Steinbeck even talks about writers who can quickly take measure of a place: "I've always admired those reporters who can descend on an area, talk to key people, ask key questions, take samplings of opinions, and then set down an orderly report very like a road map. I feel that there are too many realities. What I set down here is true until someone else passes that way and rearranges the world in his own style. He even wrote about environmentalism and his concerns for how much waste America was producing, and he contemplated how the new cross-country interstate system would change the country.
The guy was prescient, I tell you. Some of my favorite parts were when Steinbeck tried to cross into Canada with his dog and ran into a bureaucratic snafu regarding Charley's vaccination paperwork very amusing ; a warm conversation he had with a family of immigrants while they shared a drink in his camper; and when he drove through a forest of massive Redwood trees out West.
They have the mystery of ferns that disappeared a million years ago into the coal of the carboniferous era. They carry their own light and shade. The vainest, most slap-happy and irreverent of men, in the presence of redwoods, goes under a spell of wonder and respect. He mentions how many families had started buying mobile homes so they can move more freely about, and how many others gazed at his camper and said they wished they could travel across the country.
I saw this look and heard this yearning everywhere in every state I visited. I even upgraded my original 4-star rating to 5, because of how gorgeous Steinbeck's writing was. I just wish I could give Charley a biscuit and a belly rub for being such a good traveling companion. View all 24 comments. Feb 25, Kim rated it really liked it Shelves: travel , audiobook. In , when John Steinbeck was 58 years old, ill with the heart disease which was to kill him eight years later and rather discontented with life, he decided to embark on a road trip around the United States in a fitted-out pick-up truck, accompanied by his standard French poodle, Charley.
This book is the result of that trip: part memoir, part travelogue, pa In , when John Steinbeck was 58 years old, ill with the heart disease which was to kill him eight years later and rather discontented with life, he decided to embark on a road trip around the United States in a fitted-out pick-up truck, accompanied by his standard French poodle, Charley.
This book is the result of that trip: part memoir, part travelogue, part philosophical treatise … and part fiction. In relation to this, the fact that Steinbeck preserved and then donated his manuscript indicates that he was not concerned that readers might discover that there was more or possibly less to the journey than appears in the book.
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Further, the narrative itself is full of disclaimers. Steinbeck does not claim that the book is a day-by-day, diary-style account of his journey. On some matters Steinbeck was ahead of his time. Other parts of the narrative are much more personal. Ruby, who had started at the school only a week or two before Steinbeck was in New Orleans, was escorted to school by federal marshalls.
Her ordeal is recorded in this painting by Norman Rockwell. Shortly after witnessing the behaviour of the cheerleaders, Steinbeck decided to cut his journey short and head straight back to New York City. The narrative gives the strong impression that the incident left him heart-sick and distressed. Steinbeck had become rather a cranky old man by the time he embarked on the journey, and was an even crankier old man by time he finished it. He was certainly no longer the novelist at the peak of his powers.
And there's Charley. Charley is wonderful.
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View all 26 comments. My father bought me this book when I was probably about eight years old, and I read it quickly and fell in love with it. One day now that I've thought of it, probably sooner than later I'll reread it, but for now I'm content believing I would still find it a good read. View all 12 comments. Sep 22, Jason Koivu rated it it was amazing Shelves: favorites. Goddamn it! I've driven coast to coast across the U.
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While other prominent authors, such as Kerouac and Thompson, were publishing their own, more heralded versions, I prefer Steinbeck's. It lacks the hedonism of the others and I love him for that. And furthermore, these journals often get offtrac Goddamn it! And furthermore, these journals often get offtrack, forgetting the road for some favored topic that the writer expounds upon until it becomes a journey of its own and the original path fades from memory.
Steinbeck veers off now and then, but it's always for a good cause and it never lasts too long. Here's a few of my personal favorite highlights from his trip: : Charley. Before I began I had no idea who this Charley was, but he's a lovable guy and he made the whole thing all the more enjoyable to read.
While Grapes of Wrath will go down as a lasting work of genius, it carries with it the weight of moral baggage and an oppressive sadness. Maybe Travels with Charley is not the same sort of classic literature masterpiece that will survive the ages, but I found it to be a pure joy to read from start to finish. View all 11 comments. Apr 27, J. Sutton rated it liked it. In Travels with Charley: In Search of America, John Steinbeck provides an entertaining and wry account of his observations as he road trips with his poodle in what essentially becomes his house on wheels, Rocinante. I'm a big fan of Steinbeck's work I really like what I see as his sympathetic treatment of quirky and damaged characters in novels like Cannery Row and Tortilla Flats.
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I also remember enjoying Travels with Charley at least the few chapters of it which I read while I was in high sc In Travels with Charley: In Search of America, John Steinbeck provides an entertaining and wry account of his observations as he road trips with his poodle in what essentially becomes his house on wheels, Rocinante. I also remember enjoying Travels with Charley at least the few chapters of it which I read while I was in high school.
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I did like Steinbeck's assessment of Americans as a people on the move, but I didn't see him building toward anything in this travelogue. I know that's the nature of travel writing, but I wanted more from Steinbeck.
When he climbs out of Rocinante and explores a new town, does he see characters from his novels? Does he see material for books? Or only this specific travelogue? I wasn't sure how he grew during this trip, just that he and Charley seemed to intuitively know when the journey was over. I guess I was looking for something that wasn't there.
View all 5 comments. Oct 27, K. Shelves: nobel , , travel , memoirs. He said that he would like to see this country on a personal level before he died as he made a good living writing about it. Considering his heart condition, such trip alone could have been disastrous to his health but he insisted.
He saw the wastefulness of the people. He got worried about excessive packaging that consumers liked.
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He noticed the ambiguity of culture brought about my mass media technologies. Advancement in technologies, though giving people instant gratification, could alienate members of the families from each other. He met people who could not be trusted even by giving the right direction. He met poor migrant potato pickers from Canada that reminded me of the Joads family in his opus, The Grapes of Wrath. He finally saw Niagara Falls that made him happy because finally we could say we saw it already.
He met unreasonable and illogical border authorities. He saw how people in different states differ on how they talk to one another and treat other people.
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For example, in New England people spoke very little and waited for him to come over while in Midwestern cities, people were more outgoing and did not hesitate approaching him. He got amazed on how fast the population grew in those states that he had visited before. When he visited Sauk Centre because he would like to see the birthplace of his favorite writer, Sinclair Lewis he got disheartened.
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