I read this little book in an hour and a half. I like short books, they have such a high joy to time-investment ratio.
The book's title is a quote from one of Burns' most famous poems, To a Mouse, (also
where we get saying ‘the best laid schemes of mice and men often go
awry’ - nicely sent by Eddie Izzard). The tale is of a gentle, but
mentally-challenged, giant not clever enough to control his own
strength. It’s a good little story, and I found it an easy read.
book is also certainly very evocative, and Steinbeck’s description of
the dusty California countryside of ranches and barley buckers made me
feel like I was half there.
I liked the themes too. These characters stuck in dead-end lives - more
so than almost anyone in the Western World these days - manage to make
their lives bearable by powerful escapism and dreams. It is also telling
how meagre their dreams were back then (during the Great Depression) -
simply to own a small piece of land and work on it themselves!
have to say though, all in all, I couldn’t quite see why this novella
is so revered. The story, whilst interesting, didn’t take on quite the
archetypal feel of many other short novellas I’ve read (to me). By this,
I mean I didn’t find the narrative structure had the ‘eternal echo’ -
that the best stories do - into the constant, recurring patterns of our
lives. Nor did I see many psychological undertones (as in, say, Heart of Darkness), nor much symbolic richness. Perhaps I just missed it all,
but, in the end, I just didn’t find it very thought-provoking.
language in the book - almost all dialogue - is very natural, and the
characters, Lennie and George, for such a short book are very real. And I
agree with the blurb on the back of the book that I read that Of Mice
and Men is ‘stamped with the mark of permanence’. It’s just a short
tale, told without flaws.
I think everyone probably should read this book, but that’s partly because it takes so little time to read!
Of Mice and Men is available on Amazon