The stories in The Long Valley are sly. Their coloring may be Steinbeck through and through, but their tone is surprising. Sure, the men get down on their haunches and do some figgerin’ while the sun scars the black earth, but damnit! there’s humor in these stories! There’s suspense in these stories!
Many of the stories in The Long Valley, namely “The White Quail” and “The Snake,” coax us to expect a certain ending and yet, lurking on the last page or in the final paragraph, is a surprise or a subtle turn of phrase that drops the floor of your stomach real quick.