The Pearl by John Steinbeck

I’ve only ever read one Steinbeck. Well, two, if you count Of Mice and Men. Not that that’s not a Steinbeck, just that it’s short, so it doesn’t feel like it really counts. My other Steinbeck, my proper Steinbeck, was Grapes of Wrath. It’s been a while since I read either. I remember loving Of Mice and Men, I can still feel the tragic confusion of Lennie, the Did I do something wrong? I don’t understand. Why is everyone mad at me? Grapes of Wrath I didn’t like at all. I remember some quote from Steinbeck about how he likes to leave the reader exasperated and suffering.[1] I suffered, and I was definitely exasperated.

But I always intended to read more Steinbeck. Mostly because of how highly respected his writing is, I do have a thing for investigating acclaimed authors, you know, seeing what the fuss is about. Plus, people around me keep raving about how good he is. So last Thursday, while at the library[2], I was browsing through pre-1945 American Literature when my eyes fell on the shelf and a half of Steinbeck and I thought, I’m ready. I got out The Pearl and To a God Unknown, because I didn’t feel up to tackling one of the big guns. As to which to read first, I settled on The Pearl, partly for its relative brevity, I felt I needed something not too daunting that may scare me off Steinbeck again, and partly because it touched some small part of my memory.

I’m terrible at reviewing books, which is why this series is not going to be about that. I’ve always been more interested in why I do what I do. How did I come across this author? What drew me to him/her? Why did I pick up this book and not that one? If you wanted to be post-whatever, you’d probably say they’re like the reviews behind the reviews. That’s fine, but please, no one say the ‘M’ word.

-Reading the Why

[1] I can’t seem to find the quote anymore. I may have made it up. If anyone knows what I’m talking about, I’d be grateful to hear from you.
[2] I go to the Humboldt University American and English Department library.


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