John Steinbeck was born in Salinas, California, in 17 February 1902. After studying English at Stanford University, he held several jobs including working as a hod-carrier, apprentice painter, laboratory assistant, ranch hand, fruit-picker, construction worker at Madison Square Gardens, New York, and reporter for the New York American. In 1935 he became a full-time writer and was a special writer for the United States Army Air Force during World War II. Among his most renowned works are Of Mice and Men, Cannery Row, East of Eden and The Grapes of Wrath, which won the Pulitzer Prize in 1940. In 1926 Steinbeck was awarded the Nobel Prize for Literature as a mark of his outstanding contribution to literature, his unquestionable popularity and his versatility. In his speech accepting the Nobel Prize, Steinbeck gave his view of authorship- 'The ancient omission of the writer has not changed. He is charged with exposing our may grevious faults and failures, with dredging up to the light our dark and dangerous dreams for the purpose of improvement. Furthermore, the writer is delegated to declare and to celebrate man's proven capacity for greatness of heart and spirit for gallantry in defeat - for courage, compassion and love.' John Steinbeck died on 20th December 1968.
Steinbeck's 1945 novel is a snapshot of life in a hard-living neighborhood adjacent to the sardine and tuna canneries in Monterey, CA. The memorable characters include Lee Chong, the Chinese merchant; Dora Flood, the local madam; Doc, biologist and owner of Western States Biological Supply; and "the boys"-Mack, Hazel, and Eddie. The latter trio decide to throw a surprise party for Doc to repay his generosity. To earn money for the event, they catch hundreds of frogs that Doc will buy and then sell to his customers. In the process, the boys acquire a puppy and a cask of whiskey. The bash gets wild, and Doc's house is trashed. To make it up to him, they surprise him with another party involving the entire neighborhood. Steinbeck shows that friendship and community can be forged anywhere. VERDICT Steinbeck makes the characters, who may be considered marginal, endearing. Narrator Jerry Farden reads the story as it is written: dispassionately, almost like reporting, which allows the listener to appreciate the wonderful humor and delicious irony. Note that this Penguin Audio edition is a reissue of the 1989 Recorded Books production.-Nann Blaine Hilyard, Zion-Benton P.L., IL (c) Copyright 2012. Library Journals LLC, a wholly owned subsidiary of Media Source, Inc. No redistribution permitted.