I’m not sure it really makes sense to have done this little Steinbeck review project this way, but it’s the way I did it. Anyway, this is the omnibus that contained the four novels I just reviewed: The Moon is Down; Cannery Row; The Pearl; East of Eden. Well, my thoughts on the novels are established. I should just point out that anyone interested in serious reading should familiarize themselves with the Library of America, which puts out astonishing omnibuses (omnibi?) like this all the time. I’ve read a handful of the massive library and hope to read more; you could essentially start at the beginning and spend a lifetime reading through the entire library and get a phenomenal experience of great literature.
Anyway, this one works, I think, really, really well. It covers a period in Steinbeck’s life when he was creating some really great stuff and I think this volume really helps you get a grip on the breadth of the man. Essentially all four of these books are written in vastly different milieus and in very different styles. Steinbeck often gets accused of just writing a certain kind of American novel, but you see him here writing a European war novel, a low-class comedy, a South American suspense tale and an American epic/character drama. And I did enjoy the way the volume built. It starts with the three shorter novels, of course, and slowly builds to the masterwork of East of Eden, which is a nice way to read the books. Of course, we’re talking over 1,000 pages of material here. I suppose one might get tired of reading one author for this long, but suffice it to say I certainly didn’t. Anyway, this was a great omnibus, a wonderful collection of fantastic literature. Highly recommended. 4 stars.
tl;dr – as my glowing reviews of the novels included here should indicate, I recommend this wonderful omnibus as a great way to experience a decade of Steinbeck’s writing in one handy volume. 4 stars.