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Zens of a netherworld of laughter and tears from Fauna new headmistress of the local brothel to Hazel a bum whose mother must have wanted a daught. Since listening to an audiobook edition of Cannery Row earlier this year and falling in love with both the characters and Steinbeck s writing I ve looked forward to reading this seuel It s set about ten years after the events of Cannery Row Doc has returned from army service to his work at the Western Biological Laboratory and finds himself unsatisfied and depressed This makes the other denizens of Cannery Row decide that Doc needs a wife and that Suzy a new girl at the Bear Flag Restaurant is the wife for him Unlike Cannery Row which is essentially a series of linked vignettes Sweet Thursday has a traditional structure In many ways it resembles a 1950s romantic comedy think Spencer Tracey and Katharine Hepburn in which boy meets girl boy loses girl boy gets girl In the process of finding true love both Doc and Suzy have to learn a lot about themselves and about each other Getting Doc and Suzy together reuires effort from Doc s friends including Mack and the boys at the Palace Flophouse and in particular the dimwitted but sweet Hazel Dora and the girls at the Bear Flag Restaurant and the new owner of Lee Chong s Grocery who revels in the name of Jesus and MaryI loved reading this novel The characters are well drawn and the narrative contains both humour and wisdom about the human condition I love Steinbeck s use of language there s something about the directness of his prose its accessibility and its beauty which really speaks to me This is not a high brow work It may not be up there with The Grapes of Wrath in terms of literary merit but for anyone who has read and loved Cannery Row it s a real treat I will definitely be reading it again Spending time with Doc and those who love him is a joy Not that I visualise Tracey and Hepburn in the roles of Doc and Suzy but the sparring and the repartee which characterised their on screen relationship would be just right for this pair

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Sweet Thursday

In Monterey on the California coast Sweet Thursday is what they call the day after Lousy Wednesday which is one of those days that are just natura. The War is over and life seems to go back to normal in Cannery Row Mack and the boys return to their feisty drinking at the Palace Flophouse and Fauna and the girls recover their usual business at the Bear Flag Companionship and good cheer camaraderie and the right dose of picaresue reign over the marginalized neighborhood in Monterey and the familiar pulse of tragicomedy takes hold of the comforted readerThere is only a discordant note in Steinbeck s symphony that dulls the otherwise colorful picture old Doc has come back home from the front a changed man his boundless love for the sea its marine creatures and even the appeasing voices of Gregorian chants have lost their allure Doc has run out of the selfless love that kept all the community tied up together and an impending sense of dread has darkened the mood of the whole neighborhoodTrying to reconnect with his former self and screaming out in stifling loneliness Doc reopens his laboratory and embarks on a new project to study the behavioral pattern of octopuses in situations of stress yes Steinbeck s humor shines with gusto thinking that hard work will raise his spirits while ignoring the inner voice that nags mercilessly at him about what is missing in his life Luckily for Doc Mack and Fauna know exactly what he needs to be a complete man again and an improbable seuence of events will entertain and warm the heart of any reader who was missing the gang of crooks vagrants prostitutes and drunks that live in peaceful fellowship in Cannery RowOnce Steinbeck s prose is a delight to read With loads of self effacing and good natured humor he uses comedy and rich vocabulary salted with fine irony and a pinch of surrealism to create characters that will beat the odds and prevail over the grim circumstances that have been imposed on themForty chapters with titles sporadic poetry and plenty of philosophy fill the pages of this endearing tale of love and friendship Time takes the best of us and new yearnings plague even the most lone wolves when the moment is right The sea is lonely without its fish Doc s solitude is the birth of a metamorphosis that will bring some anguish and self doubt but also the only chance that his dreams and wishes will materialize and make him whole If you had such an opportunity would you let it pass by without risking everything you have to get itI thought so and so did Steinbeck

John Steinbeck æ 4 characters

Lly bad Returning to the scene of Cannery Row the weedy lots and junk heaps and flophouses of Monterey John Steinbeck once brings to life the deni. Sweet Thursday Cannery Row ReduxThe world is so full of a number of things I m sure we should all be as happy as kings Happy Thought from a Child s Garden of Verse Robert Louis SteversonIf you love the works of John Steinbeck as I do it does not matter whether the critics have labeled one of his novels among his major novels Even a minor Steinbeck is a joy to pick up and read Even re read Recently I reveled in Cannery Row Originally published in 1947 Steinbeck set the novel in the waning years of the Great Depression It was natural to jump into Sweet ThursdaySteinbeck s return to the Row was published in 1954 Although the setting is the same the community has gone through significant changes Time has jumped forward to the years following World War Two The Sardine canneries that flourished providing the main economic flow in Monterey have closed The fisheries have been over harvested during the war yearsFamiliar faces are absent Lee Chong has sold his store and sailed to the South Pacific Dora the madam of the Bear Flag has died in her sleep Gay one of the boys living at the Palace Flophouse and Grill was killed in the warNew faces have arrived on the Row in their places Lee sold his store to Joseph and Mary known as the Patron a con man and chiseler looking to exploit the growing immigrant population Flora Dora s older sister has taken over the Bear Flag with a new perspective on the trade to graduate her working girls into married women She records their graduation by posting a gold star to commemorate their happy events And there s Suzy a girl down on her luck who takes up residence at the Bear Flag though Flora doubts she s cut out for the working lifeOtherwise Steinbeck happily brings back the usual suspects to the pages of Sweet Thursday Doc remains the first citizen of the row the man to whom everyone goes for a consultation on any matter for which they need an answer However Doc has been to war He returns to find his lab inactive and uestioning his future whether he has anything left to contribute in the time left to him As usual he becomes involved in an esoteric scientific uestion the topic of apoplexy in octopi It will be the topic of a paper which he cannot seem to write And everyone notices that Doc just doesn t seem to be himselfOf course everyone on the Row wants to do something GOOD for Doc However Doc is caught in a spiral of despair Now discontent nibbled at him not painfully but constantly Where does discontent start You are warm enough but you shiver You are fed yet hunger gnaws you You have been loved but your yearning wanders in new fields And to prod all these there s time the bastard Time The end of life is now not so terribly far away you can see it the way you see the finish line when you come into the stretch and your mind says Have I worked enough Have I eaten enough Have I loved enough All of these of course are the foundation of man s greatest curse and perhaps his greatest glory What has my life meant so far and what can it mean in the time left to me And now we re coming to the wicked poisoned dart What have I contributed in the Great Ledger What am I worth And this isn t vanity or ambition Men seem to be born with a debt they can never pay no matter how hard they try It piles up ahead of them Man owes something to man If he ignores the debt it poisons him and if he tries to make payments the debt only increases and the uality of his gift is the measure of the man In his wanderings Doc encounters a mysterious hermit who tells Doc what his problem is It s the lack of love Well everyone on the Row has figured that out Flora and Mack and the boys all think Doc needs a woman Flora thinks Suzy is ready for a gold starAll the residents of the Row set out to throw Doc and Suzy together However the two just don t seem to fit Actually they fight like cats and dogs But they re looking for the same thingSays Doc Well I remember this girl I am not whole without her I am not alive without her When she was with me I was alive than I have ever been and not only when she was pleasant either Even when we were fighting I was whole Says Suzy Maybe what I want ain t anywhere in the world but I want it so I think there is such a thing I want a guy that s wide open I want him to be a real guy maybe even a tough guy but I want a window in him He can have his dukes up every other place but not with me And he got to need the hell out of me He got to be the kind of guy that if he aint got me he ain t got nothing And brother that guy s going to have something Steinbeck s return to the Row is a joyous ribald celebration of life It is a delight from start to finish Minor If you re a literary critic maybe so For the Steinbeck admirer it s an absolute must Read it


10 thoughts on “Sweet Thursday

  1. says:

    Dear Mack and the boys in Palace Flophouse I can’t tell you how grateful I am for the advice you gave the author in the prologue You were entirely right and helped him write a masterpiece After all who would know better than you how to describe the intricate balance of talk action and hooptedoodle and chapters and set

  2. says:

    Over the course of this year I have discovered an appreciation for American master story tellers I have noted in reviews that some of the books assigned to high school children may not be age appropriate and that one gets a deeper appreciation for some of these books by reading them through adult eyes It is in this regard that I have read Capote Hemingway and Steinbeck during this calendar year A month ago I found myself enjoying Steinbec

  3. says:

    The War is over and life seems to go back to normal in Cannery Row Mack and the boys return to their feisty drinking at the Palace Fl

  4. says:

    Sweet Thursday Cannery Row ReduxThe world is so full of a number of things I'm sure we should all be as happy as kings Happy Thought from a C

  5. says:

    I was in Monterey uite recently and even visited the Steinbeck house in Salinas so I thought it would be a damn good time to read another Steinbeck As per usual it was a really good read and as per usual I was right But then again it's always a good time to read SteinbeckHaving said that I do worry every time I read one of his books because all the character's always die and it will always be sad The amount of hyperbole in that p

  6. says:

    A book that is a love story on three levels We have the love that Mack Hazel and the gang feel for Doc their friend and mentor They want to set him up with a home a girl and a microscope don't ask and almost but not uite get it rightWe have the slow burn love affair between Suzy and Doc From totally different backgrounds repelled and attracted in eual measure but always set to get together in the endMost of a

  7. says:

    Published in 1954 John Steinbeck's seuel to Cannery Row arrived nine years after its predecessor and directly followed the monumental world building of East of Eden This might explain why Sweet Thursday is on much sober footing than Steinbeck's previous literary excursions to Monterey California; rather than loosely connected vignettes connected to a party this is of a fully formed novel with a doggone roman

  8. says:

    Since listening to an audiobook edition of Cannery Row earlier this year and falling in love with both the characters and Steinbeck's writing I've looked forward to reading this seuel It's set about ten years afte

  9. says:

    A good companion piece to CANNERY ROW I enjoyed this book

  10. says:

    The second time this book has caught me by surprise He's got a very I wanna say astute but it's something else He just keeps gettin' l