adam browning, August 4, 2012 (view all comments by adam browning)
I know Steinbeck from "The Grapes of Wrath" or "Of Mice and Men," not really happy books. But the author shows humor and playfulness as well as introspection in this story of his travels across the broad swath of America in "Travels with Charley." With the exception of a few references which do let you know the book was penned years ago, the book holds up very well. You might be traveling along with Steinbeck today as he meets fellow travelers, vividly describes the scenery, ponders our simelarities and differences, and shares it all with both us and his trusty poodle Charley. A short but excellent read.
Timothy W, September 20, 2011 (view all comments by Timothy W)
An enjoyable and overlooked little ditty by one of America's best writers. Riding Rocinante, his somewhat less than noble four wheeled steed, Steinbeck ventures out across the country in 1960. Much like Bukowski, Steinbeck does a fine job at blending fact and fiction into a seamless tale. Another parallel to Bukowski is that the best bits are the ones involving drinking. Although Steinbeck’s involve drinking with others as opposed to Bukowski's solitary benders.
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.
An intimate journey across America, as told by one of its most beloved writers
In September 1960, John Steinbeck embarked on a journey across America. He felt that he might have lost touch with the country, with its speech, the smell of its grass and trees, its color and quality of light, the pulse of its people. To reassure himself, he set out on a voyage of rediscovery of the American identity, accompanied by a distinguished French poodle named Charley; and riding in a three-quarter-ton pickup truck named Rocinante.
His course took him through almost forty states: northward from Long Island to Maine; through the Midwest to Chicago; onward by way of Minnesota, North Dakota, Montana (with which he fell in love), and Idaho to Seattle, south to San Francisco and his birthplace, Salinas; eastward through the Mojave, New Mexico, Arizona, to the vast hospitality of Texas, to New Orleans and a shocking drama of desegregation; finally, on the last leg, through Alabama, Virginia, Pennsylvania, and New Jersey to New York.
Travels with Charley in Search of America is an intimate look at one of America's most beloved writers in the later years of his life—a self-portrait of a man who never wrote an explicit autobiography. Written during a time of upheaval and racial tension in the South—which Steinbeck witnessed firsthand—Travels with Charley is a stunning evocation of America on the eve of a tumultuous decade. This Penguin Classics edition includes an introduction by Jay Parini.
Today, nearly forty years after his death, Nobel Prize winner John Steinbeck remains one of America?s greatest writers and cultural figures. Over the next year, his many works published as black-spine Penguin Classics for the first time and will feature eye-catching, newly commissioned art.
Penguin Classics is proud to present these seminal works to a new generation of readers?and to the many who revisit them again and again."
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