- Paperback: 214 pages
- Publisher: Corgi Books; 6th print, 1970 edition (January 1, 1967)
- Language: English
- ASIN: B000FJGCU8
- Product Dimensions: 6.9 x 4.1 x 0.7 inches
- Shipping Weight: 5 ounces
- Average Customer Review: 4.4 out of 5 stars See all reviews (43 customer reviews)
- Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #6,099,252 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)
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The Long Valley Paperback – January 1, 1967
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Top Customer Reviews
For the most part, the short stories reveal the same dark universe in which unenlightened and certainly unsaved men struggle to survive, a struggle that they occasionally lose, spiritually if not physically. A certain hunger, an unfulfilled need, and a pre-ordained suffering doom most of Steinbeck's characters. Existence is filled with cruel ironies that dash hope upon the vicious and inescapable rocks of reality. We see happiness in a vicarious dream of escaping the entrapment of an unchanging existence dashed by a pile of flowers unceremoniously dumped in the road. A youth's attainment of manhood is marked not by joy but by the guilt of a murder, ruthless pursuit, and a hard rifle bullet. We see the cultural anchor of a town destroyed by an unimaginable sin. And so the stories go.
Apropos of Steinbeck's view of the human condition is the title of the collection. While "the long valley" certainly describes California's Salinas River valley, the general setting for many of Steinbeck's stories, it also suggests the spiritual valley in which his characters typically dwell.Read more ›
The first two stories are the kind of works that English teachers love to assign; they involve women trying to break out of social roles. In the first story, Steinbeck starts his tale with: "The high grey-flannel fog of winter closed off the Salinas Valley from the sky and from all the rest of the world. On every side it sat like a lid on the mountains and made of the great valley a closed pot." Obviously, someone is trapped. I don't care for these two stories because I've read so many like them over the years, usually at the threatening point of a grading pen.
But as the book progresses, I quickly discovered that Steinbeck is an excellent writer. My favorite stories were "The Harness," "Johnny Bear," "Saint Katy the Virgin," and "The Red Pony." In "Johnny Bear," Steinbeck writes a freaky tale about an idiot savant that has an odd talent, much to the chagrin of the community. I figured out how it was going to end ahead of time, but it was still great fun. "Saint Katy the Virgin" is a strange tale, set in the Middle Ages, about a pig who converts to Christianity.Read more ›
These are beautiful stories, all taking place around Steinbeck's favorite place on earth, Monterey and Salinas Valley in California. The stories are diverse, rich, stunning and original. Please allow yourself the opportunity to read these stories. You will not be disappointed, and the beauty is to feel the heart and soul of the author, John Steinbeck.
The most famous is, of course, "The Red Pony"; all four "parts" appear here and comprise a third of the volume. Some readers mistakenly identify these four tales as a novella, but the stories, while interrelated, are self-contained. (Only the first part is about a red pony; it is also the best of the lot. The fourth part, "The Leader of the People," was added to "The Red Pony" years later, when the four stories were collected into a separate edition.) While often taught in schools, these stories were never meant for very young children--in spite of the title and the subject matter. Concerning a young boy and his relationship with his parents and a wise ranch hand, they are about aging and dying, growing up and growing old, and learning that one's elders are not invincible.
But there are other treasures in "The Long Valley" as well; what is unique about a few of the stories is that, for once, Steinbeck creates distinctive female characters. My favorites are "The Chrysanthemums," about a young woman's dashed dreams; "The White Quail," about a husband's betrayal of his wife's trust; "Flight," about a hunted fugitive; and "The Vigilante," about a lynching--told from the point of view of one of the perpetrators. Far less impressive are "The Snake," which aspires to Poe but is mostly unpleasant, and "The Raid," one of Steinbeck's many (and least inspiring) narratives concerning labor conflict.
The odd story in this collection is "Saint Katy the Virgin," a satirical fable set in the Middle Ages about a demonic pig that converts to Catholicism. It's a hoot.
Most Recent Customer Reviews
English class using this book, I won't say I love it, but it is a good bookPublished 4 months ago by Dylan
Steinbeck was more of a storyteller than an artist. Collection is a mixed bag, with the Red Pony stories being the best.Published 7 months ago by Tomenator
It's a collection of several short stories. I like it very much.Published 7 months ago by PAMELA HITESMAN
A good mix of short stories from my favorite author. Some I found more enjoyable than others.Published 17 months ago by William G