- May 31 - King Library Opens at 1:00 PM
If you told me I would someday love John Steinbeck novels when I was in high school, I would have scoffed. However, to be trite, like a fine bottle of wine, Steinbeck's works only get better as you grow older. Maybe it's that I was uninspired by the bleakness of The Grapes of Wrath, or that I was just too young to appreciate the themes being brought up in the text, but I knew back then I would rather be playing video games. I recently read two of Steinbeck's shorter works, which were of a decidedly more optimistic nature. Cannery Row and Tortilla Flat are two very accessible and quick reads (about 200 pages or under) that I recommend to readers who enjoy "Slice of Life" storytelling. In both of these novels, Steinbeck elaborates on the day to day activities of working class individuals in and around the Monterey Peninsula, a place he was quite familiar with himself.
These types of stories granted, are not for everyone. There is no central conflict that the characters focus on and ultimately resolve in the conclusion. It's more about enjoying the moment, and maybe seeing shades of yourself and your friends and family, in these characters that Steinbeck has created, as they go about their oftentimes hilarious daily antics. Throughout these novels, Steinbeck exposes the social impulses and pecularities that we oftentimes don't stop to think about, (and that we are all guilty of) and makes them something to chuckle about. For instance, Tortilla Flat explores the social elitism of a character that is gifted a vacuum cleaner: "Her manner became dignified and gracious, and she held her head high as befitted one with a sweeping machine." If that line sounded absurd and ridiculous in the best way, then these novels will be your best friends.