The Best Parts of Sweet Thursday by John Steinbeck

“Do you like champagne?”
“I love it,” she said and wondered what it would taste like. And she did love it.

Isn’t overeating said to be one of the strongest symptoms of discontent? And isn’t discontent the lever of change?

Man owes something to man.

[The voice], which came from his marrow would be singing, “Lonesome! Lonesome! What good is it? Who benefits? Thought is the evasion of feeling. You’re only walling up the leaking loneliness.”

Charles Darwin and his Origin of Species flashed complete in one second, and he spent the rest of his life backing it up; and the theory of relativity occurred to Einstein in the tie it take to clap your hands. This is the greatest mystery of the human mind — the inductive leap. Everything falls into place, irrelevancies relate, dissonance becomes harmony, and nonsense wears a crown of meaning. But the clarifying leap springs from the rich soil of confusion.

“It’s a crime to be happy without equipment.”

“I seen it happen so many times,” said Mack. “you take a dame and she’s married to a guy that’s making twenty-five bucks a week. You can’t kill her with a meat ax. She’s got kids and does the washing — may get a little tired but that’s the worse that can happen to her. But let the guy get raise to seventy-five bucks a week and she begins to get colds and take vitamins.”

Doc found himself shouting, “I don’t want a wife. I have all the women I want!”
“Woman and women is two different things,” said Suzy. “Guy knows all about women he don’t know nothing about a woman.”

“The nicest thing in the world you can do for anybody is let them help you.”

“…remember a lot of things: first you got to remember you’re Suzy and you ain’t nobody else but Suzy. Then you got to remember that Suzy is a good thing — a real valuable thing — and there ain’t nothing like it in the world. It don’t do no harm just to say that to yourself. Then, when you got that, remember that there’s one hell of a lot Suzy don’t know. Only way she can find out is if she sees it, reads it, or asks it. Most people don’t look at nothing but themselves and that’s a rat race… Nobody don’t give a particular damn about Suzy one way or the other. It’s hard to get them thinking about you because they’re too busy thinking about themselves. When you got their attention, first thing they want is to do something for you. Let them. Dn’t get proud and say you don’t need it or want it. That’s a slap in the puss. Thing people like most in the world is to give you something and have you like it and need it.”

“Suzy noticed a waiter drifting delicately within earshot. She had discovered something for herself. When in doubt, move slowly. Her head turned toward the waiter and he drifted away. She was delighted with her discovery — everything-in-slow-motion. She then lifted her glass slowly, looked at it carefully, then sipped and held it a moment before she put it down. S-l-o-w-ness — it gave meaning to everything. It made everything royal.”

Fauna’s conviction, born out of long experience, that most people, one, did not know what they wanted; two, did not know how to go about getting it; and three, didn’t know when they had it.

You couldn’t win an argument with Fauna because she would agree with you and then go right on as she had planned.


wallager – party
“running her down” – speaking ill of her
pachucos – a particular subculture of Hispanic and Latino Americans associated with zoot suits, street gangs, nightlife, and flamboyant public behavior.
satyriasis – Excessive, often uncontrollable sexual desire in and behavior by a man.
badger game – an extortion scheme

11 thoughts on “The Best Parts of Sweet Thursday by John Steinbeck

  1. Doc found himself shouting, “I don’t want a wife. I have all the women I want!”
    “Woman and women is two different things,” said Suzy. “Guy knows all about women he don’t know nothing about a woman.”

    – best line of the whole book.


  2. Wow. I’m totally struck by this line: “The nicest thing in the world you can do for anybody is let them help you.”

    I’m going through some very personal stuff right now, and I’m not usually one to ask for help, but I know I can’t do what I need to do on my own, so this really rings true with me right now.

    Thanks for posting this!


  3. I found this at my library and it is a sequel to a previous book. Did you read both or just Sweet Thursday? It sounds like a story right up my alley, but I don’t want to miss something by not reading the first one first (which my library does *not* have).


  4. Sheri, I didn’t know it was a sequel. This was my second read of it, because I remembered loving it so much but didn’t remember much else about it. I say go for it. -M


  5. Sweet Thursday is the sequel to Canery Row. Equally good.

    If you go to Monterey, Canery row is till there. You can even see docs house, although only formthe outside.

    A third wonderful steinbeck novel set in the same geographic (Monterey) area, but with a completely different cast of characters is Tortilla Flat.

    My three favorite books.


  6. Sorry about all the typos in my previous comment.

    Apparently posting a comment from an iDevice while riding public transportation lowers one’s IQ by a minimum of 40 points.

    I thought it worth posting a follow up comment because, let’s face it… who takes literary recommendations from someone who sounds like they are writing in crayon? 🙂


  7. This sounds perfect, can’t wait to read it, though perhaps I should start with Cannery Row. First I need to finish the four books I’ve already started.


  8. Oh you can go to Doc’s house in Monterey. It’s kept up in its 1950s glory by a group of enthusiasts and they give tours once a year on Doc’s birthday in October. Steinbeck is one of my favorites and we drove down from SF one year to see it. The scene was a little strange but in a good way. We went to visit before I had heard of life lists, otherwise it is an activity that just may have ended up on mine.


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