I just finished reading Steinbeck’s Cannery Row and liked it a lot. It’s about these men (and a few women) that live in Monterey: a group of bums led by this guy Mack, a grocer Lee Chong, some kindhearted prostitutes, and a marine biologist, loved by all, who goes by Doc. I really loved the Doc character. He’s a really mellow, philosophical, set apart guy, lover of drink and women and music. The first half deals with the men’s lives and how they got that way; all around f-ups, who you can’t really trust, but not necessarily bad people. The second half, mostly revolves around these men and their desire to do something nice for Doc and what becomes of it.
After, looking up the book I found out the Doc character was based on a good friend of Steinbeck’s, Ed Ricketts, who was a marine biologist, ecologist and philosopher. I also read that in addition to Stienbeck, Henry Miller and Joseph Campbell were included in his circle of friends. Wow.. I would’ve loved to be a fly on the wall among that little group. I found out he was also the inspiration for another favorite character, the ex-preacher Jim Casey in The Grapes of Wrath.
So I’m all hopped up to read his books now. I’d love to get a hold on his philosophical essays & book Between Pacific Tides, which is supposed to be a pioneering work in marine biology. I love reading about things like that, tide pools.. ocean life.. it reminds me of playing make believe around tide pools growing up.
(Okay. As I write this I just noticed that NPR posted a story about Ed Rickett’s and Cannery Row. I can’t wait to listen to it.)
Aaanndd… If you already knew about Rickett’s you can disregard this message. It was news to me!