The Red Pony by John Steinbeck
Reviewed by Jason Koivu
My rating: 4 of 5 stars
A story about a pretty, pretty precious pony? Hurray! This is going to be giggly joyous laughy-good pony time!...What? It's written by John Steinbeck? Fuck. Sorry, pony, either you and/or everyone you love is going to end up dead.
Yes, these are tales of living on a ranch in the early days (well, early-ish) of California. But underneath, they are more of the same Steinbeck: the vignettes of the hardscrabble life of immigrant farmers.
Specifically it's 2nd and 3rd generation immigrants, such as seen in Tortilla Flat. The people are established. This is their land. It feels as if it's always been theirs, but there were others before them...ghosts now.
The Red Pony follows a boy, Jody, who is coming of age and given the responsibility of raising his own horse. Steinbeck captures well the emotions and perspective of a child feeling his way in a world that is changing for him, new understandings that come at young folks daily like minor revelations. Will he cope?
Thought I'd give this a read, what with my interest in animals being piqued by Goodreads' recent ads for All Creatures Great and Small. The Red Pony reads like a collection of related short stories. It definitely doesn't feel like a complete novel with a plot, climax and satisfying finish. There's just theme, like viewing a photo album. That can be enjoyable too, after all, every picture tells a story, don't it?
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