Tuesday, March 26, 2013

Review: The Red Pony by John Steinbeck

Title: The Red Pony
Author: John Steinbeck
Genre: Classics
Publisher: Penguin Classics
First Published: 1933
Pages: 112

Rating - 4 out of 10

I feel guilty about disliking this book, but I simply couldn't enjoy it. I looked for things to like about it, but I still found this short little book a chore to get through. It's a shame, because Steinbeck is one of my favorite American authors.

This book opens with a young boy living on a modest ranch in California, who is looking forward to the day that he will finally get to ride his fiery chestnut pony. I have heard this book referenced as a children's book, but now that I have read it, I am surprised that anyone could classify it as such. As much as "Black Beauty" or "Misty of Chincoteague" may be cheerful and hopeful, this book is dark and disheartening. Steinbeck puts his characters, especially the little boy, through a lot. The first tragic death happens within the first two chapters, and the trouble is only just beginning.

Every chapter moves on to a new sort of vignette-type plot, almost like a series of short stories. The only interesting character, an old Indian man who randomly wanders onto the ranch, disappears within a few pages.

Perhaps I will re-visit this book one day in hopes of finding more to like about it.