John Steinbeck frequently integrated his own experiences into his novels, and this is never more the case than in CANNERY ROW. The main characters of this picaresque novel all have their genesis in people he knew and worked with in Monterey, California.
Cannery Row is home to a group of poor, disenfranchised people who live on the fringe of existence. The stories of Doc, Henri, Mack and others are interwoven to depict a world in which everyone is trying, without much success, to survive. Mack and his friends bumble through life: drinking too much and taking up with the wrong women. Doc spends his time picking up the pieces for his friends and trying to put them together again.
Tragic though their circumstances may be, these people demonstrate a remarkable acceptance of their situation and each other.
Steinbeck writes about his collection of misfits with wisdom, humor, and poignancy. Readers can't help but fall in love with these colorful characters and cheer them on as they reveal their hopes and dreams.
Reviewed by Judith Handschuh on January 21, 2011