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on 21 April 2016
A typically skilled and lyrical look at Steinbeck's beloved California. Filled with love and hate and tragedy and comedy and written with his customary endless compassion and wisdom, this is a quick read, written more as a series of inter-linked short stories than a linear novel. You will meet an array of characters that will not disappoint, all located in beautifully drawn locations in or around Cannery Row - and what wonderful pictures he paints in such relatively sparing prose. I have never read a Steinbeck that hasn't made me laugh out loud or cry like a baby - most often in the same book - this was no exception.
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on 13 November 2015
What a wonderfully descriptive cornucopia of wisdom, wit and wonder. Steinbeck has penned an absolute stunner in this little gem of a book. I first read him in my teens and had forgotten the ease of his word-flow and the beauty of his image-construction. His command of the ability to create the mental image is unsurpassed. A genius at story-telling.

I was delighted at the expert manner in which he developed the workings and motivations of each character, with their actions confirming the simplicity of their lives. The story has no particular plot, just meanders on from day to day.

The characters in Cannery Row are, without exception, society’s outcasts: Drunkards, thieves, prostitutes, gamblers and down-on-their-luck businessmen. From reading this you would be forgiven for thinking this story would be bleak or perhaps unpleasant. Nothing could be further from the truth. From big-brain Doc, through all the other brain sizes, down to Frankie, behaviours are analyzed, wisdom is implied and actions are described to explain the obvious.

It's refreshing to read about characters who genuinely love life. There isn't a whole lot of brooding or introverted thoughts; just a small group with tenuous links in common getting on with their lives and co-existing. There is a subtle thread of mutual love and friendship throughout.

I found the book uplifting and fun to read. There is tragedy and sadness but also great and simple joys and an honest way of living which has perhaps been lost these days. I don't envy any of their hard lives but in the midst of their poverty, crime and immoral behaviour Steinbeck has fashioned a flowing and delightful tale.
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on 13 April 2017
Steinbeck's tales and verbal pictures of this small plot of land and the characters are full of life and feel so real one might think that Doc of any of the characters from the Palace Flophouse were sitting next to you pondering over a glass of beer. I did spend a lot of the first few chapters feeling a bit bemused as I tried to work out what the point was, but got gathered up in the light, deft descriptions, sinewy characterisations and matter-of-factly impossible situations, so that the lack of a point didn't matter. Not a book I would have chosen to read,but I am glad I did.
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HALL OF FAMEon 25 October 2008
'Cannery Row' is Steinbeck at his best. From the first page you know you are in for another beautifully written book with his lush descriptions, wry sense of humour and wonderful characterisations. Looking at life on Cannery Row and following the exploits of a house of bums, a whore house, a doc and a grocery store, to name a few, this book has delights on every page. I was completely engrossed in this book for the two days that I sped though it, it was so hard to put down and then I was left disappointed that I'd finished so soon. A mark of a brilliant book I find. There are so many touches I could comment on, it is hard to know where to start, from Macks cheeky and inoffensive scams, to Lee Chongs and Doc's resignation to them and way more besides, this book has funny and touching moments in spades. I can only suggest you read this book soon and let another Steinbeck masterpiece enrich your life.

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on 25 September 2014
Cannery Row is the first Steinbeck that I read. I've gone on to read several others since, but it's the one that I like the most. It's a simple view of depression era life told with a wonderful humanity.
There are several scenes that are laugh out loud funny, such as the frog hunt, but it's the love of people that comes through most strongly that endeared me most.
It's a short book, but every page is a wonder. Must buy.
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on 20 June 2017
After a visit to the real cannery row, I was given this book. Wow! Loved it. How have I missed John Steinbeck?

The story is about the live and times of some real characters on this infamous stretch of the Monterey coast. Working in the cannery will not be what they are reduced to but any other way of making a living is ok. John Steinbeck has a lovely way of drawing you in and making you feel that you are oat of this life. A wonderfully written classic.
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on 12 January 2010
I love just about everything Steinbeck has ever written but there is a special place in my heart, and on my shelf, for this little gem. I have read it loads of times and will undoubtedly read it many more times in years to come. It is the characters I like, and that make this book, and Steinbeck's gentle and assured story. There is no big theme here, it is a simple revelation of the lives and people in a down at heel part of town called Cannery Row. Each character and incident is drawn with wonderful clarity and a concision that verges on poetry. Steinbeck wrote a follow up to Cannery Row - Sweet Thursday - continuing the story of these same character, and it too is a lovely read. I only wish he had written a series of them.
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on 27 March 2013
If, like me you are a fan of the director Mike lee, then you never really expect a beginning, middle and end. Just a series of sketches and events: some hillarious, some pathetic. Once again JS writes with great affection about a bunch of bums who rub along with their community without alienating themselves too much. In one episode they get to taste some moonshine and JS tells of the event: "They swallowed, tasted their tongues, sucked their lips, and there was a far-away look in their eyes. Mack peered into his empty glass as though some holy message were written in the bottom." Story telling does not get much better that that.
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on 16 January 2014
The characters in this small book are brought vividly to life as is the world they inhabit, they may be bums and prostitutes but they all display humanity and kindness - they all have a soul. The hilarious escapades of Mack and the boys invariably end in disaster but are undertaken out of kindness and you feel their sense of failure and shame at the outcome. A superb read that had me laughing all the way.
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on 14 March 2014
This is another of Steinbecks' well observed and poetically written novels. As you come to expect from his work the characters are all sympathetically and lovingly detailed, even the worst of them have their good points. I didn't feel it was in quite same league as some of his other books, it did not have the stark despair and hard hitting realism of GOR, EOE and IDB but it's not the same type of novel, I suppose. Oh and I reckon Doc is Ed Ricketts
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