), an ambitious saga of the Salinas Valley and his own family’s history.
The last decades of his life were spent in New York City and Sag Harbor with his third wife, with whom he traveled widely. Later books include Sweet Thursday (1954), The Short Reign of Pippin IV: A Fabrication (1957), Once There Was a War (1958), The Winter of Our Discontent (1961), Travels with Charley in Search of America (1962), America and Americans (1966), and the posthumously published Journal of a Novel: The East of Eden Letters (1969), Viva Zapata! (1975), The Acts of King Arthur and His Noble Knights (1976), and Working Days: The Journals of The Grapes of Wrath (1989).
Steinbeck received the Nobel Prize in Literature in 1962, and, in 1964, he was presented with the United States Medal of Freedom by President Lyndon B. Johnson. Steinbeck died in New York in 1968. Today, more than thirty years after his death, he remains one of America's greatest writers and cultural figures.
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Top customer reviews
I guess I never realized how much writing technique has changed over the years. This book make me understand the difference between then and now. It is all about a bunch of misplaced men making do with what little they have and being happy, not drowning in sorrow. Helping each other even if not totally understanding that other person. I enjoyed the book and recommend it for non-mystery readers.
Enough has been written about the novel itself to make my own analysis redundant, except to say that it's just as he described: a view through a peephole of everybody. With one view, they are whores, pimps, gamblers and sons of bitches. With the next view, the same people are saints, angels, martyrs and holy men.
After reading the book, I found I was having to spend time traveling around the country with my work. So, I took to listening to books on tape. When I first found the tape cassette version of Cannery Row, read by Jerry Farden, I was very quickly hooked.
But, as cassette users know by experience, over time the tapes grow tired, the sound likewise. I longed to have had the insight to copy the tapes to CD when the quality was at its best, but it was not to be. I read the book from time to time, and that was it.
Then I discovered that this CD release was available. I'm delighted.
The audiobook is no less alive than it was all those years ago. As I originally wrote in a review for the cassette version, this is a superb example of the ease with which his written-to-be-read work translates to a spoken-to-be-heard medium.
Now, it's even better. The tracks on each CD are separated into small segments around a few minutes long, but they aren't apparent when you listen to the CD as a whole. For those of us who don't have the luxury or inclination to listen to an entire CD without a break, that is invaluable. It's a simple matter to return to whichever point you left and pick up the tale again.
A word about Jerry Farden: I haven't been able to find out much about the man, despite his having read his way through several audiobooks.
His reading of Cannery Row is superb; his tones and modulation are perfect for Cannery Row, but his voice doesn't stand out as a man reading a book. It's almost not there.
The most important thing that Farden accomplishes is not speaking the words so much as deliver them to you and let them crawl in by themselves.
And that's always been the best way to encounter Cannery Row.