Cannery Row, by John Steinbeck
Having read two long novels by Steinbeck, and , I was quite curious about his shorter fiction. Cannery Row doesn't pack the same emotional punch as either of those two masterpieces, but it is a fantastic read nonetheless. We read about the denizens of this certain industrious street, abutting the water and the myriad sardine canneries. We meet Lee Chong, canny proprietor of the general store; Doc, the kind bachelor who collects local fauna for his business, Western Biological Laboratory; Mack and the boys, drifters who've found a home together in a vacant building; Dora and her girls at the local gentleman's establishment; and several other outliers. The story hops, skips, and jumps from person to person, and sometimes not to a person at all, just a place or an animal, so that we begin to feel that Cannery Row is our home as well. Steinbeck's use of language is unparalleled; he's moving and funny and just has such a way with words that I seem to forget then become re-astonished by every time. He's a master of the craft, a literary giant, and I will never tire of his work.