Synopses & Reviews
In September 1960, John Steinbeck
and his poodle, Charley, embarked on a journey across America. A picaresque tale, this chronicle of their trip meanders through scenic backroads and speeds along anonymous superhighways, moving from small towns to growing cities to glorious wilderness oases. Travels with Charley in Search of America
is animated by Steinbeck’s attention to the specific details of the natural world and his sense of how the lives of people are intimately connected to the rhythms of natureto weather, geography, the cycle of the seasons. His keen ear for the transactions among people is evident, too, as he records the interests and obsessions that preoccupy the Americans he encounters along the way.
Travels with Charley in Search of America, originally published in 1962, provides an intimate and personal look at one of America’s most beloved writers in the later years of his lifea self-portrait of a man who never wrote an explicit autobiography. It was written during a time of upheaval and racial tension in the Southwhich Steinbeck witnessed firsthandand is a stunning evocation of America on the eve of a tumultuous decade.
“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.” The New York Times Book Review
“Profound, sympathetic, often angry . . . an honest moving book by one of our great writers.” The San Francisco Examiner
“This is superior Steinbecka muscular, evocative report of a journey of rediscovery.” John Barkham, Saturday Review Syndicate
“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.” Edward Weeks, The Atlantic Monthly
Steinbeck's tough yet charming portrait of people on the margins of society, dependant on one another for both physical and emotional survival
Published in 1945, Cannery Row focuses on the acceptance of life as it is: both the exuberance of community and the loneliness of the individual. Drawing on his memories of the real inhabitants of Monterey, California, including longtime friend Ed Ricketts, Steinbeck interweaves the stories of Doc, Dora, Mack and his boys, Lee Chong, and the other characters in this world where only the fittest survive, to create a novel that is at once one of his most humorous and poignant works. In her introduction, Susan Shillinglaw shows how the novel expresses, both in style and theme, much that is essentially Steinbeck: scientific detachment, empathy toward the lonely and depressed and, at the darkest level the terror of isolation and nothingness. "