Friday, October 02, 2009
Of Mice and Men
Steinbeck, John. 1937. Of Mice and Men. 103 pages.
Short and oh-so-bittersweet. Of Mice and Men is the first Steinbeck that I owned. (Thanks to Jennie!) But I'm glad it wasn't the first that I ever read. (That would be Tortilla Flat.) Because knowing me, if I'd read it first, I don't know that I would have rushed out to read any of his other books. (Does that make me a horrible person?)
Though I'd not read it before, it seemed familiar to me. Without knowing it, I think I'd been exposed to the complex friendship between Lennie and George. These two migrant workers (ranchers) are coming to a new job--having fled their previous one. If you want just a plot summary, there are better places to find it. Because I can't think of ways to describe it without giving everything away.
What I liked about it...
I thought it was well-written. I thought it was complex and intricate. But it wasn't wordy. It didn't need to be in order to have substance and worth. I thought it was clever in its use of foreshadowing for the most part. I thought the characters were well developed and human. I didn't always like them. I didn't always understand them. I found a few to be too gritty. But whether I like them (or not) is not really the point. I felt that they were real. I felt for quite a few of them. These characters (some of them more than others) are tragically drawn. These were men trapped in their circumstances in some ways.
The novel made me sad, but it also made me think. It made me sad because it's a depressing book. A harsh book. A book that examines mental illness. Lennie broke my heart. I wanted there to be a different ending, a happier ending. But the truth is, in that world, in that time, there really couldn't have been a happy ending. Once things were set in motion, there was no going back. And the signs and clues are all there. George couldn't protect Lennie from Lennie. No one could.
So I thought it was good--in a way. But it was a bit too tragic for me to love. (Says the person who finds Frankenstein a comfort read.)
© Becky Laney of Becky's Book Reviews