Posts Tagged ‘great depression’

Cannery Row

Saturday, May 30th, 2015 | Books

John Steinbeck is better known for his serious and deeply-moving novels, notably The Grapes of Wrath. However, he did have a sense of humour too and wrote several darkly satirical novels, one of which was Cannery Row.

Set in a working sea-front town in the Great Depression, Cannery Row reminded me every much of Catch-22. Probably because both of the audiobooks I have had the same author. But Heller and Steinbeck display the same utterly dry sense of humour when it comes to writing about less-than-ideal conditions for humans to live in.

It’s fairly short, especially compared to some of his other works, and wanders around with a much more relaxed feel to the plot line.


The Grapes of Wrath

Monday, March 18th, 2013 | Books

Having finished the very serious, adult and deep prose of J. K. Rowling’s Harry Potter series recently, I decided it was time to read something a bit more lighthearted. John Steinbeck’s The Grapes of Wrath seemed a good choice. I had already read Of Mice and Men, which is enjoyable and I would recommend if only so people get my references, and was eager to read his works further.

It’s considered Steinbeck’s seminal work, winning the Pulitzer Prize and being cited as a key reason for Steinbeck being awarded the Nobel Prize for Literature in 1962. It’s easy to see why – the powerful, touching and vivid description of people struggling through the Great Depression is one of the most moving texts I have ever read.

The book tells the family of the Joad family, who lose their farm in Oklahoma, and are forced to travel to California to find work, only to find the grass isn’t so green as they were lead to believe. Or, more accurately, that the grass is greener, but the machinery of society we have build up – the banks, the economics and the systems of government – prevent the poorest from walking on it.

Steinbeck’s vivid language paints a detailed picture of life during the Great Depression, providing a thought provoking insight to the suffering, without dwelling on it any longer than required. The monster of the system we have created is deconstructed in a way still relevant today. As the story goes on, you feel their frustration, their anger and the unfairness of their plight.

Like many for the Great Depression, the novel doesn’t have a happy ending. Or more accurately, an ending. It isn’t an unhappy one – just one without conclusion, as the family are left to continue to struggle on, without much food or money, and with winter on the way.

On a lighter note though, I have fallen in love with the name Rose of Sharon, pronounced Rosasharn. Definitely a contentor if I ever have a daughter.