My laziness aside, I really loved Sweet Thursday, even more than Cannery Row. In fact, I'm close to knocking Haruki Murakami down a rung and declaring Steinbeck my Favorite Novelist. His language is soooo beautiful, and lots of his stories, especially in these two novels, are lovely in a sentimental sort of way.
For what can a man accomplish that has not been done a million times before? What can he say that he will not find in Lao-Tse or the Bhagavad-gita or the Prophet Isaiah?
Sweet Thursday is a sequel to Cannery Row. This one begins after World War II, and Steinbeck spends a good deal of time talking what happened to the characters in Cannery Row - those who went to war and those who didn't. Most of the first novel's characters reappear here, and the focus is similar. You can read about Cannery Row in my earlier post.
In Sweet Thursday, the central plot line is similar to that of its prequel: Mack and the boys are trying to cheer up Doc. This time, instead of throwing parties that inevitably destroy Doc's lab, they want to find him a wife. All of Cannery Row's residents are involved, even the new ones. And, as in the earlier novel, Mischief Ensues.
Sweet Thursday is one of the best novels I've read in a really long time. Steinbeck captures the setting and time period amazingly well, and all of the characters are well-rounded. The only other Steinbeck novels I've read are Travels with Charley, Of Mice and Men, and The Grapes of Wrath, which was my favorite before Cannery Row and Sweet Thursday. I'll read East of Eden soon.