Of Mice and Men

Of Mice and Men is a 100 pages story from John Steinbeck. He was born in Salinas, educated in Stanford and worked as a transient worker at farms in California, near Soledad in the 1930's. American Heritage dictionary has a word for this farm worker: a bindle stiff meaning a migrant worker or hobo who carries his own bedroll.

Many years later , in 1962, Stenbeck won the Nobel prize.

Even before the word autistic was invented, the main character is Lennie, an autistic young man with a big soul and unable to care for himself. The only woman in the story, Curly's wife does not have a name. Everyone is very unhappy and thirsty for friendship and love. Everyone works hard, just to be lonelier and lonelier.

Sillicon Valley is an alter ego of the farm near Salinas River a few miles from Soldedad, that Stenbeck describes. We work hard. We came from all over the world. We have ideas, but few dare to hope. We work for large companies and small companies and start ups are fewer and fewer. We know the rule of the the game is today only. We are the bindle stiffs in a modern post-bubble Sillicon Valley.

The title of the story comes from a poem of Robert Burns:

The best laid schemes o' mice an' men
Gang aft agley,
An' lea'e us nought but grief an' pain
For promis'd joy.


The best laid schemes o' mice an' men, begin to go awry. This is the American dream from a powerful writer, who goes inside the souls, to see it better and describe it.

Life is much better than in the thirties. A friend, born in America , said he wants to move to South Carolina. Do you have any friends there? I asked. No, he said. In San Francisco, we do not have many friends either.

I love America. I love being here. I love my imaginary independence. I can not go back. I read Steinbeck, again and wonder who reads him any more, besides the high school students, who read him because they have to, not because they want to.

Steinbeck make me feel I am normal. California is and is not an infinite El Dorado, be it gold, movies, beaches, hippies or software. Illusory freedom has a price. The secret is to keep trying - not easy to do - even when the best laid schemes o' mice an' men, begin to go awry.
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