Monday, May 24, 2010

Review: The Pearl by John Steinbeck

genre: adult fiction
book 2 of 5 for the Classics Challenge

A poor oyster-diving fisherman. His loyal and humble (but not unknowingly submissive) wife. Their sparse existence on the shores of Mexico.

Life is hard yet familiar, with the strengthening song of family allowing them some contentment with their infant son. And then, diving one day, he finds it. The Pearl of the World. Huge and beautiful, sure to provide for the life of comfort they've never even had the courage to imagine. Right? Something that is so big and beautiful has to bring you joy, right?

This hauntingly simple and short story is pretty transparent - the thing you dream of bringing you grief. And yet, there is a depth to the changes in husband and wife, how riches in the hand suddenly change your view of what's always made you happy before. There are lessons to be learned in these pages, if you are willing to accept the somewhat triteness of the message. As always, Steinbeck is a genius with words, it reads so smoothly and heartfelt. His Mexico feels so real: the boats and the heat, the brush houses and the almost too closely knit community. This was a fast and interesting read.

5 comments:

Gerbera Daisy Mom said...

Should have picked this "fast" read instead of my last choice. Oy!

Deb said...

i think i read this in high school... it sounds vaguely familiar, but maybe because it has echoes of "the old man and the sea." anyway, i'll have to give it another look.

Jason said...

"Triteness?" I think timeless would fit as a better description of the message. Triteness has too much of a negative connotation.

As for the description of that part of Mexico, Steinbeck does a superb job, very accurate and articulate. I've lived in that part of Mexico and reading this brought back many memories of the area.

Barbara H. said...

I think I read this in high school, too, but it looks like it is worth a reread. I love your phrasing here: "how riches in the hand suddenly change your view of what's always made you happy before."

Tu & yo said...

excelente su libro, lo he leido cientas de veces :D

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