Book #52

The Vigilante by John Steinbeck

'Everything was dead, everything unreal; the dark mob was made up of stiff lay-figures'

One of America's greatest writers explores mob violence, voyeurism and betrayal in these unforgettable tales of Californian life.

These were (embarrassingly) my first venture into Steinbeck. I have since pulled my copy of The Grapes of Wrath from my shelf in excitement, only to find it’s a horribly abridged copy for kids. I’ve no idea how that happened, but it’s now been discarded.

Anyway, these short stories were a nice introduction, with the titular and first story, The Vigilante being the most impactful. Steinbeck’s commentary on the atmosphere and emotion of the time is vivid, and his skill in depicting setting is exquisite. The wonder of his words only made me sorry the stories weren’t longer or more fully developed - hence the rush for the damned abridged novel which, as you can tell, I’m still very bitter about.

Steinbeck is clearly a master, and one whom I’m excited to explore in more detail. Perhaps I’ll start a petition to ban abridged novels, or at least have them wildly branded as such to avoid anyone being led down the garden path as I have.