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The Red Pony Paperback – 3 Mar 2011


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Product details

  • Paperback: 128 pages
  • Publisher: Puffin (3 Mar. 2011)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0141332905
  • ISBN-13: 978-0141332901
  • Product Dimensions: 12.9 x 0.7 x 19.8 cm
  • Average Customer Review: 4.1 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (18 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: 152,971 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

More About the Author

John Steinbeck is perhaps best known for Of Mice and Men and The Grapes of Wrath, which led to his Nobel Prize for Literature award in 1962. Born in Salinas, California in 1902, Steinbeck grew up in a fertile agricultural valley about twenty-five miles from the Pacific Coast: both valley and 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 labourer 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 labouring class: In Dubious Battle (1936), Of Mice and Men (1937), and the book considered by many his finest, The Grapes of Wrath (1939).

Being partly based on his own experiences as a travelling worker, Steinbeck originally wanted Of Mice and Men to be titled 'Something That Happened'. The book explores themes of powerlessness, loneliness and empathy and received the greatest positive critical response of any of his works up to that point. It has achieved success as a novel, a Broadway play and three acclaimed films.

Steinbeck's compassionate depiction of the poor in The Grapes of Wrath helped the book become an immediate publishing phenomenon, discussed on a national scale and becoming an instant bestseller. The book was described by the Nobel Prize committee as a "great work" and stated that it was one of the main reasons for granting Steinbeck the Nobel Prize for Literature in 1962.

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)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).

He died in 1968, having won a Nobel Prize in 1962.

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Customer Reviews

4.1 out of 5 stars

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

17 of 19 people found the following review helpful By mike_c_knight@hotmail.com on 18 Mar. 2002
Format: Paperback
The Red pony is a story of a boy and the pony he is given and subsequently dies, that is essentially the story. However the greatness of this book, as is so often the case with Steinbeck is not the story but the writing, and this is written well, very well in fact. With a fairly limited storyline Steinbeck has to rely on his writing ability as he so often does with the likes of the Wayward Bus, Cannery Row and even to a certain extent East of Eden and the Pullitzer winning Grapes of Wrath. It his undeniable that Steinbeck is one of the most important authors of the 20th century but still his lesser known works go largely unnoticed, it is also true that works such as the Red Pony have a place in our society and should be enjoyed a great deal more than they are. Naturally, when considering the other works that Steinbeck has sculpted it is understandable if some others fall by the wayside but the Red Pony should not be one of them. It is short and concise and should you be looking for something to fill a rainy afternoon and can't bring yourself to go to the video rental store then this is the book you should be reading.
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3 of 3 people found the following review helpful By J. Giest on 2 Oct. 2010
Format: Kindle Edition
This was the book that started it all for me. The stories are short and to the point and yet as always with Steinbeck this collection packs punch. Like Steinbeck himself the details are raw and gritty with the life of southern California. Some may find parts of the story morbidly intense but it all feeds into the realism that the author was aiming to create. That clean and brutal kind of writing is just what attracts me to him.

Steinbeck is possibly the most real writer I have ever come across. Even his own life becomes transparent through his work. The Red Pony is still a great favourite and I cannot recommend it enough.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful By Rob on 20 Jan. 2012
Format: Audio CD Verified Purchase
I think it is a shame that The Red Pony is sold as a short novel rather than a collection of short stories about the same character.

Apparently, it was originally written as short stories, and (in my opinion anyway) is much better judged as short stories.

Judged as a novel, it seems a bit disjointed and the fourth chapter in particular seems out of place. The ending of the 3rd chapter is powerful, and links up with the first chapter (with the 2nd chapter as a bit of an interlude), but then the last chapter seems out of place. It felt odd to me. I even went back to listen to it again, thinking I must have missed something. If it had ended after the third chapter, the ending would have been perfect.

It was only after reading that it had originally been written as individual stories that I got it. The fourth story is fine (though probably the weakest), but just seems out of place.

Read (listen to) the first 3 stories as one novel or set of stories, and then read the last story as a separate self-contained story, and I think it makes more sense. At least, that's my thought.
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By GlynLuke TOP 500 REVIEWER on 4 Aug. 2014
Format: Paperback
John Steinbeck could be as subtle as any writer when he wanted to be. These four discrete but connected stories, all set on and around a ranch in pre-war California and highlighting the growing pains of 'the little boy Jody' who is ten and longing to be a grown-up, though not relishing too many adult responsibilities, are written with both great compassion and relaxed concision. One thing they most definitely are not is children`s stories, though they happen to be about a child.
Whether it`s the gift of a pony, the promise of a mare`s colt, his fascination for the range of mountains beyond the little world of the ranch, or the tales of his visiting grandfather - who once, so he never tires of reminding all and sundry, led a wagon train going west - all are grist to the churning mill of Jody`s growing up rites of passage, described with much sentiment but little sentimentality by this truly great writer.
I`ve come to revere Steinbeck, and consider him, along with Melville, Twain, Jack London, Scott Fitzgerald, Carson McCullers, Richard Yates, and Cormac McCarthy as an indisputably great American fiction writer. There`s an expansive, resonant quality he shares with the above which makes most of his books not only unique experiences but works to return to again and again.
The Red Pony stories have a subtlety and resonance not perhaps immediately apparent but which linger in the mind long after one has closed this short book. I find the same effect with the two connected books Cannery Row and Sweet Thursday, which for me contain the best of Steinbeck - his humour, some anger, much passion, and a feeling for the 'ordinary' man and woman. That same fellow feeling is here in these delightful, gemlike tales.

Recommended.
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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful By Debs G on 9 Nov. 2012
Format: Paperback
This is a wonderful little book. I had first read this as a schoolgirl and the tale had stayed with me which is why I chose to buy the book many years later! I was not disappointed. I recommend this book most highly.
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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful By Litcrit. on 10 Dec. 2012
Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
This book was recommended by another teacher. My students thought it took a while to get involved but they all enjoyed it and it generated some good work by them. There is a film.
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By T. Bently VINE VOICE on 13 Feb. 2012
Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
Steinbeck fans coming to The Red Pony after The Grapes of Wrath or Of Mice and Men may be a little perplexed. It reads more like a connected series of four short stories than a novel and only the first of these features the red pony of the title.

The introduction by John Seelye in this Penguin Classic edition is, by turns, enlightening and annoying. He argues against other critics' readings of Steinbeck as a sentamentalist, examines whether The Red Pony is autobiographical and expresses amazement that Steinbeck managed to write it whilst caring for his elderly parents - a task many female authors face without plaudits.

I'm a fan of short stories generally and enjoyed this book. It does lack the strong plot of his more famous works but I loved the scenes of a ten-year-old boy growing up on a farm, particularly the fragile friendship between Jody and his grandfather described in the final pages. I also liked the new cover - a photo of a group of farm hands. A great improvement on the bright red horse's head previously!
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