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Chris Blocker

Literary snobbery and other thoughts by Chris Blocker

The Red Pony

The Red Pony - John Steinbeck It's easy to misunderstand Steinbeck's The Red Pony. I can think of a couple reasons why this is so. First, the title. Steinbeck was known as having a problem with titles. Naming this one The Red Pony was probably his first idea—much like Something That Happened was his original idea for Of Mice and Men and The Salinas Valley his title for East of Eden. Fortunately, Steinbeck's friends, editors, and publishers were not afraid to offer criticism of his titles. Perhaps they should have had something to say about this one. Secondly, this is not a novel. And no, it's not a novella either. It was not originally meant as a stand alone piece. It was part of a collection and the stories within are stories meant to essentially stand individually. Trying to connect all the loose ends can be quite frustrating. Finally, this isn't a children's book. Not sure how it ever came to this classification, but it is misleading. Granted this is one of Steinbeck's most child-friendly works, but only for the parent who doesn't mind subjecting their child to the image of a vulture vomiting up the eye of a boy's beloved pony.Misunderstandings aside, The Red Pony was a wonderful 100-page read. Steinbeck's strong language and characters are throughout. As are his stories of hope, saturated with fear and sadness, misunderstandings and missed opportunities. It's a fabulous introduction to the power of Steinbeck when viewed as a collection of four short stories. Four short stories about a boy—and not so much his pony.