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[[ Read Book ]] â Of Mice and Men â The Compelling Story Of Two Outsiders Striving To Find Their Place In An Unforgiving World Drifters In Search Of Work, George And His Simple Minded Friend Lennie Have Nothing In The World Except Each Other And A Dream A Dream That One Day They Will Have Some Land Of Their Own Eventually They Find Work On A Ranch In California S Salinas Valley, But Their Hopes Are Doomed As Lennie, Struggling Against Extreme Cruelty, Misunderstanding And Feelings Of Jealousy, Becomes A Victim Of His Own Strength Tackling Universal Themes Such As The Friendship Of A Shared Vision, And Giving Voice To America S Lonely And Dispossessed, Of Mice And Men Has Proved One Of Steinbeck S Most Popular Works, Achieving Success As A Novel, A Broadway Play And Three Acclaimed Films Whatcan I possibly add to a discussion of John Steinbeck s Of Mice and Men without drawing a high school English teacher s salary Considering I m not drawing bored glances from teenagers, I doubt that a check from LAUSD will appear in my mailbox anytime soon Published in 1937, this is the work that the Goodreads algorithms seem to have agreed is the author s most renowned For Stephen King, it s The Shining, for El Leonard it s Get Shorty and for John Steinbeck it s Of Mice and Men This is a novella, approximate length 34,720 words I read it in under forty eight hours The story revolves around two ranch hands traveling the highways and ranches of California, looking out for each other and trying to build enough of a stake to put down on their own piece of land Both were dressed in denim trousers and in denim coats with brass buttons Both wore black, shapeless hats and both carried tight blanket rolls slung over their shoulders The first man was small and quick, dark of face, with restless eyes and sharp, strong features Every part of him was defined small, strong hands, slender arms, a thin and bony nose Behind him walked his opposite, a huge man, shapeless of face, with large, pale eyes, with wide, sloping shoulders and he walked heavily, dragging his feet a little, the way a bear drags his paws His arms did not swing at his sides, but hung loosely. George Milton is the small man, the thinker Lennie Small is the child in a hulk s body Walking ten miles to a barley ranch south of Soledad after a bus driver with a grudge drops them off on the highway far short of their destination, Lennie is fascinated by petting mice or rabbits or anything with a nice texture Lennie has never laid a hand on George, enad by the tales his traveling partner tells of the land they ll settle someday When the men finally arrive for work, George does the talkingHe ain t no cuckoo, said George He s dumb as hell, but he ain t crazy An I ain t so bright neither, or I wouldn t be buckin barley for my fifty and found If I was bright, if I was even a little bit smart, I d have my own little place, an I d be bringin in my own crops, stead of doin all the work and not getting what comes up outta the ground George fell silent He wanted to talk Slim neither encouraged nor discouraged him He just sat back quiet and receptive. One of the reasons John Steinbeck is my favorite author is that when he pens description, I don t want it to end, and when he switches to dialogue, I don t want his characters to stop talking either Stephen King s dialogue can be tin, while El Leonard s attentiveness when it comes to prose is short spanned to say the least, but Steinbeck s descriptions and dialogue achieve a purity that captivates me It s like the difference between drinking water from a garden hose that s been drying in the sun with who knows what crawling inside it and one day, someone hands you a bottle of Perrier While most authors have been around people, with Steinbeck, I m always left with the undeniable impression he watched and achieved a wisdom about people Then he works that knowledge into his books and passes it along to the reader I find myself able to relate to Steinbeckthan I can the majority of contemporary authors, who often seem to have never been around humans who dreamed, drank, lusted, got into fights or trouble with the law, fell out with family members or worried about where their next meal might come from Crooks said gently, Maybe you can see now You got George You knowhe s goin to come back S pose you didn t have nobody S pose you couldn t go into the bunkhouse and play rummy cause you was black How d you like that S pose you had to sit out here an read books Sure you could play horseshoes till it got dark, but then you got to read books Books ain t no good A guy needs somebody to be near him He whined, A guy goes nuts if he ain t got nobody Don t make no difference who the guy is, long as he s with you I tell ya, he cried, I tell ya a guy gets too lonely an he gets sickFor those joining late, I m no English teacher, but if I encountered someone who was adamant that they didn t read fiction I m thinking men here and I wanted to try to get them to change their attitude, Of Mice and Men would be the novel I d hand them It s short, it s about men and work and figuring out a better future and loyalty and how things don t always work out the way you dream they will Yet the writing takes me away to another place I couldn t last a day bucking barley or bucking a sack of anything, but as Steinbeck knows well, we all yearn to be on the open road, traveling, camping out on a river and maybe eating beans just because we felt like it Lastly, Of Mice and Men has been adapted to film twice a 1939 production starring Burgess Meredith as George and Lon Chaney Jr as Lennie and a 1992 film with Gary Sinise as George and John Malkovich as Lennie Reading the novel, I heard Sinise s voice as George As Lennie, I heard the Abominable Snowman from the 1949 Looney Toons short directed by Chuck Jones, The Abominable Snow Rabbit References to Steinbeck s novel have been dropped by a ton of cartoon series, perhaps as much a tribute to Jones as to Steinbeck, but the homage that stands out for me are the characters of Pinky and the Brain on Animaniacs. The title of this novel is only 50% accurate, a very poor effort Yes, it s about men, but there s little or nothing about mice in these pages Mice enthusiasts will come away disappointed This got me thinking about other novel titles You would have to say that such books as The Slap, The Help, The Great Gatsby, Gangsta Granny, Mrs Dalloway and Hamlet have very good titles because they are all about a slap, some help, a Gatsby who was really great, a no good granny, a woman who was married to a guy called Dalloway and a Hamlet I have no problem with those titles But you may be poring over the pages of To Kill a Mockingbird for a long fruitless evening to find any mockingbirds coming to any harm at all Indeed, to coin a phrase, no mockingbirds were harmed during the making of that book So I rate that title only 5% accurate And some titles seem to have a word missing, such as Conan Doyle s The Sign of Four Four what It doesn t say Perhaps he completed the book and left the title to the very last minute and died as he was writing it down Same thing with The Crimson Petal and the WhiteWhite what Wallpaper Hat Cat Mouse Mockingbird Could beThe Crimson Petal and the White Gangsta Granny for all we know A poor title And what about The Dharma Bums I think a Cigarette or You Out is clearly missing from that title Another grossly misleading title is Women in LoveI can t be the only reader who was expecting some strong girl on girl action from DH Lawrence but I would have been better off fast forwarding to the middle part of Mulholland DriveNow that s what I call Women in LoveDH, take note Another badly chosen title is Hitler s Niece yes, it is 100% accurate, but at first glance it can look like Hitler s Nice, and surely that is going to put off a lot of potential readers except for the readers you really don t want And what about Call it Sleep call what sleep The Catcher in the Rye, The Postman Always Rings Twice, Flaubert s Parrot, The Camomile Lawn sometimes obscure titles can be solved if you understand that the author is referring to Death, so, the Catcher is Death, the Postman is Death, the lawn is Death and the Parrot is Death Of course, I may have got that wrong It s something I read somewhere and it just stuck in my mind Some other titles I would give low ratings to The Turn of the Screwcompletely baffled me I know that screw is what inmates call prison officers, so I was expecting a story about a concert put on by the staff of a large correctional institution It was nothing like that The Little Prince according to my system does rate 100% but I still think The Little Faux naif Idiot would have been better The Amazing Adventures of Kavalier and Clay actually, I rate this as 90% accurate there are two guys who are named Kavalier and Clay, and they do have adventures, but they aren t amazing A Clockwork Orange this must be a metaphor for I have given up thinking of a title for my novel No Name like A Clockwork Orange this must be where the author couldn t think of any title so in this case he left it without one, like the Byrds album Untitled, or by Sigur Ros, or several paintings by De Kooning and those other abstract expressionist types but to call a novel No Name is self defeating, because No Name then becomes its name epic fail, Mr Collins The Violent Bear it Away this is another example of a word missing possibly took or dragged , I expect that s the sort of thing a violent bear would do I m surprised the publisher did not catch this error. I needed a quick read because I stupidly forgot that the library would be closed yesterday for Veteran s Day I d exhausted my current supply, and I needed a short term fix to hold me until I could get some new product today So I grabbed Of Mice and Men off the bookshelf last night.And I m glad I did because I d somehow remembered that this was a depressing book How wrong I was Oh, sure there were some tense moments like when you think Lennie will accidently hurt Curley s wife in the barn What a relief when George and Candy come in at the last minute and stop anything bad from happening And isn t it nice that the scare changes both Curley and his wife so that they have a much better marriage and new appreciation for each other.Plus, it leads to the great moment when Curley is so grateful that he fronts George, Lennie and Candy the money to finally buy the ranch of their dreams Oh, and that last scene with George and Candy on the porch of their new home while Lennie tends the rabbits brought a tear to my eye.What s that you say I got the ending wrong No, I m quite certain this is what happened No Be quiet I can t hear you LA LA LA LA LA LA LA LA LA Well, somehow I ve managed to read close to 800 books by now, and none of those had been Of Mice and Men That has been remedied now, and I m feeling emotionally drained by it So yeah.I suppose pretty much everyone knows the heartbreaking story of Lennie and George I was relatively unspoiled and still knew what happened in the end I just did not know how or why, but figured out those pretty quickly into the bookAnd still that did not help the sense of impending doom that was like one protracted gut punch. I think that says something about the masterful writing where the story takes over so much that you keep reading despite the clear sense of where it is going, without having to rely on suspense or twists instead, going forward just on the impact of the story itself I ought to of shot that dog myself, George I shouldn t ought to of let no stranger shoot my dog. I used to work with Special Education kids some time ago And I have seen first hand what Steinbeck describes in Of Mice and Men the childlike vulnerability and innocence often combined with physical strength, just waiting for something bad to happen The children we took care of some of which topped my 5 3 frame by a foot or so and outweighed me by a good hundred pounds but despite that a few times I had to physically put myself on between them and a smaller child had, unlike Lennie, the society that is determined to protect them They were luckier than poor George s charge But I could not help but picture some of them, who have forever secured spots in my heart, in place of Lennie Small, feeling nothing but dread and sadness Lennie, who is as innocent as one gets, and yet as much of a unwilling menace as one can be And it was soul crushing.I think the impact of this story was that it did not have me taking sides I felt bad for Lennie I felt awful for Curley s wife who does not even have a NAME in this story I felt sad for George and what he had to do And I felt bad for the whole bunch of men who had names and stories, and a woman who got one but not the other You God damn tramp, be said viciously You done it, di n t you I s pose you re glad Ever body knowed you d mess things up You wasn t no good You ain t no good now, you lousy tart. And that s where this book lost stars for me Curley s wife, the unwilling almost antagonist victim of this story The woman who had no name except for the possessive one of her husband whose property and therefore trouble for everyone else she was viewed as It seemed that she was the one getting the blame, not as much the crazy volatile husband of hers After all, she asked for trouble, didn t she At least that s the nagging feeling I got from this story, from the way her character was handled, from the way it was repeatedly stated that atartlike her meant trouble for a man Blame the victim mentality does not sit well with me, and I can t help but think that Steinbeck did that view spoiler And the words, Poor bastard that George utters over her corpse, thinking of Lennie not about the young woman who was brutally murdered, but of Lennie, the murderer those made me so sad for the victim that did not get her share of sadness hide spoiler