lukas, December 8, 2013 (view all comments by lukas)
What's more American than a road trip? How about a road trip with your dog? Boom. A later Steinbeck book, this is one of his most beloved and least preachy. His novels can be undermined by polemics and clumsy writing, but this is among his easiest, most likable books, if you can get past the somewhat insufferable subtitle ("In Search of America").
Knowing he was dying, John Steinbeck customized a camper-truck and dubbed it Rocinante after Don Quixote's horse. With his dog Charley (Steinbeck's own Sancho Panza) riding along, the melancholic writer circumnavigates the country. This travelogue captures a 1960s America in the Nobel Prize-winning prose that has proven timeless.
by The New York Times Book Review,
"Pure delight, a pungent potpourri of places and people interspersed with bittersweet essays on everything from the emotional difficulties of growing old to the reasons why giant sequoias arouse such awe."
by The San Francisco Examiner,
"Profound, sympathetic, often angry...an honest, moving book by one of our great writers."
by The Atlantic Monthly,
"The eager, sensuous pages in which he writes about what he found and whom he encountered frame a picture of our human nature in the twentieth century which will not soon be surpassed."
With his dog Charley, John Steinbeck set out in his truck to explore and experience America in the 1960s. As he talked with all kinds of people, he sadly noted the passing of region speech, fell in love with Montana, and was appalled by racism in New Orleans.
To hear the speech of the real America, to smell the grass and the tress, 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 years.
With Charley, his French poodle, Steinbeck drives the interstates and the country roads, dines with truckers, encounters bears at Yellowstone and old friends in San Francisco. And he reflects on the American character, racial hostility, on a particular form of American loneliness he finds almost everywhere, and on the unexpected kindness of strangers that is also a very real part of our national identity.
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