Of Dreams And Lives

Review of Of Mice And Men; John Steinbeck; pp 107
– Darsana Mohan

And as happens sometimes, a moment settled and hovered and remained for much more than a moment. And sound stopped and movement stopped for much, much more than a moment. Then gradually time awakened again and moved sluggishly on.”

John Green once said something along the lines of ‘To be a great writer you have to read great writers. Reading is the only apprenticeship writers have.’ Reading Of Mice and Men by John Steinbeck lies a testament to that. It is such a beautifully crafted novella, one that stood the test of time, clearly evidenced by the fact that it was first published in 1937.

We are introduced to the main characters, George Milton and Lennie Small as they make their way to a ranch, a few miles away from the Salinas River in America. Fleeing from their past and the antagonists in it, the two intend to buy their own land one day and live off it to sustain themselves. George, the smaller of the two, is the brains while Lennie is clearly the dumber one, however making up for it in size. The story proceeds with George and Lennie’s stay in the new Ranch and their interactions with Candy the old swamper, Curly the arrogant bosses’ son, Curly’s supposedly salacious wife and others. The protagonists are brilliantly portrayed and not by the author’s soliloquy but by the characters themselves and their actions.

The stand out factor of the book is that it is predictable and yet manages to emotionally engage you till the end. I have encountered very few books at that, where I could detect the plot a mile away and yet manage to be equally wrung out when reading it.

Of Mice and Men is a thin novel, 120 pages light, and most of it is filled with delectable prose describing the Salinas River and the sycamore trees gracing its banks.

There is a path through the willows and among the sycamores, a path beaten hard by boys coming down from the ranches to swim in the deep pool, and beaten hard by tramps who come wearily down from the highway in the evening to jungle-up near water. In front of the low horizontal limb of a giant sycamore there is an ash pile made by many fires; the limb is worn smoothly men who have sat on it.

All in all, what I kept thinking throughout was, in the hands of someone less capable, this story would have been easily dismissed as ordinary and plain.

**Darsana Mohan is an aspiring creative sentence construction enthusiast. She is 21 going on 22 and balks at the idea of turning even aged.  She frequently reviews books, music and movies and routinely forgets to feed her cat.

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Rating: 9.6/10 (8 votes cast)
Of Dreams And Lives, 9.6 out of 10 based on 8 ratings

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This entry was posted on Saturday, November 3rd, 2012 at 9:31 pm and is filed under Fiction, Reviews. You can follow any responses to this entry through the RSS 2.0 feed.


  1. November 7th, 2012 | Paulette Mahurin says:

    Coming upon this review, is serendipity. Steinbeck is one of my all time favorite authors, and for the very reason you mention, “The protagonists are brilliantly portrayed and not by the author’s soliloquy but by the characters themselves and their actions.” He was one of the authors I read, and read again, while writing my own book. Just last week a reader (a seasoned author) reviewed mine and here is what she wrote, “Upon reading this book, I was reminded of the Nobel Prize-winning book ‘Of Mice and Men’ (1937) by John Steinbeck. Both of these literary works put forth examples of the human condition, of the fear of living life free but with the positive hope for achieving a better way of life.”What higher praise could a writer possibly receive, I can think of none.

    I did not come to blow my own horn, but to share. And, honestly, I’m thrilled to read what you so wonderfully wrote. What a task, to review Steinbeck. Bravo to you! If you haven’t read, “The Grapes of Wrath” might I suggest that? My favorite.


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