Earlier this week, I shared a post with my list of books for the Classics Club Spin challenge (see it here), and today, this spin’s number was announced. (For those keeping track, it’s CC Spin #30, and for me personally, #2!)
Hosted by The Classics Club blog, the Classics Club Spin is a reading adventure where participants come up with a list of classics they’d like to read, number them 1 to 20, and then read the book that correponds to the “spin” number that comes up.
For CCSpin #30, the lucky number is:
And that means I’ll be reading:
Cannery Row by John Steinbeck, published in 1945, 181 pages.
Synopsis for the edition above:
Cannery Row is a book without much of a plot. Rather, it is an attempt to capture the feeling and people of a place, the cannery district of Monterey, California, which is populated by a mix of those down on their luck and those who choose for other reasons not to live “up the hill” in the more respectable area of town. The flow of the main plot is frequently interrupted by short vignettes that introduce us to various denizens of the Row, most of whom are not directly connected with the central story. These vignettes are often characterized by direct or indirect reference to extreme violence: suicides, corpses, and the cruelty of the natural world.
The “story” of Cannery Row follows the adventures of Mack and the boys, a group of unemployed yet resourceful men who inhabit a converted fish-meal shack on the edge of a vacant lot down on the Row.
And a synopsis for a different edition:
Unburdened by the material necessities of the more fortunate, the denizens of Cannery Row discover rewards unknown in more traditional society. Henry the painter sorts through junk lots for pieces of wood to incorporate into the boat he is building, while the girls from Dora Flood’s bordello venture out now and then to enjoy a bit of sunshine. Lee Chong stocks his grocery with almost anything a man could want, and Doc, a young marine biologist who ministers to sick puppies and unhappy souls, unexpectedly finds true love. Cannery Row is just a few blocks long, but the story it harbors is suffused with warmth, understanding, and a great fund of human values.
First published in 1945, Cannery Row focuses on the acceptance of life as it is—both the exuberance of community and the loneliness of the individual. John Steinbeck draws on his memories of the real inhabitants of Monterey, California, and interweaves their stories in this world where only the fittest survive—creating what is at once one of his most humorous and poignant works. In Cannery Row, John Steinbeck returns to the setting of Tortilla Flat to create another evocative portrait of life as it is lived by those who unabashedly put the highest value on the intangibles—human warmth, camaraderie, and love.
I have to say, I’m not especially excited that this is the book that came up this time around — I have been intending to read Cannery Row for years, but there are other books on my list that were more strongly calling to me.
Cannery Row was published ten years after Tortilla Flat, which I read with my book group a couple of years ago. Having spent lots of time in Monterey, I’m familiar with the area as it exists now, and I do think it’ll be interesting to finally read this Steinbeck classic.
And fortunately for me, I actually own a copy! I have the edition pictured above, and since it’s under 200 pages, I don’t think I’ll have any problem finishing before the August 7th deadline.
I’m a little bummed that I’m feeling so hesitant about this book… but I’m sure once it’ll all work out. Wish me luck!
Here’s my list of 20 titles for Classics Club Spin #30:
- Frenchman’s Creek by Daphne DuMaurier
- A Connecticut Yankee in King Arthur’s Court by Mark Twain
- An Old-Fashioned Girl by Louisa May Alcott
- Dracula by Bram Stoker
- Cannery Row by John Steinbeck –
- O Pioneers! by Willa Cather
- Pygmalion by George Bernard Shaw
- Howards End by E. M. Forster
- The Mysterious Affair at Styles by Agatha Christie
- I Capture the Castle by Dodie Smith
- Foundation by Isaac Asimov
- In Cold Blood by Truman Capote
- Herland by Charlotte Perkins Gilman
- The Painted Veil by W. Somerset Maugham
- Passing by Nella Larsen
- The Awakening by Kate Chopin
- The Sound of Waves by Yukio Mishima
- Picnic at Hanging Rock by Joan Lindsay
- The Left Hand of Darkness by Ursula K. Le Guin
- Pale Horse, Pale Rider by Katherine Porter
My previous Classics Club Spin book:
Are you participating in this Classics Club Spin? If so, what book will you be reading?