This volume contains some of the earlier works of John Steinbeck. Steinbeck was a master of the English language and had the talent of using the least amount of words to convey the greatest amount of emotions. His stories are moving without being cheap. He is compassionate and had keen insight into his characters and the world at large.
Reviewing each story that appears in this volume is beyond the scope of this review, and you should check out that various titles individually. I will just say a few words about the collection in general. Steinbeck's earlier works are, in my opinion, better than his later, more ambitious works. While his later works can be viewed as some sort of social criticism, these earlier works are simply his personal salute to human nature. Steinbeck knew a basic truth about writing - if you want to write a great book, before you have a great theme, make sure you have great characters, and the rest will follow.
Steinbeck is both profound and very accessible at the same time, which I think is the trademark of a great author. He wrote for ordinary people (unlike, say, Joyce), and at the same time his works are complex enough to be appreciated by scholars. Whatever group you belong to, you will not regret reading this book.