Review: Of Mice and Men

Of Mice and MenOf Mice and Men by John Steinbeck

My rating: 5 of 5 stars

A short story that packs a punch at least twice its size.

There is such beautiful imagery in Of Mice and Men, and it’s often right where you don’t expect it yet uncannily right where it belongs. There’s this in the first moments after a murder and before its discovery:

It was very quiet in the barn, and the quiet of the afternoon was on the ranch. Even the clang of the pitched shoes, even the voices of the men in the game seemed to grow more quiet. The air in the barn was dusky in advance of the outside day. A pigeon flew in through the open hay door and circled and flew out again. Around the last stall came a shepherd bitch, lean and long, with heavy, hanging dugs.

Steinbeck’s use of ‘Chekov’s gun’ is superb (and literal): the first shooting – of a loyal creature that doesn’t deserve to die, a noble creature that obediently walks to its own death – one that hurts everyone, and the second shooting – of a hopeless creature that almost doesn’t deserve to live – leaving almost everyone feeling a sense of righteousness.

The story is almost a hundred years old, and set in a place and time I don’t know but thanks to Steinbeck I was there.

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