Buddha Reads: Cannery Row by John Steinbeck


A literary exploration of "Lessons in Chemistry: A Novel" by Bonnie Garmus.

Zoom gathering is scheduled for Sunday, August 20 at 5:00

A small group convened on Sunday, July 30th, to delve into the depths of "Cannery Row" by John Steinbeck. Joan, Bob, and Danny shared unanimous appreciation for the book. Adding to the discourse, we received emailed insights from Mary and Gary, both of whom equally relished the reading experience.

Though published in 1945, the narrative unfolds against the backdrop of the Great Depression in Monterey, California. The stage is set on a street flanked by sardine canneries, aptly named Cannery Row, focusing on the lives of its inhabitants. Among them are Lee Chong, the proprietor of "Lee Chong's Heavenly Flower Grocery"; Doc, a marine biologist at Western Biological Laboratories; Dora Flood, the dynamic force behind the Bear Flag Restaurant; Mack, the charismatic leader of the Mack and the boys crew; Hazel, a young lodger at the Palace Flophouse; and Eddie, a part-time bartender with a knack for ensuring the boys enjoy leftover "hooch" from patrons' glasses at Ida's Bar.

Bob lauded the book's skilled craftsmanship, particularly its character development. Joan eloquently pointed out that the denizens of Cannery Row embody contentment with their lives and situations, fostering a culture of acceptance. Memorable scenes echoed in the minds of the participants. One standout was the escapade of Mac and the boys on a frog-catching expedition for Doc, culminating in an ill-fated party planning endeavor. These parties, both the initial debacle and the subsequent triumphant event, stirred a shift in Cannery Row's ambiance. Danny highlighted the location's role as a distinct character, shaping the narrative's tone.

The discussion then turned to other literary works. Bob introduced "The Daily Stoic: 366 Meditations on Wisdom, Perseverance, and the Art of Living" by Ryan Holiday and Stephen Hanselman, a compilation of daily quotes from stoic philosophers. While not ideally suited for a book club format, the parallel between stoic and Buddhist philosophies resonated. Danny seconded the recommendation, drawing parallels between the two schools of thought. Danny's own suggestion, "The Wager: A Tale of Shipwreck, Mutiny and Murder" by David Grann, garnered interest. This true account of the British Man-o-war, which set sail in 1740 only to wreck on a desolate island, prompted enthusiastic agreement from both Danny and Bob.

Anticipation builds as we prepare for our next literary exploration, "Lessons in Chemistry: A Novel" by Bonnie Garmus. A virtual gathering via Zoom is scheduled for Sunday, August 20th at 5:00.

The club members have voted on our next set of books. The list includes the number of months that we will take to finish each:

“Follow the Rabbit Proof Fence” by Doris Pilkington (read in one month and discuss on September 24th)

• “Evergreen” by Naomi Hirahara (read in one month)

“This Tender Land” by William Kent Krueger (read in two month)

“The Big Sky” by A.B. Guthrie Jr. (read in two month)

We are also asking for suggestions for what to read as these four books will complete our current list of books. Stay engaged and enthralled as we continue to unravel the tapestry of literature together

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