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10 thoughts on “Sweet Thursday

  1. says:

    Dear Mack and the boys in Palace Flophouse I can’t tell you how grateful I am for the advice you gave the author in the prologue You were entirely right and helped him write a masterpiece After all who would know better than you how to describe the intricate balance of talk action and hooptedoodle and chapters and settings and characters that form the unforgettable microcosm of Cannery Row? Uninformed people might get the notion that Cannery Row is a hopeless dump filled with uneducated tricksters bums whores and criminals But that is not true at all Cannery Row is a place where people care for each other help out throw parties try to cheer each other up when they are depressed They fight for their right to their share of love peace and happiness and of course they suffer For they are humans First rate feeling acting living cheating drinking meddling humansStarting with good intentions and ambitions they screw up most of their projects and ruin themselves and each other in the process but they NEVER give up caring for Cannery Row and its inhabitants and trying to do things better next time despite repeated disastrous resultsSometimes that means throwing a masuerade party to raffle off the Palace Flophouse and a collective effort to get Doc married Sometimes it means breaking an arm as an act of compassion and sometimes it means faking a fake horoscope to relieve a poor hero’s anxiety over the burden that he’s destined to become the President of The United States Of AmericaIf Doc and Suzy had not ended up with each other against all odds they would have broken the hearts of Joseph and Mary Fauna Mack and the boys and especially Hazel who had to rise to unbelievable heights of thinking to solve Doc’s problem Whoever can follow the scene where Mack emergency teaches Suzy how to drive a car with chalk drawn on the floor without laughing and crying has not got the Cannery Row spirit Whoever manages not to burst out in bitter laughter when Mack and the boys hand over the gift for Doc the biggest TELESCOPE in the catalogue has no heart for the creation of our father who art in nature as uoted in Cannery Row the preuel to Sweet Thursday“Our Father who art in nature who has given the gift of survival to the coyote the common brown rat the English sparrow the house fly and the moth must have a great and overwhelming love for no goods and blots on the town and bums and Mack and the boys Virtues and graces and laziness and zest Our Father who art in nature”What does it matter that it was a MICROSCOPE Doc needed? After all Steinbeck manages to link the macro cosmos as seen in a telescope to the miniature world of Monterey by zooming in the cosmic microscope on the tiny dusty street of Cannery Row He re creates the nature of the whole world in a bitter sweet hilarious tale of heroic bums and loving hookersThis is Steinbeck at his best From first to last page I enjoyed every toss and turn of the story Steinbeck can make a literary home of anything just like Suzy can create a room for herself in a boilerAnd it is with bittersweet melancholy that I join Mack in his final caring statement closing the novel with a compliment for Hazel the unthinking bum with the biggest heart of all“I think you’d of made a hell of a president” he said


  2. says:

    Over the course of this year I have discovered an appreciation for American master story tellers I have noted in reviews that some of the books assigned to high school children may not be age appropriate and that one gets a deeper appreciation for some of these books by reading them through adult eyes It is in this regard that I have read Capote Hemingway and Steinbeck during this calendar year A month ago I found myself enjoying Steinbeck's Cannery Row only to discover in some comments to the review that he had written a seuel to this classic My interest piued I made it a point to read this seuel before the end of the year and once again Steinbeck did not disappointIt is after World War II Monterey and the entire state of California is still a sleepy place to call home although not as behind the times as it was during the interwar years The faces have changed along the row but the prime locales remain the same including Chong's Grocery the Bear Flag and Western Scientific Institution Yet Doc who had done early leg work toward establishing the Monterey Bay Auarium during the first book was one of the protagonists who fought in the World War II He came home a depressed changed man and it became the duty of Mack and his group of vagrant boys from the Flophouse to get the beloved Doc out of his funk Steinbeck has the entire book no matter whose story is being told narrated through Mack's eyes as he attempts to bring Cannery Row back to its prewar form and the once thought of auarium to fruitionMack had always been full of ideas and his chief idea here was to get Doc married He truly believed that a man as smart and noble as Doc needed a girl preferably a wife to get him out of his funk Almost immediately the entire Cannery Row gets behind Mack and his scheming because everyone loves Doc and do not want to see him fall to rot Enter the new proprietress of the Bear Flag Fauna who takes it upon herself to fix Doc up with her best girl Suzy Yet Suzy is no hooker and in her Steinbeck develops a character who is ahead of her time in that she desires independence and is hardened to the point of not needing a man to help her get ahead in life Not coincidentally Doc harbors similar thoughts in that his heart has always been with the ocean and its creatures and he has never needed a woman in his life Yet Mack is determined and Steinbeck takes this crazy idea of Mack's and develops over the course of the novelSteinbeck's story telling skills are impeccable Normally I am apprehensive to read seuels because I am already familiar with the characters and I feel that their story has for the most part already been told I actually found Sweet Thursday named for the day in which Mack hopes his dreams for Doc comes true to be better than Cannery Row In the first book Steinbeck takes his time introducing his readers to the time place and characters Even with his storytelling ability the flow to the novel felt choppy Yet in the second book he comes out and announces that his goal is to get Doc married off if it is the last thing he does As a result the novel moved faster than its predecessor and I found myself truly enjoying the story rooting for Doc and Suzy despite their shortcomings to see if they did indeed find a way to love in the endReading Steinbeck through adult eyes has allowed me to enjoy his writing in a mature light I hope to read of his novels in the coming year as he was truly gifted with superior storytelling skills I would have liked to see the Monterey Bay Auarium actually open during the course of this book but that is best left for one's imagination besides which it may not have existed during the course of Steinbeck's life Regardless the Nobel Prize is one of the United States unrivaled story tellers and I am happy to have rediscovered his work this year45 stars downgraded because I really was hoping to see the auarium open


  3. says:

    The War is over and life seems to go back to normal in Cannery Row Mack and the boys return to their feisty drinking at the Palace Flophouse and Fauna and the girls recover their usual business at the Bear Flag Companionship and good cheer camaraderie and the right dose of picaresue reign over the marginalized neighborhood in Monterey and the familiar pulse of tragicomedy takes hold of the comforted readerThere is only a discordant note in Steinbeck’s symphony that dulls the otherwise colorful picture old Doc has come back home from the front a changed man; his boundless love for the sea its marine creatures and even the appeasing voices of Gregorian chants have lost their allure Doc has run out of the selfless love that kept all the community tied up together and an impending sense of dread has darkened the mood of the whole neighborhoodTrying to reconnect with his former self and screaming out in stifling loneliness Doc reopens his laboratory and embarks on a new project to study the behavioral pattern of octopuses in situations of stress yes Steinbeck’s humor shines with gusto thinking that hard work will raise his spirits while ignoring the inner voice that nags mercilessly at him about what is missing in his life Luckily for Doc Mack and Fauna know exactly what he needs to be a complete man again and an improbable seuence of events will entertain and warm the heart of any reader who was missing the gang of crooks vagrants prostitutes and drunks that live in peaceful fellowship in Cannery RowOnce Steinbeck’s prose is a delight to read With loads of self effacing and good natured humor he uses comedy and rich vocabulary salted with fine irony and a pinch of surrealism to create characters that will beat the odds and prevail over the grim circumstances that have been imposed on themForty chapters with titles sporadic poetry and plenty of philosophy fill the pages of this endearing tale of love and friendship Time takes the best of us and new yearnings plague even the most lone wolves when the moment is right The sea is lonely without its fish Doc’s solitude is the birth of a metamorphosis that will bring some anguish and self doubt but also the only chance that his dreams and wishes will materialize and make him whole If you had such an opportunity would you let it pass by without risking everything you have to get it?I thought so and so did Steinbeck


  4. says:

    Sweet Thursday Cannery Row ReduxThe world is so full of a number of things I'm sure we should all be as happy as kings Happy Thought from a Child's Garden of Verse Robert Louis SteversonIf you love the works of John Steinbeck as I do it does not matter whether the critics have labeled one of his novels among his major novels Even a minor Steinbeck is a joy to pick up and read Even re read Recently I reveled in Cannery Row Originally published in 1947 Steinbeck set the novel in the waning years of the Great Depression It was natural to jump into Sweet ThursdaySteinbeck's return to the Row was published in 1954 Although the setting is the same the community has gone through significant changes Time has jumped forward to the years following World War Two The Sardine canneries that flourished providing the main economic flow in Monterey have closed The fisheries have been over harvested during the war yearsFamiliar faces are absent Lee Chong has sold his store and sailed to the South Pacific Dora the madam of the Bear Flag has died in her sleep Gay one of the boys living at the Palace Flophouse and Grill was killed in the warNew faces have arrived on the Row in their places Lee sold his store to Joseph and Mary known as the Patron a con man and chiseler looking to exploit the growing immigrant population Flora Dora's older sister has taken over the Bear Flag with a new perspective on the trade; to graduate her working girls into married women She records their graduation by posting a gold star to commemorate their happy events And there's Suzy a girl down on her luck who takes up residence at the Bear Flag though Flora doubts she's cut out for the working lifeOtherwise Steinbeck happily brings back the usual suspects to the pages of Sweet Thursday Doc remains the first citizen of the row the man to whom everyone goes for a consultation on any matter for which they need an answer However Doc has been to war He returns to find his lab inactive and uestioning his future whether he has anything left to contribute in the time left to him As usual he becomes involved in an esoteric scientific uestion the topic of apoplexy in octopi It will be the topic of a paper which he cannot seem to write And everyone notices that Doc just doesn't seem to be himselfOf course everyone on the Row wants to do something GOOD for Doc However Doc is caught in a spiral of despair “Now discontent nibbled at him not painfully but constantly Where does discontent start? You are warm enough but you shiver You are fed yet hunger gnaws you You have been loved but your yearning wanders in new fields And to prod all these there's time the bastard Time The end of life is now not so terribly far away you can see it the way you see the finish line when you come into the stretch and your mind says Have I worked enough? Have I eaten enough? Have I loved enough? All of these of course are the foundation of man's greatest curse and perhaps his greatest glory What has my life meant so far and what can it mean in the time left to me? And now we're coming to the wicked poisoned dart What have I contributed in the Great Ledger? What am I worth? And this isn't vanity or ambition Men seem to be born with a debt they can never pay no matter how hard they try It piles up ahead of them Man owes something to man If he ignores the debt it poisons him and if he tries to make payments the debt only increases and the uality of his gift is the measure of the man” In his wanderings Doc encounters a mysterious hermit who tells Doc what his problem is It's the lack of love Well everyone on the Row has figured that out Flora and Mack and the boys all think Doc needs a woman Flora thinks Suzy is ready for a gold starAll the residents of the Row set out to throw Doc and Suzy together However the two just don't seem to fit Actually they fight like cats and dogs But they're looking for the same thingSays Doc “Well I remember this girl I am not whole without her I am not alive without her When she was with me I was alive than I have ever been and not only when she was pleasant either Even when we were fighting I was whole” Says Suzy “Maybe what I want ain't anywhere in the world but I want it so I think there is such a thing I want a guy that's wide open I want him to be a real guy maybe even a tough guy but I want a window in him He can have his dukes up every other place but not with me And he got to need the hell out of me He got to be the kind of guy that if he aint' got me he ain't got nothing And brother that guy's going to have something” Steinbeck's return to the Row is a joyous ribald celebration of life It is a delight from start to finish Minor? If you're a literary critic maybe so For the Steinbeck admirer it's an absolute must Read it


  5. says:

    I was in Monterey uite recently and even visited the Steinbeck house in Salinas so I thought it would be a damn good time to read another Steinbeck As per usual it was a really good read and as per usual I was right But then again it's always a good time to read SteinbeckHaving said that I do worry every time I read one of his books because all the character's always die and it will always be sad The amount of hyperbole in that previous sentence is nothing to the level of my forgetfulness when it comes to Steinbeck's solid sense of humor For like Cannery Row Sweet Thursday is actually a comedyThat makes sense since Sweet Thursday is a seuel to Cannery Row Most all of the old characters are back and their aims are almost exactly the same Poor old Doc is set upon once again by Mac and the boys in their attempts do something nice for their beloved friend Of course they have their own happiness in mind and their ways and means aren't conducive to well laid plans so yes things fall apart That's the whole point I could see someone docking the book for being a repeat and coasting on the coattails of a successful predecessor but that someone is a douche Shut up sit back and enjoy the fact that a major novelist gave you of a good thing


  6. says:

    A book that is a love story on three levels We have the love that Mack Hazel and the gang feel for Doc their friend and mentor They want to set him up with a home a girl and a microscope don't ask and almost but not uite get it rightWe have the slow burn love affair between Suzy and Doc From totally different backgrounds repelled and attracted in eual measure but always set to get together in the endMost of all we have the love that Steinbeck clearly has for Cannery Row and it's motley cast of characters They may be living on the wrong side of town have intermittent work prospects and have a relaxed attitude to morals and the law but their colourful and joyful lives are a treat to read Written with affection and wit this is a wonderful book worth a read


  7. says:

    Published in 1954 John Steinbeck's seuel to Cannery Row arrived nine years after its predecessor and directly followed the monumental world building of East of Eden This might explain why Sweet Thursday is on much sober footing than Steinbeck's previous literary excursions to Monterey California; rather than loosely connected vignettes connected to a party this is of a fully formed novel with a doggone romance as its centerpieceIn a prologue Steinbeck indulges in a delightful bit of meta fiction Mack king of the Palace Flophouse and leader of the indigents who suat there comments on Cannery Row and how he would've written the book differently Mack's beef is that the author should've included chapter titles to help jog the reader's memory He then launches into general literary critiue that's easy to read as an address by Steinbeck to his contemporaries Well I like a lot of talk in a book and I don't like to have nobody tell me what the guy that's talking looks like I want to figure out what he looks like from the way he talks And another thing I kind of like to figure out what the guy's thinking by what he says I like some description too he went on I like to know what color a thing is how it smells and maybe how it looks and maybe how a guy feels about it but not too much of thatChapter 1 What Happened In Between picks up most of the characters of Cannery Row after the end of World War II Marine biologist Doc returns from a stint as a tech sergeant to find Western Biological Laboratories which Doc had entrusted to a trust fund baby and fellow scientist known as Old Jingleballicks run into disrepair Mack and the boys Hazel Whitey No 1 and Whitey No 2 still reside rent free at the Palace Flophouse but Lee Chong has sold the Heavenly Flower Grocery to a street hustler from Los Angeles named Joseph and Mary who found the odds in drug trafficking too steep and transitioned into human trafficking instead By chance Joseph and Mary discovered a few of his wards had musical talent He's now found a new hustle show business managementDora Flood owner of the Bear Flag Restaurant died in her sleep The whorehouse has been inherited by her next of kin an older sister from San Francisco named Flora who's rechristened Fauna by one of the regulars Fauna runs the Bear Flag as a finishing school of sorts priding herself in marrying her girls off to proper gentlemen Against every instinct Fauna takes in a new arrival to Monterey named Suzy a tough kid whose heart as well as her mouth is too big to make it as a hustler With no wife and no children Doc has begun to think seriously about his legacy and hits upon the idea to write a paper on cephalopods noting his many detailed observations about the moods of octopi Instead he develops a bad case of writer's block and a cloud falls over all of Cannery Row Fauna sees that Suzy is too opinionated to excel as an employee of the Bear Flag and needs a husband as much as Mack needs a wife to lift him out of his malaise Meanwhile Mack and the boys are worried that the deed to the Palace Flophouse has been sold to Joseph and Mary without his knowledge but when the new owner receives a tax bill the tenants will be expected to pay rent Mack's brainstorm is to raffle off the deed to the flophouse using the raffle to buy Doc an expensive microscope and rig the contest so that he inherits the flophouse as well Fauna and Mack's schemes converge without Doc or Suzy having much to say about it Sweet Thursday the day between Lousy Wednesday and Waiting Friday is a delight Steinbeck conjures a world I didn't want to leave The climate and atmosphere of postwar Monterey with its shuttered canneries its fishing fleets its working girls philosophers and charlatans is just one facet Steinbeck is a student of human nature and has a wonderful way of noting what's wrong with people without being bitten by bitterness or cynicismSeveral of the characters of Cannery Row get the idea to do something nice for Doc when in the end they do what they really want which is something nice for the person they know best themselves But their scams are always out in the open Characters lie cheat steal slack off and take advantage of each other but they feel bad about it too And with Monterey as small as it is they have to live with their guilt and atone for it in some way which I found hopeful This usually leads to a greater disaster but it makes for delightful readingSomewhere in there is the story of the whole human raceI leave you with some wisdom from Steinbeck regarding choosing a wife You know they say there's three good reasons for marrying a hustlerWhat are you talking about? said DocMack counted on his fingers Number one she ain't likely to wander she's done all her experimenting Number two you ain't likely to surprise her or disappoint her And number three if a hustler goes for you she ain't got but one reasonDoc watched him hypnotized What reason?She likes you Good night Doc


  8. says:

    Since listening to an audiobook edition of Cannery Row earlier this year and falling in love with both the characters and Steinbeck's writing I've looked forward to reading this seuel It's set about ten years after the events of Cannery Row Doc has returned from army service to his work at the Western Biological Laboratory and finds himself unsatisfied and depressed This makes the other denizens of Cannery Row decide that Doc needs a wife and that Suzy a new girl at the Bear Flag Restaurant is the wife for him Unlike Cannery Row which is essentially a series of linked vignettes Sweet Thursday has a traditional structure In many ways it resembles a 1950s romantic comedy think Spencer Tracey and Katharine Hepburn in which boy meets girl boy loses girl boy gets girl In the process of finding true love both Doc and Suzy have to learn a lot about themselves and about each other Getting Doc and Suzy together reuires effort from Doc's friends including Mack and the boys at the Palace Flophouse and in particular the dimwitted but sweet Hazel Dora and the girls at the Bear Flag Restaurant and the new owner of Lee Chong's Grocery who revels in the name of Jesus and MaryI loved reading this novel The characters are well drawn and the narrative contains both humour and wisdom about the human condition I love Steinbeck's use of language there's something about the directness of his prose its accessibility and its beauty which really speaks to me This is not a high brow work It may not be up there with The Grapes of Wrath in terms of literary merit but for anyone who has read and loved Cannery Row it's a real treat I will definitely be reading it again Spending time with Doc and those who love him is a joy Not that I visualise Tracey and Hepburn in the roles of Doc and Suzy but the sparring and the repartee which characterised their on screen relationship would be just right for this pair


  9. says:

    A good companion piece to CANNERY ROW I enjoyed this book


  10. says:

    The second time this book has caught me by surprise He's got a very I wanna say astute but it's something else He just keeps gettin' like GOTCHA me Steinbeck has a voice I can tune in to It's weird like how singing voices resonate whether I like the music or not styles of writing they either rattle your bones or it's nothing Just a story Words completely randomly and inelegantly strung together end rant a a a and here's the part You know Suzy there ain't no way in the world to get in trouble by keeping your mouth shut You look back at every mess you ever got in and you'll find your tongue started itThat's true said Suzy But I can't seem to stopYou got to learn it like you learn anything else just practice The next thing is opinions Hell Suzy we ain't got no opinions We just say stuff we heard or seen in the movies We're scared we'll miss something like running for a bus That's the second rule lay off opinions because you ain't really got anyYou got 'em numbered huh? said SuzyI could write a book said Fauna 'If She Could I Could' Now take number three There don't nobody listen and it's so easy You don't have to do nothing when you listen If you do listen it's pretty interesting If a guy says something that pricks up your interest why don't hide it from him kind of try to wonder what he's thinking instead of how you're going to answer him backYou're sure putting the finger on me Suzy said softlyI only got a little but it's the hardest of all and the easiestWhat number?I lost track Don't pretend to be something you ain't and don't make like you know something you don't or sooner or later you'll sure fall on your ass And there's one part to this one whatever number it is they ain't nobody was ever insulted by a uestion S'pose Doc says something and you don't know what it means Ask him The nicest thing in the world you can do for anybody is let them help you I don't know That's just a piece I just keep getting surprised by moments he hosts and it's in good context not just thrown in thereIf you like Monterey or simple times of some time ago I like his style It's simple but lovely I feel like I think it's boring subject matter it's the minutiae of life but it's strung together so nice and so thoughtfully it's like looking at a beautifully painted picture of an orange


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Sweet Thursday

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John Steinbeck ✓ 4 characters

Zens of a netherworld of laughter and tears from Fauna new headmistress of the local brothel to Hazel a bum whose mother must have wanted a daught Since liste