I read this brief classic by John Steinbeck, during a flight back to Milwaukee, from California. I spent the better part of a week there with my family. You can see the haikus, and a few photos, that the trip inspired here.
As my family was getting ready to come home, I saw my brother, Clint, reading this book. John Steinbeck has been a long time favorite of mine – having enjoyed “East of Eden,” “Cannery Row”, and “Grapes of Wrath.” Steinbeck has a way with language that really appeals to me – simple, emotional, straight-forward, “earthy” even. Clint appeared almost through with the book, and so I asked him to pass it to me, if he finished it during the flight. He finished, he passed, and so, over a 4-hour flight, I started and finished this book.
“Of Mice and Men” is the story of two men, Lennie and George, two drifting migrant workers in California, during the Depression. George is a small, crafty sort of guy – he seems to always be looking for an angle on things and, as a reader, I wasn’t sure he was someone I’d trust too far. Lennie, on the other hand, is a large, lumbering, simple-minded man who relies of George for guidance. There are many other characters on the farm that Lennie and George come to work on, and they are given a “solidity” that Steinbeck achieves with a spareness of words. It always amazes me what a full picture Stenbeck can “draw” with a few chosen words. I could really “see” some of these characters in my mind’s eye.
George and Lennie have dreams of what they hope to someday achieve with the money they make working on the farms – a farm of their own, where they could “live off the fat of the land” and do what they please. Life has a way though, of showing us what it thinks when we try to plan our lives out…and Lennie’s and George’s plans don’t exactly come to fulfillment.
This book is short, tragic, and everyone should check it out. For as quick a read as it is, there’s no reason to not read this classic. Also, this book apparently has been the victim of people trying to ban it with some regularity, even as recently as 2007. I don’t know, I didn’t see anything that offensive in it. So, go read it just to spite those small-minded people who would ban books.
If you’re in Milwaukee, and even if you’re not, you can get a copy of “Of Mice and Men” at local book-seller, Boswell Books. Here’s the link.