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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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on 22 May 2017
Great story. Our book group enjoyed v much
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on 4 May 2017
Great book, Thank You for fast delivery.
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on 30 January 2017
Delightful and often funny 1945 novel about the small Californian boat-building, fishing and fish-canning town of Monterey CA. It highlights a colourful mix of unusual individuals, incl. six men and their dog who live in a former fishmeal storeroom and their interactions, shared values and transactions, which often defy economic sense. Its descriptive and narrative power is awesome. It contains memorable characters, notably saint-like marine biologist Doc, primus inter pares of the gang of 6 Mack and shop owner Lee Chong, along many others. Steinbeck occasionally expands on Monterey’s or an individual’s past, but his cast of misfits never worries about the future. They are untouched by the virus of capitalism. They are happy together...
A ten minute online search shows how deeply autobiographical this book is. But please do so after finishing this fantastic novel full of philosophical and (early) environmental undercurrents. While reading, you can play Doc’s musical favourites via YouTube. Full of tall stories and anecdotes. Compulsive reading stuff and highly recommended.
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on 4 March 2017
I love all Steinbeck books and this particular reading is very good.....
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on 12 March 2011
Cannery Row is a short book written by Steinbeck as a tribute to his upbringing in California. It is an excellent read full of humour and drama.

The characters in Cannery Row are, without exception, societies 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.

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 mutal love and friendship in among the grime of their existence.

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 alot of joy and decency can be found.

On top of all this I love the front cover of this addition. A very powerful book but also great fun.
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TOP 500 REVIEWERon 14 January 2016
I have to say that the thing I loved most about this book was the vocabulary. I wasn't aware that I had been missing beautiful colourful descriptions using a wide range of adjectives until I read this book. The descriptions in this book are wonderful & really paint a picture. I loved the book for this. However, that appeared to be all there was. Wonderful descriptions of people & places but no significant story. There were descriptions of events that happened but very little in the way of a story to join them all together.
As a piece of descriptive writing I can't fault this book. As for a gripping storyline it just wasn't in sight.
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on 24 April 2017
Not my favourite Steinbeck, but a vibrant and nostalgic set of stories set in post depression era California.
It has Steinbecks trademark warmth for character and interest in those on the fringes of society.
This is an interesting bitter-sweet mix of the comic and at times darker issues.
Sometimes it felt perhaps a little too unrealistic, with a small set of local vagrants portreyed too much like 'loveable rogues'. You might perhaps think it like Norman Rockwell in leaning a little too much on the nostalgic.
But there is warmth and heart here too.
Worth your time.
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on 21 August 2008
Cannery Row is the fourth Steinbeck novel I've read in succession, and for me it stands out as the finest; quite simply I've never been more captivated by a fictional place, or its characters, than I have been whilst reading this novel.

Cannery Row centres on life upon a small strip of largely dilapidated land situated next to a sardine cannery in Monterey Bay. It's the 1930s, the time of the Great Depression, and the story follows the daily interactions between the mainly down-trodden residents. These residents (all of whom symbolically represent various class structures in society) are primarily comprised of: Lee Chong, the Chinese grocer, Mac and 'the boys' who reside in a `refurbished' storage hut loving christened the Palace Flop-house, Doc who runs the marine laboratory, and Dora, the owner of the Bear Flag restaurant, which in actuality is a house of ill-repute.

Given Mr. Steinbeck's incredible talent for creating remarkable characters, and settings (something which I've discovered in ALL of the his books that I've read), I'm not surprised I'm so enamoured with Cannery Row, there's just something so magical about each and every one of them. This is the first novel I've finished where the characters, and the place, have carried on living in my head; out of nowhere I suddenly begin wondering how Doc's getting on in his laboratory, or whether Mac and the boys have managed to get up on their luck, if Mr. Chong is still in his sentinel position in his shop, behind the cigar counter, or if Dora's place is busy or not.

I have to say though, that I found no real story behind Cannery Row. As I found with other Steinbeck novels, the onus of the story is all about the characters and how they interact with one another, rather than any hugely engaging plot. The lack of plot should not put anyone off reading Cannery Row though. What story there is, is perfectly constructed to both engage the reader, and to provide the `props' and setting for a level of sublime character interaction. In that respect, the story can be viewed as a work of absolute genius, and in my mind it is.

Another thing that Cannery Row demonstrated beautifully to me, is how talented Mr. Steinbeck is at making something stunning out of the ordinary, especially when describing surrounding scenery. His description of an empty weed-covered lot, makes it sound as though he describing the Garden of Eden, and of particular magnificence is his description of what he calls `pearl time', the time of day when night ends but the sun has not yet begun rising. It is during this `magical time' that `weeds are a brilliant green', `the corrugated iron of the canneries glows with the pearly lucence' and the cats `drip over the fences and slither like syrup over the ground'. Magnificent!!

I think you know by now then, that I LOVE Cannery Row and as such I wholeheartedly encourage you to read it, if you haven't done so already. I've mentioned that the place and the characters have gone on `living in my head', and if that isn't testament to the power of this novel, then I don't know what is.
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on 30 August 2001
John Steinbeck was (and still is, although he's dead) one of the most respected and revered writers to come out of America and, if you read this book, you'll see why. Set in a tiny comunity attached to the tuna canneries near Monterey in California during the Great Depression of the 1930s, the reader is introduced to a magical world where friendship and camaraderie fill empty bellies. Mack and the boys, Lee Chong and Doc are the central characters, around which Steinbeck has built a literary cathedral of 'belly-laughter' humour, pathos and subtle wit. This was the first of Steinbeck's books which I read and I found it to be the perfect introduction to his others. I challenge anyone with a soul to read this work of pure brilliance and not want to be there, be part of the story. If you can read this book without laughing out loud, go and see your doctor, because there's something wrong with you. After reading Cannery Row, read Sweet Thursday and Tortilla Flat, then you're ready for The Grapes of Wrath.
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