Thursday, January 12, 2012

Review: Of Mice and Men by John Steinbeck ★★★★★

Of Mice and Men"Guy don't need no sense to be a nice fella. Seems to me sometimes it jus' works the other way around. Take a real smart guy and he ain't hardly ever a nice fella." - Of Mice And Men

I really think I love John Steinbeck, which is surprising to me, because I never would have thought of myself as a Steinbeck reader. There's just something about the way he writes that cuts through all the bullshit and pretense and just tells it like it is, and I find that really refreshing. Sometimes they aren't easy, and sometimes they hurt, but it's the kind of hurt that, hopefully, makes us want to be better. At least it makes me feel that way.

I know it'll be hard for those of you reading this to believe, but I can sometimes be a bit of a bitch. I can be demanding, irrational, impatient and moody, and sometimes my annoyance and irritation is taken out on unsuspecting innocents, or at least people who don't really deserve the hell I serve up on a platter. So, this book resonated with me. George resonated with me, and I felt myself willing him to be patient, to just try to understand Lennie's perspective, all while my face is flushing red from the knowledge that I don't always practice what I was preaching. I'm a damn hypocrite.

I really felt this book, as seems to be the case with the Steinbeck books I've read lately. I could identify with all of the characters in some way, and I love that. In such a short book, it's easy to get the characters very wrong... either they are caricatures, or they are cliches or they just plain stink and are boring. I really felt like I understood these characters, even if I didn't like them. At the end of the book, when Lennie asks George to yell at him, isn't he going to hit him, isn't he going to tell him he'd be better off without him, I found that just heartbreaking... that Lennie's sense of normalcy stems from George's frustration with him. I felt for George too. He only wants to take care of Lennie, but sometimes it's so hard. He can't be everywhere at once, and has had to make so many sacrifices in order to keep Lennie out of the kind of trouble that just comes from not knowing any better.

This story is just a smidge over 100 pages long, so it won't take you long to read at all, and I highly recommend it. Or you could take about 3 1/2 hours and let Gary Sinise read it to you, which is what I did. I wasn't sure about Gary at first, but he grew on me really quickly. I've never seen the movie, so I didn't know that he'd starred in the remake. Gary Sinise has a very recognizable voice, at least I think so, and it's kinda the opposite of my "preferred reader", but I thought he did a wonderful job reading this. The voices and the characters were all just right, and I'm not normally a "voice" fan when it comes to audio... I want the story to speak for itself.

This one definitely did that. This is the kind of story that will stick with me for a long time. As I was listening, I kept writing notes about thoughts that struck me, feelings that I had, concepts and themes in the book, and all sorts of interesting stuff that I don't really know how to express without spoiling this wonderful little story.

"The best laid schemes of mice and men oft' go astray." -- Robert Burns

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  1. I read this book in high school and don't think I was in a place where I could appreciate it, because I don't remember really liking it. But, I'm thinking that a reread would definitely change my opinion, because I've also discovered that I'm a big Steinbeck fan. I LOVED Grapes of Wrath a year or two later when I read it in HS and I just think that Steinbeck is really kind of brilliant.

    Your post has motivated me! :) I'll definitely revisit this one soon!

  2. I never had to read this, nor anything by Steinbeck, but I'm sure to do so now. This has always been sitting on the back burner of my mind. It's so short, won't take anything at all!

    I loved your review and that you made it personal. Admitting your flaws is the first step toward changing them and bettering yourself. Takes a lot to admit to the world, essentially and major kudos to you. : )