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I ve read about half of this collection before in various places And I would agree that the best stories in The Long Valley are those which have been heavily anthologized But reading them again in the context of the whole collection was surprisingly enjoyable Here you get a wide range of Steinbeck s tone with a single theme throughout violence.As with all collections, some stories were weaker than others In particular, I wasn t a fan of The Murder, a story which seemingly justifies the abuse of a wife Having never seen Steinbeck as a raging misogynist, I chalk this story up to an objective portrayal of the culture at the time Other stories in this collection may imply I m wrong, however We ll leave it at that.Certainly, Steinbeck was primarily a novelist He wasn t a masterful short story writer, but that doesn t mean he couldn t write a short story Obviously, he could I enjoyed this collection despite its limitations Steinbeck fans should definitely get around to reading this one Others may just wish to stick with the heavily anthologized stories e.g The Chrysanthemums, Flight. Full Review to follow This book is among my top ten favorites Often overlooked, these short stories are masterpieces of characterization, dialogue, and sense of place These are stories that may easily be read many times over I have, four times The Red PonyThe Red Pony was originally published in this volume However, readers will find haunting tales here that will linger far longer in their memory If you admire Steinbeck, pick up this volume you ve likely not read You will treasure it. This classic collection of short stories serves as the ideal introduction to Steinbeck s work Set in the idyllic Salinas Valley in California, where simple people farm the land and struggle to find a place for themeselves in the world, these stories reflect many of the concerns key to Steinbeck as a writer the tensions between town and city, labourers and owners, past and present Included here are the celebrated tales, THE MURDERER and THE CHRYSANTHEMUMS. I came to John Steinbeck s The Long Valley in the heels of his excellent novella, The Moon is Down Not having read any of Steinbeck s writing for years, there was just something soothing about his prose that made me reach for another work of his I must say that I was not disappointed The Long Valley is a collection of ten short stories, published in 1938 The stories are The ChrysanthemumsThe White QuailFlightThe SnakeBreakfastThe RaidThe HarnessThe VigilanteJohnny BearThe MurderAt 186 pages, it provides a healthy dose of variety, and a nice sampler of what Steinbeck, as a writer, was capable of Those familiar with Steinbeck s writing will discover some familiar subjects and locations, especially the rolling California countryside where a lot of his work is set Yet, while Steinbeck is undoubtedly famous for his work featuring the underdogs, and the out of luck characters he has become well know for, this collection of short stories explores a slightly darker side of his writing, one I was unaware of until now The stories here are often dark in nature not that Of Mice and Men was a cheerful tale by any means , and explore some darker thoughts inside the seemingly simple characters There are stories of abuse, of murder, of revenge.Steinbeck is a master of fluid prose His narratives effortlessly flow from one character to the next, from a city setting to the farming communities settled among the hills and valleys He visits hard working farmers, devoted wives, immigrants, traveling hobos, and passionate gardeners A cast of characters one would encounter without giving them much thought Yet, each one of them has an inner turmoil at times subtle, and at time prominent that adds a different dimension to each and every one of them This dimension weaves in and out of the narrative, and can be overlooked unless the reader pays attention Steinbeck s prose flows and flows, like a smooth stream where the rocks beneath the surface are hardly perceptible yet you are fully aware of their existence if you keep your eyes open And these rocks, the dirty secrets and dark thoughts of the characters are what makes this collection worth reading Unlike in our contemporary works where violence, instability, and inner turmoil are in your face to the point of dominating the story, Steinbeck s portrayal is subtle and almost nonchalant It requires an active participation of the reader, as do most intelligent works Recommended for fans of Steinbeck, and for those who appreciate fine, timeless writing. Unlike Steinbeck s other short story collection, The Pastures of Heaven, this book lacks thematic unity First published in 1938, many of the stories in the collection had been published previously The stories differ widely in tone and subject matter, from the rather creepy The Snake , to the prize winning The Murder , to the four stories which make up The Red Pony What the stories share is their Salinas Valley location, wonderfully descriptive prose, unsentimental depiction of the beauty and terror of the natural world and a compassion for human frailty A worthwhile read for Steinbeck completists. The Long Valley was published in 1938 The majority of its stories had previously appeared in various American magazines The stories themselves, Saint Katy the Virgin being the exception a strangely whimsical tale set in mediaeval France are set in Steinbeck s birthplace, the background for so much of his writing, the Salinas Valley in California Apparently, Steinbeck demanded that Saint Katy the Virgin be included in the collection, and although I enjoyed it, I have to admit that it does seem a bit of a puzzle alongside the rest In all the other stories, Steinbeck does what Steinbeck can do like no other informs us about the human condition He uses symbolism to good effect, and his descriptive imagery is admirably lean sometimes a tale s starkness certainly left this reader with a haunted, almost desperate feeling However, I never feel that Steinbeck is ever being wantonly bleak Above all, Steinbeck is telling us stories about human beings and of their relationships to others He lets us make our own inferences The scholars, critics and academics have it seems from the very start often been divided on their appraisal of these stories I m perfectly happy to let them go on arguing This collection is eminently readable and worthwhile. Several excellent stories, including the exceptional Johnny Bear. Steinbeck s great storytelling style shines in this early collection of his short stories. I have to re examine my own writing every time I read a Steinbeck novel My trite phrasing and flat descriptions look like ugly stepchildren next to his princely prose Even this slim volume of four, lesser known short stories is packed with some beautifully powerful writing The scenes are spare in their breadth, but not in their ability to reach into your heart and imagination HOLD THE PRESSES I just discovered that my copy was truncated The Long Valley originally came with than twice the number of stories I ve been abridginated I loath abridged books Well, it s not the books fault It s the publisher who s to blame Damn them to Hades Okay, looks like I have some reading to do before I can do a proper review. I m not a big fan of short stories, but the stories in this collection are as well crafted as Steinbeck s longer fiction The characters, settings and plots are authentic with the exception of a strange story about a pig, which I just didn t get The stories deal with among other things the aftermath of a lynching, suppressed dreams, a husband in a literal and figurative harness, a misguided and doomed view of manhood, a brutal crime of passion and a young boy just getting to know some of the harsher sides of life I particularly liked The White Quail, The Chrysanthemums, The Murder and The Red Pony I listened to the audio book, with excellent narration by Holter Graham, and also read the interesting annotations in the Penguin paperback version of the collection.