February 27th: Happy Birthday John Steinbeck


If we’re sharing favorite Steinbeck books, add “Sweet Thursday” to your list. It remains my all time favorite book, even after at least a dozen readings (I’m about to go start it again). Doc Ricketts happens to also be my favorite literary character for a multitude of reasons, not least of which is Steinbeck’s very apparent affection for his dear friend.

Sweet Thursday is the sequel to Cannery Row, which is my second favorite book. The difference is that Sweet Thursday tells a more cohesive story focused on Doc as a central character, where Cannery Row was more of a series of stories loosely centered around a single story. Both are worth reading if not for their humor, then for the care in which Steinbeck treats and builds his characters.


Then, with time, the squatters were no longer squatters, but owners; and their children grew up and had children on the land. And the hunger was gone from them, the feral hunger, the gnawing, tearing hunger for land, for water and earth and the good sky over it, for the green thrusting grass, for the swelling roots. They had these things so completely that they did not know about them any more.

Chapter 19, Grapes of Wrath.

pretty good stuff


Tortilla Flat is a personal favorite novel of mine.

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Cannery Row is my favorite Steinbeck, and had not heard of Sweet Thursday. Going to read that shortly, now that I know about it.


It does not appear to be February 27. Am I not getting the joke again?

It’s like visiting old friends and getting to know them better in the process.

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They are just late.

Or early, if they are using the Julian Calendar, where it is still Feb 18th. Damn Pope Gregory!


My favorite, too, as I grew up in the San Joaquin Valley. Also love East of Eden and The Pearl.

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If you like Cannery Row/Sweet Thursday, you may like to know that Doc was based on a real marine biologist, Ed Ricketts, and that he and Steinbeck actually went on expedition together in 1940, described in The Log from the Sea of Cortez.


Yup - Also a great book. Among the results of that trip was Between Pacific Tides, authored by Ed Ricketts and still a primary source of information for marine biologists on the west coast. Ed Rickett’s lab is still intact on Cannery Row - I believe it’s used by a local organization as their headquarters. My understanding is that they’ve maintained the lab much as Ricketts left it. I’ve been looking for an opportunity to visit it.

My bad - Pacific Biological is apparently now maintained by the City of Monterey as an appointment only museum. Looks like I’ll be heading down to Monterey soon!


Y’know, Ed Ricketts was in many ways himself a happy mutant… Boing Boing meetup? :wink:

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