“Trouble with mice is you always kill ’em. ”
I read this on a plane to Athens and I am sure my fellow passengers thought I’d come unhinged right then and there. I laughed, I cried, I covered my eyes afraid to read on. This is a very well-crafted book.On a warm summer evening, at a little lake in a clearing, George and Lennie come bumbling in. George looks out for Lennie, who has some sort of mental handicap, but he is a strong and kindhearted guy. Together they travel from farm to farm for work and dream of one day retiring and buying a farm on their own.
“George’s voice became deeper. He repeated his words rhythmically as though he had said them many times before. ‘Guys like us, that work on ranches, are the loneliest guys in the world. They got no family. They don’t belong no place. They come to a ranch an’ work up a stake, and the first thing you know they’re poundin’ their tail on some other ranch. They ain’t got nothing to look ahead to.”
But at the next farm trouble starts brewing. Curley and his wife are cogs in the perfect dream. Curley has an eye on Lennie of the fighting kind and his wife has an eye on Lennie of the tarty kind. What happens next should be read. It is a short little book, but it feels exactly as slow as it needs to be.
“At about 10 o’clock in the morning the sun threw a bright dust-laden bar through one of the side windows and in and out of the beam flies shot like rushing stars.”
The writing is beautiful, the characters crisp and real. You can almost smell the sweat off the workers back even while Steinbeck folds out his literary themes of friendship, loyalty and most of all dreaming. It’s an exploration of dreams and how easy it is to have them come true, but also how easy it is to lose them again.
“Everybody wants a little bit of land, not much. Jus’ som’thin’ that was his. Som’thin’ he could live on and there couldn’t nobody throw him off of it.”