On Cannery Row

One of the many benefits of living in northern California is being immersed in Steinbeck country. I read TRAVELS WITH CHARLEY last year — I’m pretty sure there’s a blog post on here about it — and it ranks as one of my favorite books. It’s one of those books I put off reading for years and years, and then voilà … read it in a day or two and fell in love.

We spent this weekend on Cannery Row. Growing up in Missouri, Cannery Row seemed like certain fiction. It’s still exactly like Steinbeck described it (minus the tourist junk).  Our hotel corridors were lined with photos of the Row back when sardines were the industry and Steinbeck and Doc Ricketts were there. And though the weather can be iffy in February, let me tell you … it was paradise. 75, sunny, and calm.

And being there made me, of course, want to read more Steinbeck.

CANNERY ROW is a favorite. So is EAST OF EDEN, which my book club read last year (thanks, Bonnie). I’ve tried to start THE GRAPES OF WRATH about 10 times. At least. I feel bad that I can’t get going, or rather, I can’t keep going.

Any Steinbeck fans out there?

6 thoughts on “On Cannery Row

  1. Bonnie Middlebrooks

    I agree, living in this part of California makes Steinbeck’s works even more vivid. Driving down highway 101 his locales are evident: THE RED PONY, PASTURES OF HEAVEN and OF MICE AND MEN. In Monterey, SWEET TUESDAY, TORTILLA FLAT and so many of his stories come to life again.

    Yes, I am a fan. Enough of one to have driven to Salinas to the Steinbeck Center. We ate lunch at his home and I tried to determine which building was the drug store that Cathy (EAST OF EDEN) went to for her drugs. It is amazing that the town still has that feel that he so eloquently described in his stories.

    GRAPES OF WRATH is hard to get into. Will that turtle cross the road? But it is a tragic story with political meaning that still rings true, in part, today. Finish it. Like TRAVELS WITH CHARLEY it changed him. It seems that the backlash to GRAPES OF WRATH caused him to stop writing fiction. What a tragedy.

    1. Teri Post author

      Will that turtle ever cross the road?! Exactly. All that red dirt and brutal sun beating down, no food and no means to get the food, the suffering. When I saw Michael Moore get the Steinbeck Award last year, he read passages from The Grapes of Wrath — and sadly, devastatingly, those passages sounded like he could have been describing parts of the U.S. today, like Detroit.

  2. Jim

    I lived in San Francisco for three years, many years ago, and still miss it and all of Northern CA. Like you, I’m a native Midwesterner. San Francisco was like Shangri-La.

  3. glasseye

    My dad adored Steinbeck and made me read The Red Pony and The Grapes of Wrath (still one of my all-time favorite titles). I have a feeling I read those books at the wrong time, and might appreciate them more if I returned to them as an adult.

  4. Les Brady

    You know, I was never a big Steinbeck fan, but I really enjoyed Cannery Row when we read it in Shillinglaw’s class.

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