Cannery Row: (Centennial Edition)

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Overview

Steinbeck's tough yet charming portrait of people on the margins of society, dependant on one another for both physical and emotional survival

 
Unburdened by the material necessities of the more fortunate, the denizens of Cannery Row discover rewards unknown in more traditional society. Henry the painter sorts through junk lots for pieces of wood to incorporate into the boat he is building, while the girls from Dora Flood’s bordello venture out now and then to enjoy a bit ...

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Cannery Row: (Centennial Edition)

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Overview

Steinbeck's tough yet charming portrait of people on the margins of society, dependant on one another for both physical and emotional survival

 
Unburdened by the material necessities of the more fortunate, the denizens of Cannery Row discover rewards unknown in more traditional society. Henry the painter sorts through junk lots for pieces of wood to incorporate into the boat he is building, while the girls from Dora Flood’s bordello venture out now and then to enjoy a bit of sunshine. Lee Chong stocks his grocery with almost anything a man could want, and Doc, a young marine biologist who ministers to sick puppies and unhappy souls, unexpectedly finds true love. Cannery Row is just a few blocks long, but the story it harbors is suffused with warmth, understanding, and a great fund of human values.

First published in 1945, Cannery Row focuses on the acceptance of life as it is—both the exuberance of community and the loneliness of the individual. John Steinbeck draws on his memories of the real inhabitants of Monterey, California, and interweaves their stories in this world where only the fittest survive—creating what is at once one of his most humorous and poignant works. In Cannery Row, John Steinbeck returns to the setting of Tortilla Flat to create another evocative portrait of life as it is lived by those who unabashedly put the highest value on the intangibles—human warmth, camaraderie, and love.

This Steinbeck Centennial Edition features French flaps and deckled pages.

For more than sixty-five years, Penguin has been the leading publisher of classic literature in the English-speaking world. With more than 1,500 titles, Penguin Classics represents a global bookshelf of the best works throughout history and across genres and disciplines. Readers trust the series to provide authoritative texts enhanced by introductions and notes by distinguished scholars and contemporary authors, as well as up-to-date translations by award-winning translators.

Drawing characters based on his memories of real inhabitants of Monterey, Steinbeck interweaves the stories of Doc, Henri, Mack, and his boys, in a world where only the fittest survive, in a novel that focuses on the acceptance of life as it is--a story at once humorous and poignant.

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What People Are Saying

From the Publisher
“Steinbeck has compounded a bitter and uproariously funny commentary on the futility of human aspiration and the barrenness of existence . . . an extraordinary mixture of wild laughter and searing pain.” — The New York Herald Tribune

“It’s one of the most thoroughly enjoyable and delicious books you’ll ever have the fortune to read.” — Chicago Sun Times

“Everything is always somehow overlaid with laughter, the special kind of laughter and contentment with one’s lot, however humble, that only John Steinbeck can put into words. . . . John Steinbeck sees his characters with deep compassion as well as amusement.” — Chicago Sunday Tribune

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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9780142000687
  • Publisher: Viking Penguin
  • Publication date: 2/5/2002
  • Series: Steinbeck's Centennial Series
  • Edition description: Centennial
  • Pages: 192
  • Sales rank: 251,166
  • Product dimensions: 5.65 (w) x 8.50 (h) x 0.56 (d)

Meet the Author

John Steinbeck was a novelist and dramatist whose most famous works include East of Eden, The Grapes of Wrath, and Of Mice and Men. He won the Nobel Prize for literature in 1962. José Luis Piquero is a writer and a translator whose other translations include The Great Gatsby and This Side of Paradise.

Biography

John Ernst Steinbeck, Nobel and Pulitzer Prize winner, was born in Salinas, California February 27, 1902. His father, John Steinbeck, served as Monterey County Treasurer for many years. His mother, Olive Hamilton, was a former schoolteacher who developed in him a love of literature. Young Steinbeck came to know the Salinas Valley well, working as a hired hand on nearby ranches in Monterey County. In 1919, he graduated from Salinas High School as president of his class and entered Stanford University majoring in English. Stanford did not claim his undivided attention. During this time he attended only sporadically while working at a variety jobs including on with the Big Sur highway project, and one at Spreckels Sugar Company near Salinas.

Steinbeck left Stanford permanently in 1925 to pursue a career in writing in New York City. He was unsuccessful and returned, disappointed, to California the following year. Though his first novel, Cup of Gold, was published in 1929, it attracted little literary attention. Two subsequent novels, The Pastures of Heaven and To A God Unknown, met the same fate.

After moving to the Monterey Peninsula in 1930, Steinbeck and his new wife, Carol Henning, made their home in Pacific Grove. Here, not far from famed Cannery Row, heart of the California sardine industry, Steinbeck found material he would later use for two more works, Tortilla Flat and Cannery Row.

With Tortilla Flat (1935), Steinbeck's career took a decidedly positive turn, receiving the California Commonwealth Club's Gold Medal. He felt encouraged to continue writing, relying on extensive research and personal observation of the human drama for his stories. In 1937, Of Mice and Men was published. Two years later, the novel was produced on Broadway and made into a movie. In 1940, Steinbeck won the Pulitzer Prize for fiction for Grapes of Wrath, bringing to public attention the plight of dispossessed farmers.

After Steinbeck and Henning divorced in 1942, he married Gwyndolyn Conger. The couple moved to New York City and had two sons, Thomas and two years later, John. During the war years, Steinbeck served as a war correspondent for the New York Herald Tribune. Some of his dispatches reappeared in Once There Was A War. In 1945, Steinbeck published Cannery Row and continued to write prolifically, producing plays, short stories and film scripts. In 1950, he married Elaine Anderson Scott and they remained together until his death.

Steinbeck received the Nobel Prize for Literature in 1962 "...for his realistic as well as imaginative writings, distinguished by a sympathetic humor and keen social perception.." In his acceptance speech, Steinbeck summarized what he sought to achieve through his works:

"...Literature is as old as speech. It grew out of human need for it and it has not changed except to become more needed. The skalds, the bards, the writers are not separate and exclusive. From the beginning, their functions, their duties, their responsibilities have been decreed by our species...Further more, the writer is delegated to declare and to celebrate man's proven capacity of greatness of heart and spirit—gallantry in defeat, for courage, compassion and love. In the endless war against weakness and despair, these are the bright rally flags of hope and emulation. I hold that a writer who does not passionately believe in the perfectibility of man has no dedication nor any membership in literature..."

Steinbeck remained a private person, shunning publicity and moving frequently in his search for privacy. He died on December 20, 1968 in New York City, where he and his family made a home. But his final resting place was the valley he had written about with such passion. At his request, his ashes were interred in the Garden of Memories cemetery in Salinas. He is survived by his son, Thomas.

Author biography courtesy of the National Steinbeck Center.

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    1. Also Known As:
      Amnesia Glasscock
      John Ernst Steinbeck, Jr. (full name); Amnesia Glasscock
    1. Date of Birth:
      February 27, 1902
    2. Place of Birth:
      Salinas, California
    1. Date of Death:
      December 20, 1968
    2. Place of Death:
      New York, New York

Customer Reviews

Average Rating 4
( 132 )
Rating Distribution

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(56)

4 Star

(35)

3 Star

(23)

2 Star

(13)

1 Star

(5)

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See All Sort by: Showing 1 – 20 of 133 Customer Reviews
  • Anonymous

    Posted November 28, 2007

    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'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.

    7 out of 7 people found this review helpful.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted August 21, 2006

    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. 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.

    4 out of 5 people found this review helpful.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted June 26, 2007

    great book

    I completely agree with che'ek. I first started reading it and got about 80 pages in and stopped for a while. I started to read it more and it turned out to be one of the best books I've ever read.

    3 out of 3 people found this review helpful.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted March 10, 2007

    one of steinbeck's best

    This book is poetry. Episodic, full of great characters, gritty, a feel for life in Monterey that is long vanished. Perhaps not ultimately as profound as Grapes of Wrath, but futher evidence of Steinbeck as a great american novelist.

    3 out of 3 people found this review helpful.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted January 25, 2006

    Cannery Row

    If you like a sweet, entertaining, and witty novel, then Cannery Row is the book for you. The small fishing town of Cannery Row is home to some of the most eccentric characters. I loved reading about the unusual, friendly, and clever characters in their day to day life. Steinbeck's poetic language makes this book worth the read. He describes the town and everyone in it with great imagery. I would recommend this book to junior high and above, because it might not be understandable to younger kids. Cannery Row is all-around an enjoyable book to read that leaves you feeling caring and happy.

    2 out of 2 people found this review helpful.

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  • Posted February 28, 2013

    more from this reviewer

    The reader is welcomed to Cannery Row by being informed that it

    The reader is welcomed to Cannery Row by being informed that it becomes itself only after the work that gives the area its name ceases.  It then becomes “quiet and magical” with the stories that create it can, like those who inhabit the Row, only “crawl in by themselves” (p.2-3), as they cannot be forced into obedience.  These stories are of people, their relationships and how that synergy creates a world of community so close knit that all are accepted because none need fear being rejected.  
    Cannery Row is home to unforgettable characters.  Lee Chong, the original “Sam Walton” whose small shop stocks everything (but discounts nothing - EVER).  Dora Flood, the “Mother” of the row and proprietor of “The Bear Flag Restaurant” whose “girls” serve specials never listed on the menu, if The Bear Flag had a menu as it is not a restaurant.  Mack, Hazel (so named because he was the seventh child born to his parents in eight years and his mother forgot he was a boy), Eddie, Hughie and Jones who serve as the “caretakers” of the Row while not being bothered with consistent employment or knowing the lack of sustenance.  Finally there is Doc, owner and operator of Western Biological Laboratory who is the heart that causes the Row to be sustained.  
    The book is arranged by observations of these characters as they go about their lives with each other on The Row connected by short chapters of philosophical musings about what was just seen.  These “musings” were reminiscent of those conversations once held on front porches, around wood stoves, dorm rooms late at night or over cups of various libations.  What is achieved in this manner is a feeling of inclusion and a depth of meaning that was somehow not present before the book was opened.  Merely by “observing” those on The Row as they go about living, the author is able to bring the reader back to a clearer look at him/herself.
    The book is a classic, it has been read for generations in high school and college classes and it merits this label.  The language is spot-on for each character (there is some “adult” language used) and the movie (starring Nick Nolte and Debra Winger) is good but cannot reflect the power the book offers.  The narrator plays with the disbelief of the reader, causing her/him to be reminded that this is not reality and they are only observing the Row from a distance, the response is that akin to watching a play unfold. Listening to the book helps to dim the illusion of the fourth wall (between the fiction and the reader).  This technique is a safety net for those moments when the book becomes a little too close. The frog expedition to the Carmel River and the ensuing birthday party for Doc (which he knew nothing of even though it was at his house) are two instances where this was true and they are worth reading the book in themselves.  
    I am glad I visited Monterey, twice in fact, in one summer.  The first was the glitzy, tourist Mecca in a breathtaking setting.  The second was the “magical” place full of quirky, often unsafe, unpredictably dependable people whom d0 not realize how special they are.  Now that I read that last sentence, the reason I enjoyed this book so much is clearer, it sounds like my hometown.

    1 out of 1 people found this review helpful.

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  • Posted May 10, 2012

    **SPOILER ALERT** John Steinbeck, the author of the famous nove

    **SPOILER ALERT**

    John Steinbeck, the author of the famous novels, “Grapes of Wrath” and “Of Mice and Men” continues his unique yet not so unique style with “Cannery Row”. This novel, set immediately after the Great Depression and World War II is ironically a feel-good book. Steinbeck writes with his usual technique of a local setting with characters fighting to survive the struggles of everyday life.

    Although Steinbeck throws in the sorrows of the real world such as when Doc finds a dead girl on the beach, more than one person commits suicide and a harmless mentally challenged boy is sent to an institution this novel takes the form of a happy one. Steinbeck uses his common theme that good can beat evil. His book implies that good-heartedness can create utopia anywhere on Earth, whether it be on the run down Cannery Row or not.

    Steinbeck’s novels often deal with incorrect stereotypes. The characters in his books are not always as they seem on the outside. For example in “Cannery Row” a grocer who seems tough on the outside actually keeps the street running because of his generosity towards his customers. A low-life man who can’t hold down a job gently is able to nurse puppies back to health and a successful doctor who is surrounded by friends is actually extremely lonely. This is a common theme throughout the book.

    Though this can be called a fantasy novel it too has its touch of darkness. Instead of incorporating the hardship themes in real life in the plot line, Steinbeck makes separate chapters to rant. In chapter two Steinbeck goes off of the plot already, to write about his own opinions and speculations of our nation and our world. Steinbeck relies on these off-topic rants to get away from his closely followed plot filled with realistic descriptions of the old local town he knows to add in his anti-utopian thoughts. This allows the novel to end with an optimistic outlook despite his non-related chapters of darkness.

    Overall the typical Steinbeck writes another novel with the same themes and techniques. Although not as deep as his “Of Mice and Men” Steinbeck takes the same approach to shed some light on a local run down town soon after the Great Depression.

    1 out of 3 people found this review helpful.

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  • Posted May 7, 2010

    Cannery Row - enjoyable Steibneck read but not East of Eden

    I enjoyed Cannery Row.A shorter story by Steinbeck standards it had great characters ranging from Doc who is widely looked up to in this town and Mac and his followers who live in the palace flop-house and don't work or have any real concerns in life.Dora runs a whore house and as a whole the town is small an all who live in this town know eachothers business. The story flowed well ,but as a whole it just did not have the impact of other Steinbeck classics. However it was an enjoyable read and I will will now read the 2nd part of the story - Sweet Thursday and give my rating from there.

    DNC

    1 out of 1 people found this review helpful.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted March 24, 2014

    Rowan

    Hardened a little and cum.med some to

    0 out of 4 people found this review helpful.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted March 24, 2014

    Rowan

    Rammed it in her cum.ming and growing

    0 out of 3 people found this review helpful.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted March 24, 2014

    Gem

    Nvm

    0 out of 3 people found this review helpful.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted March 24, 2014

    Jami

    She moaned "does this feel good. Am i making you happy?"

    0 out of 2 people found this review helpful.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted December 20, 2013

    Great!!

    Another of Steinbeck's amazing writings!

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  • Anonymous

    Posted September 6, 2013

    How many pages is it?

    How many pages are in the book?

    0 out of 2 people found this review helpful.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted September 7, 2012

    Readable

    Knowing that on our upcoming visit to California we would visit both Cannery Row in Monterey and the National Steinbeck Center in Salinas, as well as have lunch at the Steinbeck House, I decided I'd better pick a Steinbeck novel to read. I had read Grapes of Wrath many years ago, but, otherwise, knew very little about Steinbeck or his writing. After reading some of the posted reviews on this site, I wasn't sure that I'd even finish reading Cannery Row. I started reading it on our flight to Monterey and found that it was much more readable and interesting than I thought it would be. Of course, as I walked down Cannery Row in Monterey, Steinbeck's characters kept popping out at me and made me more interested in the book. I will try another bit of Steinbeck after reading this book, also in part because of our visit to the Steinbeck Center which gave so much background information on both Steinbeck and his writing.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted June 7, 2012

    Pages?

    How many pages is this book?

    0 out of 3 people found this review helpful.

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  • Posted April 16, 2012

    If you like John Steinbeck...

    The writing style is different but once I got used to it, I enjoyed the book. It's a great classic.

    0 out of 1 people found this review helpful.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted July 27, 2011

    Yup

    I have been all the places he waslove him

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  • Posted December 31, 2010

    love john steinbeck

    he has a gift in the way he describes characters and places that makes you feel like you were there

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  • Anonymous

    Posted October 27, 2010

    Cannery Row

    After reading the great novel Of Mice and Men, I suddenly became a fan of Steinbeck. In the novel Of Mice and Men, his usage of the language showed their accents, and how he showed the casual language in the certain period in a natural way. Today, as a fan of his writing I decided to share his other tremendous novel Cannery Row written in 1945. Cannery Row is a novel that attempts to capture the feeling and people of a place, the cannery district, California. Due to its humorous language, I would award this novel a ninety out of a hundred. I especially recommend this book to people eager to understand the situation and how people suffered during the Great Depression. This is a great book not only performed good history background but also its humorous, funny, natural spoken language found in this book, Cannery Row.

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