On Our Bookshelves – Cannery Row

“Cannery Row in Monterey in California is a poem, a stink, a grating noise, a quality of light, a tone, a habit, a nostalgia, a dream.”

NOVEL: Cannery Row

AUTHOR: John Steinbeck


Bums. Whores. The other denizens of Cannery Row. Their desire? To do something nice for Doc, a stand-up guy.

There is really no plot other than everyone wanting to have a party for their man of the hour.

The first party gets out of control; the second party, to make amends for the first, is a success.

In between bashes you meet a host of colorful characters. There’s Mac and the boys of the Palace Flophouse; Dora and the girls of the Bear Flag Restaurant; Lee Chong at his grocery; and, of course, Doc of Western Biological Laboratories, Monterey, California.

Steinbeck’s nostalgic look at Cannery Row is probably not one of the books the Nobel Prize Committee took into account before bestowing him their award, but for a pure fun read this is Johnny at his best.

RATING (one to five whistles, with five being the best): Five Whistles.


* The character of Doc is based on Steinbeck’s friend Ed Ricketts.

* Skip the 1982 movie version.


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Lead-In Photo Courtesy of bikeriderlondon / Shutterstock.com