Travels with Charley: In Search of America PDF ✓

Travels with Charley: In Search of America [KINDLE] ❄ Travels with Charley: In Search of America By John Steinbeck – Natus-physiotherapy.co.uk A quest across America, from the northernmost tip of Maine to California s Monterey PeninsulaTo hear the speech of the real America, to smell the grass and the trees, to see the colors and the light t A quest Charley: In Epub Þ across America, from the northernmost tip of Maine to California s Monterey PeninsulaTo hear the speech of the real America, to smell the grass and the trees, to see the colors and the light these were John Steinbeck s goals as he set out, at the age of fifty eight, to rediscover the country he had been writing about for so many yearsWith Charley, his French poodle, Steinbeck drives the interstates and the country Travels with ePUB í roads, dines with truckers, encounters bears at Yellowstone and old friends in San Francisco Along the way he reflects on the American character, racial hostility, the particular form of American loneliness he finds almost everywhere, and the unexpected kindness of strangers.


10 thoughts on “Travels with Charley: In Search of America

  1. Jeffrey Keeten Jeffrey Keeten says:

    I saw in their eyes something I was to see over and over in every part of the nation a burning desire to go, to move, to get under way, anyplace, away from any HERE They spoke quietly of how they wanted to go someday, to move about, free and unanchored, not toward something but away from something I saw this look and heard this yearning everywhere in every states I visited Nearly every American hungers to move The steedRocinante John Steinbeck was not feeling very well before he dec I saw in their eyes something I was to see over and over in every part of the nation a burning desire to go, to move, to get under way, anyplace, away from any HERE They spoke quietly of how they wanted to go someday, to move about, free and unanchored, not toward something but away from something I saw this look and heard this yearning everywhere in every states I visited Nearly every American hungers to move The steedRocinante John Steinbeck was not feeling very well before he decided to take a trip across country It wasn t only physical, but also a general malaise about the condition of the country and his own place in it Early in the book he makes a statement that reveals exactly his state of mind The words betray a clairvoyance of a near future that would catch up with him in 1968I have always lived violently, drunk hugely, eaten too much or not at all, slept around the clock or missed two nights of sleeping, worked too hard and too long in glory, or slobbed for a time in utter laziness I ve lifted, pulled, chopped, climbed, made love with joy and taken my hangovers as a consequence, not as a punishment Okay, that is the life philosophy that he has tried to live by, but it is what he says next that shows that he is feeling the tight grip of his impending demiseMy wife married a man I saw no reason why she should inherit a baby I knew that ten or twelve thousand miles driving a truck, alone and unattended, over every kind of road, would be hard work, but to me it represented the antidote for the poison of the professional sick man And in my own life I am not willing to trade quality for quantity If this projected journey should prove too much then it was time to go anyway I see too many men delay their exits with a sickly, slow reluctance to leave the stage It s bad theater as well as bad living I am very fortunate in having a wife who likes being a woman, which means that she likes men, not elderly babies Although this last foundation for the journey was never discussed I am sure she understood itSteinbeck lighting up the coffin nails that would eventually kill him with the wife he had a hard time leaving behind.So he is on a heroic quest He even found the loyal steed to carry him from place to place He named her Rocinante after the horse in Don Quixote as if he d already decided before starting that for most of the journey he was going to be tilting at windmills Bill Steigerwald, former journalist, in 2010 decided to unravel the murky, twisting road of Steinbeck s trip by following in his tire tracks Instead of a GMC pickup, specially made with a deluxe cabin, Steigerwald took his Toyota Rav4 and slept in Walmart parking lots and used car lots His goal was to try to part the curtain of pure mythology and actually determine where and what Steinbeck did There are discrepancies There are holes in Steinbeck slets call it a taleso large that you could have driven Rocinante pulling the Empire State building through these gaps and still had clearance on both sides Bill Barich wrote in his bookLong Way Home On the Trail of Steinbeck s America Steinbeck was extremely depressed, in really bad health, and was discouraged by everyone from making the trip He was trying to recapture his youth, the spirit of the knight errant But at that point he was probably incapable of interviewing ordinary people He d become a celebrity and wasinterested in talking to Dag Hammarskjold and Adlai Stevenson So the thinking is, that instead of this solo trip where he has cut all ties to the comforts of his life and is out among the people pressing the flesh and writing down his observations of real America, that Travels with Charley is actually a tall tale The truth is, for most of the trip, he was in luxury hotels, motels, and only camping in Rocinante occasionally The writing, well crap, he is a novelist He was not spinning most of it out of whole cloth, but pretty close The original manuscript, I m told, has his wife Elaine as a companion through muchof the trip than what he admits in the book In the story he has her flying out to Chicago as an emergency care package dropping in to give solace to the weary traveler I do find it sweet how attached to his wife he is He had a hard time leaving her and I m sure at some point the decision was made that if this trip is going to be any kind of success at all that he needed the care and comfort of his wife along the way The book doesn t have the same ring to it as Travels with Charley and Elaine But let s talk about CharleyI took one companion on my journey an old French gentleman poodle known as Charley Actually his name is Charles le Chien He was born in Bercy on the outskirts of Paris and trained in France, and while he knows a little poodle English, he responds quickly only to commands in French Otherwise he has to translate, and that slows him down He is a very big poodle, of a color called bleu, and he is blue when he is clean Charley is a born diplomat He prefers negotiation to fighting, and properly so, since he is very bad at fightingCharles le Chien and the author.We learn that Charley has crooked front teeth that he makes a Ptth sound through whenever he requires Steinbeck s attention or as a form of general commentary on the state of affairs He mutters to himself when agitated and he does have a prostate issue on the trip that required emergency veterinarian help Unexpected he turns into a demon dog when he catches a whiff of bear in Yellowstone As Steinbeck refers to him as his suddenlyJekyll Headed DogHe proves to be a source of comfort to Steinbeck when the blues, which were never far away, would descend upon him A sad soul can kill you quicker, far quicker, than a germ The most depressing moment in the trip is when Steinbeck stops in New Orleans to go see the cheerleaders and to experience first hand the hatred that was blooming over desegregation of schoolsThese blowzy women with their little hats and their clippings hungered for attention They wanted to be admired They simpered in happy, almost innocent triumph when they were applauded Theirs was the demented cruelty of egocentric children, and somehow this made their insensate beastliness muchheartbreaking These were not mothers, not even women They were crazy actors playing to a crazy audience These were young, white working mothers who every day stood in front of the schools and screamed the mostbestial and filthy and degeneratewords at little black girls trying to go to school Ruby Bridges, one of four little black girls that had to be escorted to school by U.S Marshalls.Most white parents pulled their kids out of the schools, but those brave souls that tried to take their kids to school were met with the same vile language and threats Soon the black girls were the only ones in the two schools It makes me nauseous every time I see footage from this event One of my favorite parts of the book was Steinbeck s time among the RedwoodsThe redwoods, once seen, leave a mark or create a vision that stays with you always No one has ever successfully painted or photographed a redwood tree The feeling they produce is not transferable From them comes silence and awe It s not only their unbelievable stature, nor the color which seems to shift and vary under your eyes, no, they are not like any trees we know, they are ambassadors from another timeIf you have never seen them make sure that on any trip to California that you take the time to go walk among giants These trees are over a thousand years old and over 95% of the original old growth have been logged for their excellent timber They are the oldest living things on the planet How baffling it must be to entities, that are time capsules of the activities of the planet, to find themselves being destroyed by these ants on the surface of the earth who with bits of sharp steel can wipe out a 1,000 years of life within moments It shakes the soul to contemplate So let us believe that most of this book is fabrication, that Steinbeck poured himself a cup of coffee liberally laced with Applejack and typed up a series of events that never quite happened He could throw in a few observations about an America that he didn t have to stray far from home to determineAmerican cities are like badger holes, ringed with trash all of them surrounded by piles of wrecked and rusting automobiles, and almost smothered in rubbish Everything we use comes in boxes, cartons, bins, the so called packaging we love so much The mountain of things we throw away are much greater than the things we use He could disguise his guile with such pithy remarks asI cannot commend this account as an America that you will find So much there is to see, but our morning eyes describe a different world than do our afternoon eyes, and surely our wearied evening eyes can report only a weary evening world I ve taken trips with people that when we arrive back home you would think from comparing their memories to mine that we went to the same place, but possibly in a parallel universe I feel the same way sometimes when I read a review of a person who read a book I liked I feel as if we had read two different books It is because we did My view of life is different from everyone else s and so is yours We have different experiences We bring those experiences to traveling, to reading, to conversations, and the whole kaleidoscope of it all colors our memories Regardless of the level of truth that this book represents I was able to spend 246 pages with the man John Steinbeck No biographer can ignore the personal philosophies that sprinkle the pages of this book This is a weary soul that still occasionally finds moments of brightness He is not a note taker, because he confessed he generally loses them anyway He lets what he sees percolate through the stratosphere to the core of his brain until the purest of thoughts lands on his tongue Some of his observations were gems, some feel wooden and maybe needed the deft touch of a healthier man I took his journey, maybe not the physical one he presents, but the journey of the mind of a writer trying to share a few last thoughts with the readers he felt destined to lose.If you wish to seeof my most recent book and movie reviews, visit also have a Facebook blogger page at


  2. karen karen says:

    dude, steinbeck is so much better than kerouac.and i know that is a totally obvious statement, but if i want to read a story about a man traveling across america and describing his findings, it is going to be a man with a varied vocabulary, a keen eye for detail, and some powers of interpreting his experiences john, i am listeningthis is my first nonfiction from steinbeck, and i am impressed with how conversational it reads he has a real skill in making his experiences near visible to the r dude, steinbeck is so much better than kerouac.and i know that is a totally obvious statement, but if i want to read a story about a man traveling across america and describing his findings, it is going to be a man with a varied vocabulary, a keen eye for detail, and some powers of interpreting his experiences john, i am listeningthis is my first nonfiction from steinbeck, and i am impressed with how conversational it reads he has a real skill in making his experiences near visible to the reader,in both his physical descriptions and his musings about what an american is i feel like he would be a fantastic road trip companion, and i envy charley.and that is another thing when it comes to dogs, i am completely breed ist there are dogs that i love, and then there are dogs i think should be banned from breeding, so i don t have to see them ever again poodles are among these breeds they are the silliest of all dogs, and how a man s man like steinbeck could travel across the country with one of them baffles me this is not a dog, it is an aberration but, for steinbeck s sake, i can read about a poodle for a little while, and it is sweet how they bond with each other but i still think they are ugly and not real dogs.steinbeck misses out on an investment opportunity if i were a good businessman, and cared a tittle for my unborn great grandchildren, which i do not, i would gather all the junk and the wrecked automobiles, comb the city dumps, and pile these gleanings in mountains and spray the whole thing with that stuff the navy uses to mothball ships at the end of a hundred years my descendants would be permitted to open this treasure trove and would be the antique kings of the world if the battered, cracked, and broken stuff our ancestors tried to get rid of now brings so much money, think what a 1954 oldsmobile, or a 1960 toastmaster will bring and a vintage waring mixer lord, the possibilities are endless things we have to pay to have hauled away could bring fortunes.of course he is being facetious here, but i for one would kill for some vintage appliances in another life in a better apartment i would have a fantastic kitchen filled with these old timey kitchen things, and i curse steinbeck for not giving a tittle.steinbeck does not get sucked into revisionist nostalgia even while i protest the assembly line production of our food, our songs, our language, and eventually our souls, i know that it was a rare home that baked good bread in the old days mother s cooking was with rare exceptions poor, that good unpasteurized milk touched only by flies and bits of manure crawled with bacteria, the healthy old time life was riddled with aches, sudden death from unknown causes, and that sweet local speech i mourn was the child of illiteracy and ignorance it is the nature of a man as he grows older, a small bridge in time, to protest against change, particularly change for the better but it is true that we have exchanged corpulence for starvation, and either one will kill us. i am so glad my real world book club finally chose something i can review on here instead of just a short story or an essay or a poemand this time, i will have something to add they are all european intellectual types, with their tales of berlin and ukraine and their war stories as both witness and participant and i just sit there and drink my wine and play the role of very good young listener thank you, steinbeck for giving america some street cred and fodder for booktalks come to my blog


  3. Lori Lori says:

    I usually enjoy fiction, but a mite cheated when I learn that a travelogue isn t I m sure some people enjoy the writing regardless of the misleading content Steinbeck never went to some of the places in the book, he made up the folks that he never met and the hotels and resorts he and his wife stayed in are a bitluxurious than the camper top on his GMC pick up On the plus side, he did purchase a pick up truck and add a camper top to it His wife did have a poodle named Charley.


  4. Elyse Walters Elyse Walters says:

    Audiobook narrated by the wonderful Gary SiniseWow Okay. I am fully satisfied This book calmed the anxiousness of my mind, and really moved me While listening to Gary Sinise read John Steinbeck s book Gary s voice was a perfect match for Steinbeck , I was aware of how grateful this book companion , was warming my heart thanks to our Public library overdrive.It was just what I needed Steinbeck s cross country road trip companion his loyal French immigrant poodle was Audiobook narrated by the wonderful Gary SiniseWow Okay. I am fully satisfied This book calmed the anxiousness of my mind, and really moved me While listening to Gary Sinise read John Steinbeck s book Gary s voice was a perfect match for Steinbeck , I was aware of how grateful this book companion , was warming my heart thanks to our Public library overdrive.It was just what I needed Steinbeck s cross country road trip companion his loyal French immigrant poodle was named Charley.Steinbeck Charley set out to reconnect with people from all walks of life in America.during the 1960 s Steinbeck never used his real name so he could be an ordinary old chum without any aw concerns to deal with Given Steinbeck wrote many books about America he was ready to exploreintimately What better way to experience the country than with a faithful dog and a reliable working RV Honestly traveling in an RV has never been my desire but with days like these it s sounds rather nice Also, having visited the Steinbeck museum and his house, in Salinas several times, I can easily visualize the truck, photos, and paraphernalia displays from his journey adventures It s been 4 weeks of house bound for those of us living in the SFBay area longer and short times for others across the globe due to the social distancing coronavirus lifestyle , and a Nationwide road trip touched on the freedom than I can almost remember I was happy to travel with Steinbeck on his adventures across America and dream a little myself What was so fascinating to me was reading about this great author s awareness of needing to replenish his own America appreciation tank I mean isn t that something many of us American s are itching to do ourselves these days Refill our American appreciation tanks Steinbeck was one of the greatest American authors His writing was masterful and eloquent Travels With Charley in Search of America crossing state lineswas absolutely witty wonderful fabulous descriptions imagery from New York to California and back againunforgettable charming funny and grumping characters The dialogue was hilarious at times It was also heartbreaking when faced with racial issues in the South While hibernating here at home in my own little world during these tempestuous and down right scary unsettling times, I was reminded that we are UNITED states Steinbeck said it clearly I admire all nations and hate all governments


  5. Matthew Matthew says:

    4 to 4.5 starsIt seems like lately I have been reading a lot of books about road trips This is just fine with me as I love the open road Getting some perspective on others experiences on the highway combines road trips with my other favorite hobbyreading, of course Travels With Charlie is mid 20th century America in the words of one of the most American authors that ever was Just a truck, a dog, and the open road It is poetic and beautiful It is dark and mysterious It funny and inf 4 to 4.5 starsIt seems like lately I have been reading a lot of books about road trips This is just fine with me as I love the open road Getting some perspective on others experiences on the highway combines road trips with my other favorite hobbyreading, of course Travels With Charlie is mid 20th century America in the words of one of the most American authors that ever was Just a truck, a dog, and the open road It is poetic and beautiful It is dark and mysterious It funny and infuriating Don t go in expecting a smooth ride, because 1960s America was full of pot holes and speed traps Steinbeck is viewing post WWII America before new technology takes over and shrinks the country down When each region still each had a strong unique mystique of their own Where prejudices still ran high in some places if you were not a local or not the right color and, yes, I know this is still an issue today, but what Steinbeck describes is extreme And when vending machines at rest stops could still blow Steinbeck s mind as the most cutting edge retail technology He pulls no punches when it comes to telling the reader how much he loved or loathed his experiences Because of this, some people may have a hard time reading this without getting upset.I think works like this are so important We have plenty of books preserving information on major historical events, but day to day life needs it s time in the sun as well To be able to read something like this about life in my country around the time my parents were teenagers has the potential to impact me a lotthan learning about the major news events of the time period I am not sure how much an impact this book might have on non Americans, but I think everyone who grew up in the United States will be captivated


  6. Will Byrnes Will Byrnes says:

    John Steinbeck put a house on a pickup, left the wife behind in their Long Island home and traveled the nation for several months This is his tale of that experience I found many quotables here, and I guess one should expect that when the traveler s name is Steinbeck In a book of about two hundred pages, one can hardly expect a detailed look at all of America Steinbeck picks his spots Sometimes they work, sometimes not It was, of necessity, merely a sketch of some parts of the country But John Steinbeck put a house on a pickup, left the wife behind in their Long Island home and traveled the nation for several months This is his tale of that experience I found many quotables here, and I guess one should expect that when the traveler s name is Steinbeck In a book of about two hundred pages, one can hardly expect a detailed look at all of America Steinbeck picks his spots Sometimes they work, sometimes not It was, of necessity, merely a sketch of some parts of the country But some of those sketches should hang in the Louvres Two in particular grabbed me His description of The Cheerleaders, a group of women who gathered every day at a newly integrated southern elementary school to taunt and threaten the black kids and Steinbeck s look at the culture surrounding that was chilling, a close portrait of an incendiary place at an incendiary time, and is, alone, a reason to read this book The other was his depiction of a redwood forest in northern California, where the massive trees alter dawn and blot out the night sky Steinbeck and Charley from the NY TimesThe subtitle of the book is In Search of America What travel books are really about, particularly when undertaken by a literary person, is self discovery It works the same as in literature The road, the quest, the journey all exist in an interior landscape and lead to an inner destination I did not feel that this was much at work here, and was disappointed Steinbeck kept his eyes on the external road Sometimes his snapshots of early 1960s America were uninteresting Sometimes they were compelling The compelling parts made the trip one worth taking EXTRA STUFFApparently, there is some thought that not all the material in this book was actuallyumreal GR friend Jim sent along a link to a site by a guy named Bill Steigerwald, who writes about Steinbeck Looks like he did a fair bit of research and concluded that Steinbeck s journey may have beenof an internal one than we believed check it out


  7. Diane Diane says:

    I first read this book in high school, and it s what made me fall in love with travelogues In 1960, John Steinbeck drove a small camper around the United States with his dog, Charley He wrote that he wanted to get to know his country again, to learnabout this new America For many years I have traveled in many parts of the world In America I live in New York, or dip into Chicago, or San Francisco But New York is noAmerica than Paris is France or London is England Thus I disco I first read this book in high school, and it s what made me fall in love with travelogues In 1960, John Steinbeck drove a small camper around the United States with his dog, Charley He wrote that he wanted to get to know his country again, to learnabout this new America For many years I have traveled in many parts of the world In America I live in New York, or dip into Chicago, or San Francisco But New York is noAmerica than Paris is France or London is England Thus I discovered that I did not know my own country I, an American writer, writing about America, was working from memory, and the memory is at best a faulty, warpy reservoir I had not heard the speech of America, smelled the grass and trees and sewage, seen its hills and water, its color and quality of light I knew the changes only from books and newspapers Butthan this, I had not felt the country for twenty five years In short, I was writing of something I did not know about, and it seems to me that in a so called writer this is criminal My memories were distorted by twenty five intervening years Travels with Charley was published in 1962, and Steinbeck, who had been in poor health, died just six years later.I remember loving this book I loved Steinbeck s stories about the people he met and the places he visited, and even the details of how he organized the camper and his trip I have recommended this book to countless friends over the years, gushing about how good it was.So you can imagine my UTTER HEARTBREAK because I found out that parts of the story were fabricated or fictionalized Reporters have verified that some details in the narrative could not have been true, and that Steinbeck made up a lot of the conversations he supposedly had with people along the road This news first broke in 2011, but I didn t learn it until I saw it mentioned in John Waters book about hitchhiking, Carsick When the 50th anniversary edition of Travels with Charley was published in 2012, it came with a disclaimer Indeed, it would be a mistake to take this travelogue too literally, as Steinbeck was at heart a novelist, and he added countless touches changing the sequence of events, elaborating on scenes, inventing dialogue that one associateswith fiction than nonfiction So here is my conundrum Knowing that parts of it have been fictionalized, should I continue to recommend it to others If the book is as good as I remember, doesn t that outweigh its dubious origin Or I could just live in denial and remember the joy I felt when I first read it.Update June 2014 I was so upset to learn that Steinbeck had embellished his stories that I decided to reread the book to see how it holds up It was great It was glorious I will even say that I think it s one of the best travelogues written about America, ever Travels with Charley is beautifully written it is so quotable and insightful that I had dozens of pages marked It would be pleasant to be able to say of my travels with Charley, I went out to find the truth about my country and I found it And then it would be such a simple matter to set down my findings and lean back comfortably with a fine sense of having discovered truths and taught them to my readers I wish it were that easy This monster of a land, this mightiest of nations, this spawn of the future, turns out to be the macrocosm of microcosm me If an Englishman or a Frenchman or an Italian should travel my route, see what I saw, hear what I heard, their stored pictures would be not only different from mine but equally different from one another If other Americans reading this account should feel it true, that agreement would only mean that we are alike in our Americanness For all of our enormous geographic range, for all of our sectionalism, for all of our interwoven breeds drawn from every part of the ethnic world, we are a nation, a new breed Americans are muchAmerican than they are Northerns, Southerners, Westerners, or Easterners The American identity is an exact and provable thing Because it had been criticized by modern reporters, on this reread I paidattention to Steinbecks conversations with folks around the country, and yes, the dialogue was so smooth and concise that it had to have been finessed But after considering the issue, I ve relaxed on this point because I bet every writer does that Every writer is going to streamline speech so that it reads well 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 envy this technique and at the same time do not trust it as a mirror of reality 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 I do think Steinbeck got at the spirit of what was going on in America in 1960 it was a big election year between Kennedy and Nixon racial tensions were high in the South because schools had been desegregated and there was heightened anxiety about Russia and the threat of the atomic bomb 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 The redwoods, once seen, leave a mark or create a vision that stays with you always No one has ever successfully painted or photographed a redwood tree The feeling they produce is not transferable From them comes silence and awe It s not only their unbelievable stature, nor the color which seems to shift and vary under your eyes, no, they are not like any trees we know, they are ambassadors from another time 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 Another theme Steinbeck returns to often is the wanderlust that seems to pervade Americans everywhere He mentions how many families had started buying mobile homes so they can movefreely about, and how many others gazed at his camper and said they wished they could travel across the country I saw in their eyes something I was to see over and over in every part of the nation a burning desire to go, to move, to get under way, anyplace, away from any Here They spoke quietly of how they wanted to go someday, to move about, free and unanchored, not toward something but away from something I saw this look and heard this yearning everywhere in every state I visited Nearly every American hungers to move I so enjoyed rereading this book that I will definitely continue to recommend it to friends 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


  8. Kim Kim says:

    In 1960, 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 Steinbeck s plan was to re connect with the America which had informed his fiction and to assess how much it had changed over the years This book is the result of that trip part memoir, part travelogue, pa In 1960, 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 Steinbeck s plan was to re connect with the America which had informed his fiction and to assess how much it had changed over the years This book is the result of that trip part memoir, part travelogue, part philosophical treatise and part fiction Just how much of the narrative is fiction rather than fact has been the subject of investigation and discussion in recent years, much of it instigated by the work of journalist Bill Steigerwald, who recreated Steinbeck s trip and exposed what he argues to be the fallacies in the narrative This article in the New York Times summarises Steigerwald s findings and typing Steigerwald s name into any reliable search engine will locate a range of Steigerwald s writings on the issue, as well as some responses to his position on the book While I ve read Steigerwald s conclusions about Steinbeck s journey with interest, it matters little to me that the work has been edited in such a way as to make it look like Steinbeck and Charley were travelling alone almost all the time, whereas Steinbeck s original manuscript held at the Morgan Library Museum in New York City shows that Steinbeck s wife Elaine was with him for much of the time and that he probably spentthan half the nights he was away sleeping in hotels rather than in the truck Likewise, it matters little to me that Steinbeck s reported conversations with people he meets on the way are fiction rather than reportage 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 wasor possibly less to the journey than appears in the book 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 Rather, what he conveys is a range of impressions on a number of topics, some insights into issues he considered important and some at times painful self reflection, all conveyed in Steinbeck s powerful yet accessible prose On some matters Steinbeck was ahead of his time For example, what he wrote about the destruction of the environment and the overuse of packaging products The mountain of things we throw away are much greater than the things we use , expressed what I doubt was a matter of widespread public concern as early as 1960 Other parts of the narrative are muchpersonal Steinbeck s encounter with old Latino drinking buddies in a bar in Monterey is particularly poignant As Steinbeck s friend tries to persuade the New York resident to come home , Steinbeck names all of their friends who have died and concludes that Thomas Wolfe was right You can t go home again because home has ceased to exist except in the mothballs of memory Possibly the most powerful incident in the book is Steinbeck s witnessing of the cheerleaders in New Orleans a group of women who stood across the street from William Frantz Elementary school and yelled obscenities at Ruby Bridges the first black child to attend the all white school and at the few white parents who did not comply with the white boycott of the school 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 Overall, whatever may be this book s shortcomings as a piece of travel reportage, it s a moving and engaging piece of writing 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 But there s still passion, warmth and humour in his words and plenty for the reader who loves Steinbeck s writing to engage with And there s Charley Charley is wonderful


  9. Cheri Cheri says:

    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.


  10. Jason Koivu Jason Koivu says:

    Goddamn it I ve driven coast to coast across the U.S fives times already and yet, thanks to Travels with Charley I m ready to go again During the mid century period, discovering America and or oneself through the medium of the road trip came into vogue While other prominent authors, such as Kerouac and Thompson, were publishing their own,heralded versions, I prefer Steinbeck s It lacks the hedonism of the others and I love him for that And further, these journals often get offtrac Goddamn it I ve driven coast to coast across the U.S fives times already and yet, thanks to Travels with Charley I m ready to go again During the mid century period, discovering America and or oneself through the medium of the road trip came into vogue While other prominent authors, such as Kerouac and Thompson, were publishing their own,heralded versions, I prefer Steinbeck s It lacks the hedonism of the others and I love him for that And further, 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 theenjoyable to read o I love Steinbeck s super sleuthing in the Chicago hotel room, where he adeptly pieces together a clandestine romance in a way that would impress Sherlock Holmes The book gets extra marks for a visit, description and kind words for Deer Isle, Maine, where from my grandmother s kin hail O Discovering that what I thought were imagined characters outrageously colorful characters from his novel Tortilla Flat were actually real people.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


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