It may come as a surprise to many that despite having an English degree, I’d never read Of Mice and Men by John Steinbeck. Of Mice and Men is a short story that commonly finds itself as one of the foundational works of any English curriculum, except mine apparently.
People in other classes and in other schools had read it, but it never showed up as a required text in any of my classes from high school through college. Based on my experience, any book was that specifically taught in an English class was sure to be a dry bore that made me want to slam my head against my desk. Despite this, I obtained a copy of it so I could say that I read it but also so I could add another classic to my “have read” list.
I read it in one night. It’s a relatively short story, only one hundred or so pages. One thing that surprised me was Steinbeck’s writing style. It was unique, no doubt, but it also flowed and gave you just enough detail without drowning you in it. I’ve read stories by Stephen King, and some will condemn me for saying it, where he holds your head under the water that is lengthy detail before quickly lifting you out to see the monster before thrusting your head back under the surface. Steinbeck’s details were necessary, calculated, and the style of the story fit the plot well.
His character development was insane. He didn’t narrate everything and tell you each character’s background in a flat paragraph to bring you in. By allowing his characters to develop via dialogue, we seem to feel closer to them. They feel more real, not created. Having never read John Steinbeck’s work before, I could see why it had become such a classic.
When he had to describe a character outside of dialogue, he gave you brief but encapsulating information. Lennie was big and George was small. You didn’t need much more than that that wasn’t explained in the dialogue. Every character was described in this way and it made the story progress at a steady pace without bogging you down. Like I said, I finished it in a night which may not be much of a feat for those who’ve already read the book but I’m not the fastest of readers.
One thing I want to do is add more classic works to my “have read” list and this was one of many. I have more waiting for me to crack them open and all in due time. I’ve come to add Steinbeck into my list of classic works as well as enjoyable classic authors. I’ll be making more time to read in the coming months to ensure I reach my goal of developing a more well-rounded knowledge of literature and make the knowledge I’d received from obtaining my degree seem like it was worth more than it had originally proven to be. If you haven’t read Of Mice and Men yet, I would highly recommend this story as it’ll be one you’ll enjoy and remember for the rest of your days.