Saturday, September 3, 2011

Review of "The Pastures of Heaven" by John Steinbeck

The Pastures of Heaven is a loosely connected vignette of stories that pays homage to Steinbeck's native Salinas Valley in California.  Interwoven but not necessarily interconnected, in classic Steinbeck style the stories tell of ordinary people and their ambitions: to tend their own farm, to start families, and to get away from city life, not to mention how they settle in to the Valley - or not.  Rendering the work relevant no matter what era it was written, Steinbeck smoothly delimits the moral quandaries these working men and women face through poignant dialogue and sublime narrative.  Even at his own mediocre, Steinbeck's style is still better than the majority of writers today.  As it is only a vignette, this book perhaps lacks the fullness of character and overarching profundity found in most of his better known works.  But for the true Steinbeck fan -- particularly those wanting to read more of his stories set in California -- this book is not to be missed.  Though the words do not exist in bulk, they are nonetheless tempered by humility.

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