by John Steinbeck
New York, N.Y. : Penguin Books, 1986, c1935. 207 p. Fiction.
Adopting the structure and themes of the Arthurian legend, John Steinbeck created a “Camelot” on a shabby hillside above the town of Monterey, California, and peopled it with a colorful band of knights. At the center of the tale is Danny, whose house, like Arthur’s castle, becomes a gathering place for men looking for adventure, camaraderie, and a sense of belonging—men who fiercely resist the corrupting tide of honest toil and civil rectitude.
As Nobel Prize winner Steinbeck chronicles their deeds—their multiple lovers, their wonderful brawls, their Rabelaisian wine-drinking—he spins a tale as compelling and ultimately as touched by sorrow as the famous legends of the Round Table, which inspired him.
I'm a huge fan of John Steinbeck and his signature writing style, but this book didn't pull me in like his other works did. Once again, he paints us a beautiful picture of the scenery (Monterey, California) and introduces the challenges of the time (Prohibition, Great Depression Era) in a subtle way. I find issue with the characters. I had a difficult time establishing a connection with them. Perhaps it is because this book isn't full of many serious, life-altering scenes. The book itself feels more casual than, say, The Grapes of Wrath. Even still, I would recommend this book (along with any John Steinbeck) book to anyone looking to be immersed in a new place and a different time.