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Cannery Row Review.

Cannery Row Review.

Ratings: (0)|Views: 41|Likes:
Published by Nemo Karlsson Asp
This is a review of John Steinbeck's novel "Cannery Row" that I have written. I am a student at the Nordiska Musikgymnasiet in Stockholm, Sweden, and my first-language is Swedish so my English grammar might not be as good as for example Harry Potter. :D
This is a review of John Steinbeck's novel "Cannery Row" that I have written. I am a student at the Nordiska Musikgymnasiet in Stockholm, Sweden, and my first-language is Swedish so my English grammar might not be as good as for example Harry Potter. :D

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Published by: Nemo Karlsson Asp on Jan 07, 2011
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03/23/2011

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Cannery Row.
A review by Nemo Karlsson Asp, MU1.
9/10
Cannery Row is a book about many people, places and happenings. The author, JohnSteinbeck, was born 1902 and grew up in California, United States. He has writtenmany books, and Cannery Row was published in 1945, but the story takes place in thelate 1930’s, in a city part in Monterey called Cannery Row.Cannery Row lies at the coast. Its inhabitants are a variety of different personalities,backgrounds and feelings. Steinbeck starts the book by introducing some of the majorplaces and prepares me for some of the characters I am about to meet in the story, in aprequel-like chapter which begins like this:
“Cannery Row in Monterey in California is a poem, a stink, a grating noise, a qualityof light, a tone, a habit, a nostalgia, a dream”
It is a great way to start a book; since he only tells me a little about the inhabitants, heentices you to read more;
“Doc strolls from the Western Biological Laboratory and crosses the street to LeeChong’s grocery for two quarts of beer. Henri the painter noses like an Airedalethrough the junk in the grass-grown lot for some part or piece or wood or metal heneeds for the boat building”
The prequel is followed by the first chapter, in which you hear conversations betweendifferent people. We have Doc, a man who collects animals because of medical reason,Mack’s gang, a little, perhaps sometimes sad group of men who sometimes have a job,sometimes not, and Lee Chong, a man from China who works at the grocery store.And don’t forget Dora, the boss of the “Bear Flag” (a brothel).It is those characters who mostly return in the book. Cannery Row’s main plot is thatMack and his gang wants to do something nice for Doc; he is a helpful and nice manwho often is considered the local doctor, although he is officially not one. But it is notevery chapter that follows
them
. Actually, their views on things are only represented insomewhat half of the chapters. To really explain this town, Steinbeck chooses to putsome other people’s experiences and happenings in almost every second chapter. Youfollow Doc’s life in most of them, but sometimes, small stories from other people popup. And this is brilliantly written, not only because Steinbeck writes beautifullypoetry-like and engaging, but also because you never really get tired of it; when achapter with Mack’s gang comes to an end, it is followed by something completelydifferent. A great way to show a society!Most of the A to B to A conversations are in the “Mack-chapters” and the “Doc-chapters”, the others are often more told from the author’s view.An example of this is when Steinbeck writes about two soldiers and two girls, walkingin the dawn. He begins with describing the Cannery Row morning-feeling with
“in the gray time after the light has come and before the sun has risen”
.Then he continues with describing the young ones walking and the happiness insidethem. They sit down near a train station and a caretaker says to them that they can notsit there. But they ignore him, and continue with their business.
 
Another interesting thing with Steinbeck’s writing is that he sometimes, in the middleof a chapter, really explodes into something he really wants to tell the reader. I have anexample here that pops up in the middle of a chapter when a man from Mack’s gang istrying to fix a T-Ford:
“Two generations of Americans knew more about the Ford coil than the clitoris, about the planetary system of gears than the solar system of stars
[…]
Most of the babies of the period were conceived in Model T Fords and not a few where born in them”
He writes over half a page about why somebody should write an essay about the car.Even if some may see these “pop-ups facts” as annoying, I see them as a good way toget into the time period, the culture. In fact, I really like it!One other thing I like with Steinbeck is the way he sometimes puts in beautifullandscape-depictions. Sometimes in the middle of a chapter, but sometimes it is almostan entire one. Steinbeck’s love of describing California became significant during hislife as an author.Even though Mack’s gang may seem sad when you first get to known them, you seesmall glimpses here and there, and it is lovely to see the significant change when theyacquire a new friend…Mack’s personality is very interesting; sometimes you do not really know whether heis being nice to someone for his gang’s own good or just for being nice. Doc is alwayspretty nice and a father-figure-like character. But in the end of the book, your view of him dramatically changes. I think that Doc’s final chapters literally were not welldone. I did not really get a chance to understand why things happened the way theydid.In a book like this, it is ought to be a lot of hidden messages. And I think there is,actually. One scene, where Mack and his fellows are in a pond, trying to catch frogsfor Doc, it sounds like this:
“But the majority decided to leave this pool forever, to find a new home in a newcountry where this kind of thing didn’t happen. A wave of frantic, frustrated frogs, bigones, little ones, brown ones, green ones, men frogs and women frogs
[…]
Theyclambered up the grass, they clutched at each other, little ones rode on big ones. And then—horror on horror—the flashlights found them.
After I had read this, I found myself thinking of refugees fleeing from a war, feelingsmall and helpless. The first sentence clearly sends a message that one perhaps shouldinterpret this like I did.Steinbeck writes a lot about loneliness in this book. There are a few examples of people (only men, actually) that in one or another way lives alone. One of thoseexamples is a man named Henri. He is building a boat (which is also his home) andhas done so for many years. He never finishes it; when he is almost ready to set out tosea, he dismantles it and starts to build again. This is because he is afraid of sailing.This way of living is reflected in his relationships; they only last a few months becauseall the women chooses to abandon him for comfort-related reasons (Henri’s boat doesnot have a WC for example).

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