Customer Reviews for

Down to a Soundless Sea

Average Rating 4.5
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  • Posted August 4, 2009

    more from this reviewer

    I Also Recommend:

    A Promising Start

    This book, which is a collection of short stories that the author has collected or researched over the years, is a promising start. It's hard not to look at Thomas Steinbeck's writing and not think about his illustrious father, John, but Thomas does seem to have a knack for writing too, however rough around the edges it is. There are seven stories in here set between the 1850's and 1930's in the Salinas and Monterey area. My two favorite stories in here are "An Unbecoming Grace," which follows the travels of a local doctor and how his rescuing of a runaway cowboy affects a big change on a local ranch, and "Sing Fat and the Imperial Duchess of Woo," which tells of a former Chinese royal son and his story of love and loss in the Monterey area. The rule of thumb when it comes to these stories is that the longer it is, the better it is. The shorter ones are definitely not as good as the longer ones, but no less interesting. One thing Thomas needs to work on though is smoothing out some of the wordings and transitions a little. Often he uses the "something something something WHEN SUDDENLY..." line, which feels kind of jerky and could have been served better with a new paragraph or the beginning of new section for the story. He accomplishes that in the last story, "Sing Fat," which makes me think this is just a practice run for Thomas' future writing career. And judging by how enjoyable this collection was, I foresee a bright future for John's son.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted November 6, 2002

    Thomas Steinbeck dazzles

    Thomas Steinbeck's collection of short stories from the Big Sur area during the early 1900s, is written in a lyrical, rhythmic style that is poetic in nature. Each story is carefully crafted to engage the reader and delight the senses. In the last and longest story in the collection, "Sing Fat and the Imperial Duchess of Woo," Steinbeck draws the reader in with his rich and luscious descriptions. In one scene where the protagonist's bethrothed brings in a meal, Steinbeck reveals his obvious love of food..."[she] returned with wine-steamed prawns and grilled rock pigeons with a red-pepper-and-honey glaze. Last served was a young sea bass beautifully crosshatched and deep-fried in a ginger-scented oil and brought to the table leaping from a pond of broth and steamed vegetables arranged to emphasize composition." His language is spare and evocative. This reader was left salivating and heading off to the kitchen for a snack. The classic tone of the writing lulls the reader into a sense of being taken back into an imaginary time, but in a clever turn by the author, we are reminded that these are true stories, and, in the case of "Sing Fat and the Imperial Duchess of Woo" this creates a more heightened tragedy. I highly recommend this book to all who enjoy a good yarn delivered by a gifted storyteller.

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    Posted April 8, 2010

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    Posted April 10, 2010

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