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Cannery Row: (Centennial Edition)

Average Rating 4
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Most Helpful Favorable Review

7 out of 7 people found this review helpful.

A reviewer

At first when I started Cannery Row, I figured it was going to be a boring story I might not finish. As I read further, it grew better. Cannery Row tells the story of the local characters living and working around an area of defunct canning factories, set in the 1940'...
At first when I started Cannery Row, I figured it was going to be a boring story I might not finish. As I read further, it grew better. Cannery Row tells the story of the local characters living and working around an area of defunct canning factories, set in the 1940's. It feels like the biography of a small town, with the setting and emotions, as characters. This stands out from other stories because it feels gritty, but it is not a sad, disgusting gritty it is more a melancholy, sleepy sort of gritty. The story has the feeling of a perpetual Sunday morning, being laid back, but without the worries of Monday. Even though Cannery Row is sleepy and meanders along, the humor is not. Sometimes, the humor isn¿t obvious you won¿t know something is going to be funny right off, instead you¿ll unconsciously get the joke later in the story. Other times, the humor builds up like suspense and you¿ll know what¿s coming long before the characters know anything is wrong. The first few chapters are short stories they set up the characters so you¿ll understand everyone¿s motives and personalities during the main plot. The characters are well developed, forming great mind pictures from the shrewd general store owner Lee Chong, Doc the kind and quiet marine biologist, to Mack the carefree, almost philosophical leader of the bums at the Palace Flophouse. The story is also compelling because of the variety of subjects. I found the parts about Doc¿s job of collecting fish and seashells interesting because I knew nothing about it detail Steinbeck went into led you to feel as if you were with doc, knee deep in clear seawater learning about the ocean firsthand. Doc and the girl in the water was attention-grabbing and sad because nothing like it had happened previously in the story. Also the different types of stories within the main story added curiosity. Steinbeck takes time exploring each character¿s past actions, which makes this story a great melting pot of emotions and feelings. If you aren¿t interested in books with ¿meaning¿, and you only enjoy books with action filled plots, you might not want to read this now. If you only read a few books during your lifetime, make this one of them.

posted by Anonymous on November 28, 2007

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Most Helpful Critical Review

4 out of 5 people found this review helpful.

look deeper

When I first started reading Cannery Row, I hated it. Absolutely hated it. I thought it was a drug out story with no plot and these stupid little interchapters between. But, I forced myself to read more, and it got better. It got better because I understood it more. ...
When I first started reading Cannery Row, I hated it. Absolutely hated it. I thought it was a drug out story with no plot and these stupid little interchapters between. But, I forced myself to read more, and it got better. It got better because I understood it more. Cannery Row isn't about the story, it's about what's behind it. There are so many themes and lessons that will shine through if you take the time to look back and reflect after you finish the novel. I HIGHLY recommend reading the introduction by Susan Shillinglaw after you read the book, because that's when it will make sense. THEN THE READER CAN TRULY APPRECIATE THE BOOK, AND TAKE SOMETHING AWAY FROM IT AS WELL.

posted by Anonymous on August 21, 2006

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  • Anonymous

    Posted January 21, 2010

    A classic!

    Although this book does not have a plot, it was one of the best book I have ever read. The way Steinback writes this books is fluid, vivid and absolutely beautiful. After reading the first few pages, you just get sucked into the story and you can't wait to find out how the fate of the characters plays out. Beautiful!!

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  • Anonymous

    Posted November 4, 2005

    Great characters but no plot

    ¿Cannery Row¿, for the most part, does not have a plot. Mostly it covers the misadventures of a group of men in ¿Cannery Row¿ known as Mack and the boys. To many, they are considered social outcasts avoiding work and fancy ladies they are seen as philosophers in their time. Everyone in the town knows that any dealing with them almost always ends disastrously, but their efforts are always done with the best intentions. Many times throughout the book Mack and the boys attempt to do something nice for the nicest guy in town, known simply as ¿Doc¿. After a disastrous first attempt at a party, Mack and the boys isolate themselves from everyone else and their social standings in the town as it is sinks even lower. By putting time and effort into their next party, everyone in town, including, Dora the manager of a local bar, Henri, a painter, Lee Chong, the owner of the grocery store down the street, and many others come to the party to celebrate Doc¿s birthday. Due to the tremendous success of the party, Mack and the boys are redeemed in the eyes of Doc and the rest of the town. This is yet another book that seems to go nowhere, the only inkling of a plot lies buried deep underneath a serious of random and sometimes unfortunate events. The story seems to waiting for a plot until the reader is halfway through it and realizes that the plot has already begun. However, one of the greater aspects of the book is the way Steinbeck sets up his characters. The reader is told almost right way about the characters personality and characteristics by what the character has done so far and of what others think of him. When readers thinks that they have got an idea of what the character¿s behavior is like, the character does something totally unexpected, adding another layer to the character and making them into more of a three dimensional person. While ¿Cannery Row¿ was written well in the way of characters and consequences, the story was lacking in substance.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted November 3, 2005

    Another chance to build something.

    ¿Cannery Row¿, by John Steinbeck, is a book written many years ago and gives the reader a visualization of what life was like back then. The two main characters in this book are completely different and have different ways of doing things. Steinbeck shows us how two people like this can come together and enjoy one an others company. This book shows us how two people that don¿t view life the same way can still end up becoming friends. While one character, Doc, is very respected among the people of Cannery Row, the other character, Mack, is very much disliked and distrusted because everything he does seems to go wrong. Yet among the many mistakes and problems one has, there is still a light and a hope through it all, that just needs to be found. John Steinbeck is really able to portray his events and characters very well. One reading this book is able to grasp each character and what part they play in the building of the story. Within this book, Mack is the man who tries to be nice, but everything seems to go wrong for him. At times, because he has little money, he tries to cheat people and get more than he pays for. This builds a great distrust for him among the people. While disfavored and not very much liked in Cannery Row, something greater is seen within him by Doc. Doc keeps giving Mack another chance and tries to build something within him. In the end of the book, this curse is broken and Mac finally does something good and redeems himself from the social pit he was thrown into.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted November 3, 2005

    Dont give up when life gets hard.

    Cannery Row by John Steinbeck takes place in Cannery Row, Monterey in California. Cannery Row is a book without much of a plot. It is an attempt to capture the feeling and people of a place, the cannery district of Monterey, California, which is populated by a mix of those down-on-their-luck and those who are down-and-out. The flow of the main plot is frequently interrupted by short stories that introduce us to various characters of the Cannery Row, most of whom are not directly connected with the central story. These stories are often characterized by direct or indirect reference to violence. Characterization is a very important part in writing. Mack and the Boys are described as a group of down-and-out but always charming men who live together in the run-down fishmeal shack. Mack is the ringleader, a smart man who can charm anyone into anything. Mack attempts to do things the easy way and to his advantage which often gets him into trouble. Doc, the owner of Western Biological Laboratory, is described as a gentle man who is a friend and aid to all in Cannery Row. The descriptions of Mack and the Boys may make people realize that being down-and-out doesn¿t mean that a person has to give up on everything. Instead we should do our best to keep going and live our lives the best we can.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted November 2, 2005

    Characters and Setting can still make a great book

    ¿Cannery Row,¿ by John Steinbeck, is about throwing a party for someone who really deserves is and will enjoy it. This story takes place in Monterey, California, a small town during the era of the depression. One of the main characters, Mac, is a fairly intelligent, kind man. Mac¿s goal in this book is to give one of the town¿s hero¿s, Doc, a party to show him all of the appreciation and gratitude that the people have for him. The first attempt to make this happen starts out really well, but soon turns sour. ¿Cannery Row¿ is more about presenting a wide range of characters and describing them very well than having a great plot. Mac is a character described throughout the book. He has a wide range of emotions, from ecstatic to down and out, which he goes through. John Steinbeck, proves this book¿s purpose very well by describing the emotions of the setting and characters. He describes different moments that take place throughout a day in Cannery Row. When Doc returns home from a business trip Steinbeck takes you through Docs house and describes every detail of what Doc is seeing. Steinbeck also describes the emotions in the characters lives. He describes how Mr. Talbot feels about their situation in life and how he is tired of putting on a smile and pretending it is all okay. By doing this, Steinbeck is able to describe more of Cannery Row than to have to work on making the plot the main point of this story.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted November 4, 2005

    Having the best intentions

    ¿Cannery Row,¿ by John Steinbeck, follows the everyday lives of group of people living in Cannery Row in Monterey, California. One of the story¿s central characters is Doc. Doc is kind of like the town¿s go-to guy. He helps people out of problems, and he is generally a nice guy. Mack and the buys live in the Palace Flophouse. They have no jobs and no self-fulfillment. Lee Chong is the grocery store owner. He has everything anyone could basically need in his store. Dora runs the Bear-Flag-Hotel, a whorehouse that is reasonably priced and is always waiting for the fleet to come in. When Mack and the boys decide to throw a big party for Doc, a slew of events unfold, some good, some bad. While it is obvious that this book doesn¿t have much of a plot, there are several hidden meanings to some of the character¿s actions. For example, when Mack and the boys throw Doc, things go horribly wrong. Mack and the boys have the best intentions, but even with the best intentions, things have a tendency to go horribly wrong. A major point in the story is how one tiny thing can trigger another. When Doc¿s party fails, that sends the entire town into a kind of malaise. When Mack¿s dog gets deathly ill it is up to Doc has to cure him. Mack and the boys are so happy that it actually pulls the town out of its depression. Another point is that of redemption. After the party goes badly, Mack feels terribly guilty about it. He knows that Doc is displeased with him and he knows that he has to make up for it, so he throws him another party.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted September 29, 2005

    amazing

    This book was incredible! the imagery and tone of this book were unbeatable!john steinbeck is one extraordinary writer and i think everyone should read his books.

    0 out of 1 people found this review helpful.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted November 9, 2005

    Seeing America from a different point of view

    In ¿Cannery Row¿ there are many different characters whom we meet who do not do a whole lot of any thing through the whole book. ¿Cannery Row¿ is set in Monterey, California where there are many sardine-canning factories that attract many different types of people. However the town has many other people, some of whom are prosperous business owners such as Doc and Lee Chong. There are also other people in the town who do not have a steady job simply because they don¿t want to have a regular job, such as the character Mac. Mac and his group of friends simply get by simply by sweet talking people and by doing special jobs for Doc. Doc owns Western Biological that is a company that catches certain living creatures for pet stores and embalms dead ones for research. When Doc gets an order for 300 frogs, Mac and the boys instantly volunteer because they want to get money from Doc so they can throw a party for Doc. The boys go on along journey and meet new people while they are catching the frogs. When they get back they plan the party and have it at Doc¿s house. The only problem is that Doc is away while they have the party. When he gets back he is very mad at Mac and the boys. The boys all feel devastated because of what they did. It takes them a long time to get over it but after a while they do when they do get over it they throw another party for Doc on his fake birthday. Everyone brings him presents, and Doc enjoys the second party a lot. John Steinbeck describes the town of Monterey in detail when he says, ¿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.¿ He explains the good and bad parts of the town and makes the town seem almost alive. Also he explains how the chacters are very morally social and how they do things just because other people do them. He shows how hypercritical common Americans are and how they want to be accepted. Steinbeck makes readers look at America from a different point of view and see how people really act.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted April 4, 2005

    This book was fairly boring.

    I'm not good with symbolism or stuff like that. I like books that tell a straight foreword story. Any one who doesn't understand symbolism will NOT like this book. Although, I did laugh at some of the predictiments that the characters got into.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted December 6, 2004

    Loved It!!

    I read this book in garde seven for a book report. I loved it, but I am way above the normal reading level for that age, so I wouldn't recommend it to people who aren't able to understand simple things. You really have to know how to read a book I guees :S to get al of the enjoyment out of this book that I id, you can't just be an avid reader, you have to be a ble to appreciate the classics and understand that society wasn't always as it is today.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted August 20, 2004

    Great book... for older readers

    Cannery Row is without a doubt one of my favorite books, but this book is not fit for a high school read. I first read this book during my freshman year @ high school, but I never really understood everything that went on. But, I read this again at a lit class in college and I began to understand the book. You have to travel a lot more and go through some things in life in order to understand the characters and its fast-moving plots. I recommend this book, but not for a junior-high or high-school read (like 'Of Mice and Men.'). Otherwise, this book has a balance of humor and sadness. Steinbeck writes many details about each character that keeps you interested. Not to mention, Steinbeck really writes Cannery Row and Salinas so realistically, that if you ever been to those areas, you can see the events of the books rolling in your imagination.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted July 14, 2004

    the book is boring!!!

    this book is so boring. i fell asleep[really]. i read it in 7th grade and my whole class hated it just like i did. my advice is that if you are looking for a book that is interesting and understandable, the is not the right book. trust me, i love reading.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted April 24, 2004

    My thoughts on the Gopher

    I thought the chapter at the end about the gopher was an extremely well-written piece of symbolism. My take on it, was that even though the gopher had things excellent for himself (the expansive underground tunnels, abundance of food, etc..) he wasn't truely happy because his life was missing something (a female).. he was forced to move to a less blissfull spot to be happy.. This is showing that you can have all the material things in life, but still be miserable; or you can be poor, but have the things that matter most, and truely be happy -- This totally sums up the fate of Mack and the Boys.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted September 7, 2003

    English Report

    I had to read this book for a book report, over the summer. At first when I saw all the chapter's I thought i wasnt goin to like it, i also thought about skipping every other chapter to get over with it . But then after the first chapter I got pulled in...Cannery Row is full of death humor and intrigue. It makes you think about what each chapter really meant. I had notrouble reading it

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  • Anonymous

    Posted May 6, 2003

    Terrific piece of 1930s American Literature

    Anyone seeking to cuddle up with a terrific book, void of too many deep quandries - just a fantastic read, Cannery Row is the book! A story of a small community of Monterrey proletariats and their individual lives, interactions with each other, and their provincial lives on Cannery Row. Truly enchanting characters that, unlike so many other literary works, are down-to-earth with qualities easily connecting with that of the common American who lives day-to-day, check-to-check, experience-to-experience. Steinbeck's ability to capture the vernacular of the time and area truly makes this an authentic taste of Depression-era life among a score of working-class neighbors: from a Chinese grocer to a marine biologist to the owner of a burlesque house. No bookshelf should be without this pragmatic tale of the trials, tribulations, and triumphs of proletarian America during the 1930s.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted January 29, 2003

    my opinion

    the book was ok. I picked Cannery Row for a book report which was a mistake because it doesn't really have a plot. All of the characters made it quite confusing.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted August 14, 2002

    a book about life

    I thought this book was filled with every right character in the right spot. Each with their own distinction and attraction making the whole book entertaining and making you think about life as it is here.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted May 31, 2001

    my opinion

    I liked the book ok. it was hard to follow with the characters going in and out. There is no plot but the short stories had a lot of meaning. :)

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  • Anonymous

    Posted June 1, 2001

    This book is definitely worth the read

    I have read numerous works by Steinbeck, but this is definitely one of my favorites. The characters are almost lifelike--they seem to jump off the page. The subtle (and not so subtle) humor kept me interested. I found the structure of the novel to be a nice change from the normal, boring organization most authors use. A good read!

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  • Anonymous

    Posted April 3, 2001

    Easy Going

    This book is fantastic. It is a great commentary on what things should really be important in life, what things one should put meaning on...the people that don't get the book are the people that the books says 'don't get life'

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