Sunday, September 29, 2019

Book Review: The Pearl by John Steinbeck (short novel)

Update Amber Iven left a comment about this book review on Linked In. In her comment, Amber mentioned the John Steinbeck Museum. 
Museum, I thought, how cool. A little digging and I found--National Steinbeck Center.

The Pearl (a 90-page short novel written as a parable) opens with a heart-warming yet simply written scene--the morning activities of a peasant family. Without Steinbeck stating it, you know that Kino (the father) is content you see it, you feel it. Kino loves his family with such force you want everything to be okay for them, you long for perfect happiness for them. But Kino hears the song of evil... The scorpion strikes, stinging Kino's son. Coyotito will die without treatment. Knowing this, Juana (Kino's wife) gathers brown seaweed and makes a poultice. 'But the remedy lacked...authority because it was simple and didn't cost anything.' (p. 15) The town doctor refuses to treat the baby because Kino is unable to pay.

First published in Woman's Home Companion as 
"The Pearl of the World"
First published by Viking Penguin Inc. 1947
First published in Penguin Books 1976
Reissued in Penguin Books 1986

I was introduced to The Pearl in junior high (middle school). This story has haunted me ever since. I was profoundly saddened (outraged) by the family's struggle. I understood the story's moral as a caution--know your social status and don't reach beyond it for if you do something bad will happen to you and your family. 
'It is not good to want a thing too much.' (p. 18)
Yet what Kino dreams of--the right to marry, the right to clothe his family, the right to educate his son--should be granted to all men.

John Steinbeck gave voice to the labourer, brought them to life on the page, and made us care. That was his genius.

'Mayne Island' photo by ldyck

On this blog in October...

We're in a little bit of a rut. We need to shake things up. So, we'll start October with two lists.

October 6:  Writing about writing quotes (list)

This list is in celebration of this blog's 9th anniversary. Yes, we're nine. We made it. Over the years, I've shared tons of book reviews with you. Recently, I re-read my notes and found wonderful quotes about writing. And I thought, what better way to celebrate than to share them with you.

October 13:  Book Reviewer Blogs (list)

I searched the blogosphere and found these book bloggers. If you're an author with a new book... If you're a reader looking for a new book... These blogs are an invaluable resource.

October 20:  The Craftsman (short story)

While in elementary school, one of my short stories was published in my community newspaper. Where is that short story now? I have no idea. 
Grey clouds gathered overhead and...
Wait what's that lump under all that dust?
Huh, it's the plot.
Click went the pen. Word after word and the story appeared.
And now I can't wait to share it with you.

October 27:  The Picture of Dorian Gray (book review)

The Picture of Dorian Gray has long been one of my favourite movies (the 1940s film). I thought it was high time to read the gothic novel. Here's what I thought...

'Abby in arms' photo by ldyck

Sharing my Author Journey...

This week I entered a writing contest--The CBC Short Story Prize...

for a chance to win $6,000, a two-week writing residency at the Banff Centre for Arts and Creativity and to have my work published on CBC Books. Four runners-up will receive $1,000.
So if you're a Canadian living in Canada or elsewhere, enter today.
fee is $25
deadline is October 31, 2019