Here’s the mystery. I’ve always loved TheGrapes of Wrath and Of Mice and Men but never sought out much else of his work, and I’m not sure why. Cannery Row is more a compendium of character sketches than a novel, but the sketches are wonderfully evocative and often hilarious. Travels with Charley is also funny at times but mostly intimate and full of wonder. He and his pet poodle set out to explore America in a camper in 1960. The reader gets a sense not only of the times but of the regional sensibilities, which I suspect haven’t changed that much—though Steinbeck even back then laments the loss of these local pockets.
The good news is that Steinbeck wrote many books, which I’m eager to tackle.
While walking along Fisherman’s Wharf in San Francisco, I came across homeless men holding signs and asking for money. One tattered sign, help up by not a homeless person but by an older teen who could been a character in Cannery Row: “Spare change for weed.”