Lindsay Hatton Revisits Cannery Row in New Novel

Cover image of Monterey Bay with author Lindsay Hatton

The main action of Monterey Bay, Lindsay Hatton’s debut novel, takes place in 1940, a big year for John Steinbeck, Ed Ricketts, and Monterey’s Cannery Row, where Hatton’s story is set. Waves churned up by the publication of The Grapes of Wrath in 1939 were swamping Steinbeck, who made his escape to the Sea of Cortez in the spring of 1940 with his friend Ed Ricketts, the marine biologist mythologized by Steinbeck’s 1945 novel Cannery Row. Hatton—who spent summers working at the Monterey Bay Aquarium on modern-day Cannery Row—leverages John Steinbeck’s predicament and Ed Ricketts’s reputation as a lover of women not his wife in her tale of an anti-ingenue’s coming of age among flawed men in an era less sexually prohibitive than our own. Other writers who have fictionalized events involving John Steinbeck, such as Steve Hauk, draw their characters exclusively from real life. Hatton—a resident of Cambridge, Massachusetts—mixes fantasy and reality to create Margot Fiske, a 15-year-old with chops and attitude who takes up with Ed Ricketts and clashes with John Steinbeck. Steinbeck employed a similar technique in his writing after Sea of Cortez (1941), notably Cannery Row and East of Eden. Readers didn’t seem to mind then, and they probably won’t now. Read a full review to learn more about Lindsay Hatton and Monterey Bay.

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  1. Great background on Steinbeck’s life and Rickett’s proclivities during the time when Hatton’s novel is set. In addition to the NPR review you cite, here’s another piece that addresses Margot’s “chops and attitude” (love the description) in the world of Steinbeck:

    I’d love to hear this community’s take on what Loofbourow identifies as Steinbeck’s “blind spot” as it pertains to creating “fully fleshed out, unpickled women.” Is it a valid criticism?

  2. Patricia Nolan Stein says:

    WOW…..I never thought Ed Ricketts would be featured in a contemporary novel.
    I love the Ed Ricketts character that Nick Nolte portrayed as “Doc” in the 1982 film version of Cannery Row.
    And “Sweet Thursday” is my very favorite novel. Doc (Ed) is so wonderful and amazing in that portrayal.
    Regardless, I look forward to reading “Monterey Bay.”

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