Of Mice and Men by John Steinbeck
My rating: 5 of 5 stars
John Steinbeck's name appears on lists of best books ever so often. Not having read him ever, I picked up a slim volume with some misgivings. Some of the classical, renowned authors are not easy to read.
"Of Mice and Men" was a slim book of 186 pages, in bold typeface and double space. "This should be easy to get through", I thought. It was.
At the start of the book George and Lennie are on their way to a farm that is some way off. They rest by the riverbank and eat. George wants to spend the night in the open as he finds it restful.
I could tell right away that George was the smart on and Lennie was thick. He needed a lot of coaching by George to not give away that he was a simpleton. George wants to make some money and move on. He wants to own a bit of a land somewhere. Lennie likes this dream of his and wants to able to pet rabbits on that farm.
Lennie is simple, but he is also very strong. He does not know his own strength and sometime ends up maiming the things he pets. George knows that he has to keep an eye on Lennie to keep him safe from harm, keep him from harming things.
This is a brilliant book. The story is narrated mostly in dialogues between people. The language is that of ranch hands, rough and basic. Despite the language being unrefined, the emotions of the protagonists are very well conveyed. The characters are quickly sketched and filled out in bold strokes that only a master artist has.
The story is short, but powerful. It is almost play-like. Despite its brevity, it has layers. It is about poor people who are barely a step above animals. It is about disadvantaged people who are not fit to mix with good folk. It is about dreams. It is about loneliness that comes from being a drifter.
It is a book that is going be in my mind forever.
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