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Listening to the Silence

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The Owl Killers
Karen Maitland
The Boys in the Boat: Nine Americans and Their Epic Quest for Gold at the 1936 Berlin Olympics
Daniel James Brown
Cloud Atlas
David Mitchell

Of Mice and Men

Of Mice and Men - John Steinbeck I'm not sure that this story even needs a synopsis, as it is so well known. However, for the sake of completeness I will attempt to provide such. George and Lennie are drifters moving from job to job in an attempt to save enough money to buy their own piece of land. Men on of their sort were common enough during the Great Depression, and much of the novel is based off Steinbeck's own experiences as a bindlestiff in the 1920s. Lennie was simple-minded and relied almost completely upon George. It was this very simpleness that had them constantly moving from town to town, and ranch to ranch. And in the end it was this simpleness that would destroy their plans, just as they were about to come to fruition.

I've been told time and time again that I needed to read this novella, that it was powerful and moving. I really felt sorry for Lennie and though I didn't like George, I respected him for taking care of his friend. Perhaps my favorite character was Candy, the one-handed cripple they meet at their last job. Yet I wasn't moved by it in the way that I expected. Perhaps my expectations were just too high or perhaps I just needed more as at just over 100 pages, this was a very short book.

The novel was very simply written, which I think suited the characters and the setting. I believe that it was Faulkner who said that you wouldn't need a dictionary to read Steinbeck, and I don't know that I've ever heard a more accurate description, though I don't think that it's necessarily as insulting as Faulkner intended it to be. A book doesn't have to be populated with words and techniques that no one else understands to be good, though I admit to rather enjoying that sort of literary novel. Steinbeck relied more on the truth and reality of his subjects to stand the test of time, and they have.