Context: Finished this off the day we decorated the meeting house with palms and said thanks to our wasfamilis.
Steinbeck hasn’t written anything that I haven’t enjoyed in some form or other. This was no exception. It’s a simply parable of what greed can do to people. But, at the same time, it’s a heavy critique of the class issues that made The Grapes of Wrath such an amazingly moving book.
Kino awakened in the near dark.
And the music of the pearl drifted to a whisper and disappeared.
I found the opening a bit simplistic. It reminded me, in terms of its setting, a little of Hemingway’s Old Man & The Sea. But Steinbeck is not Hemingway and so I felt it a bit tedious to start with. But chapter 3 was excellent. At this point, Steinbeck starts to characterise certain individuals with great skill, particularly the money-grubbing doctor.
Kino is a dirt poor pearl fisherman who one day finds the pearl of everyone’s dreams. But a little like Midas’ touch, the wealth is a burden rather than a blessing and it seems as if there’s no way Kino can realise his newfound riches. The pearl changes everything, forever. How it does so though, is something you’ll have to find out.
I felt a lot of influence on Coelho in this story so if you like him, you’ll definitely like this. It predates his stuff by decades obviously and I can see the genesis of a lot of his style of writing here – the parable illustrating social mores that must be conformed to or broken depending on the moral of the story.
It was a very quick read and a good intro to Steinbeck for those that haven’t read any. However, for those that have, this comes in no way close to any of his greater works such as Cannery Row, Mice & Men or Grapes. If you like this, you’ll be entranced by those.