John Steinbeck: Of Mice and Men
Of Mice and Men
by John Steinbeck
This book had some strikes against it starting out. See, I really dislike Steinbeck. The only reasons I read this one were because people say it’s his best, and every time I say “I don’t like Steinbeck” it seems that the person I’m talking to can’t understand why. So I figured I’d try this one, and either “get it” and figure out why people like Steinbeck, or I’d at least be able to say I’d read enough Steinbeck to form opinions.
And I ended up almost “getting it” while still not liking it. I think that this one is much better written than the others I’ve read. (The Red Pony, Cannery Row, The Pearl) I think that it has more of a plot and doesn’t have (too much) random stuff that doesn’t further the book in any way. It was depressing (as always, for Steinbeck) but not so much so that I felt that depressing the reader was the whole point of the book.
About OM&M itself: the plot is rather predictable from the start, but it’s an interesting look at California history to see how it gets there. There is plenty of foreshadowing, and the book is thin enough that you don’t forget your suspicions by the time you get to the conclusion. The setting is described fairly well, and is perhaps reason enough to read Steinbeck by itself. (Not for me, though.)
There are things about his writing that still greatly bug me. People aren’t introduced well. Everyone seems to be a stereotype. (While that may be the point, it still bugs me.) The plot is predictable. (That bears repeating.) Sometimes it seems we focus on the setting to the point of distraction from the story. (Less so in this book than in some of his others.)
So… is there more Steinbeck in my future? Maybe. I won’t be completely against that. But probably in small doses.