I read a lot of "travel" books, and it's been said that you always learn more about the author when you read a travel book than you do about travel - and so it is with this little gem! John Steinbeck makes himself transparent through this log, and he proves to be a right likeable guy. I sure would have traded places with Charley. A nice mix of people, life philosophy, places and enough politics and culture to make it a pleasurable read.
Another very "human " book by Steinbeck. covers his trip around the US 40 years ago ( 196?). It was interesting to remember that time ( i'm over 65) and to compare it with the current dejected outlook pervading this Country compared to then when things were?????????
This book will make you think. Steinbeck packs up his dog, Charley, and together they set out from NY to CA "in search of America". He's very introspective of his own life and of his fellow Americans as he journeys along local roads, avoiding freeways if at all possible, because he feels he will miss too much of the local life otherwise. He connects with the locals, and as the book progresses, seems to understand himself more. While he's very detailed, it's not at all boring. Definitely one to read.
Most enjoyable travelogue telling the story of Steinbeck's 1960 trip with his dog, Charley, in a camper on a pickup truck named Rocinante, after the horse of Don Quixote, to rediscover America. I've been meaning to read this for several years and happened upon a used paperback copy at a local thrift store. This copy was obviously a high school student's who had been assigned to read this in school. It was a copy from 1966 full of underlines and notes -- I seem to recall that my older sister read this as a school assignment about that same time. Steinbeck is one of my favorite authors and I would place this narrative near the top of his works (after Grapes of Wrath and East of Eden). Steinbeck took this trip to see for himself what America was like at that time and how it had changed from his earlier years. The book is full of wonderful descriptions of different locations and observations of people and places. The trip took about 3 months and Steinbeck had to deal with some issues related to his truck including a blowout in the middle of nowhere, issues with his sick dog, and some confrontations with people although overall he found most Americans to be friendly and individuals.
Along the way, he revisited his boyhood home of Salinas, California, and pretty much agreed with Thomas Wolfe, that "you can't go home again." He states you can't go home again because home has ceased to exist except in the mothballs of memory. When I went away, I had died in my friends' memory. My return caused only confusion and uneasiness. Having recently returned to my home in Utah after being gone for over 25 years, I can definitely relate to Steinbeck's sentiments. Home is not like it was in my memories.
Towards the end of Steinbeck's travels, he goes through the deep South and witnesses some of the demonstrations and rioting relating to trying to desegregate the schools. This was in 1960 during the early strife of the Civil Rights movement in the South. Steinbeck was appalled by what he saw and the attitudes towards African-Americans. I believe this really left a bitter taste in his mouth and his journey ended shortly after that even though he wasn't quite back to his home in New York.
Overall, I would highly recommend this book to anyone who wants a glimpse into the America of the 1960s.
Steinbeck and his dog, Charley, traveled across the country in the early 1960's. Reading of his adventures is a little like looking at photographs from that time. Because of that, the book can seem a little dated. However, as one experiences North Dakota, Yellowstone, and the redwoods of California with Steinbeck and Charley, the photos seem to come alive. When Steinbeck gets to Texas and the Deep South his insights into time and place are truly eye opening.
Love this book! The first-person experience is a snapshot of one man's perspective of what America was like 50 years ago. Steinbeck takes his dog and Rosinante for a trip around America to find out what it is like today. Funny thing is, this trip could be taken today and some of the same themes would still be issues...some truths never change. Of course, I didn't agree with every point he raised, but tis o.k. I was just along for the ride on his trip. Things can be different when I take mine!
John Steinbeck sets off on a journey across America with his "gentleman poodle", Charley. The result is a telling journey in space and time. But I do not find Steinbeck's joys and disappointments too different from today's - we continue to struggle with sprawl and the disappearance of our regional cultures. Steinbeck finds much to celebrate in America and its people, and this is also true today. This book is a very thoughtful and pleasant read.
I really, really enjoyed this book. Sort of a diary of an older Steinbeck searching for what America is, a la middle aged Kerouac. It was well written and engaging. Small book that packs a lot of entertainment. Check it out.
I skimmed the introduction after I finished the book, and I was supposed to see lots of themes and parallels and so forth.
I didn't, but there was a lot of reason and listening in the book. With a sort of Mark Twain casual observation and humor, Steinbeck captured a really valuable picture of several parts of America in the fall of 1960, a watershed moment in history.
Steinbeck spends time listening to people who disagree with him, or just learning about issues on which he has no position. He and an anonymous philosopher he meet bemoan that the country is changing to becoming feelers and shouters and not thinkers. Oh, John. If you only knew.
An intimate journey across America, as told by one of its most beloved writers
To 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 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. 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.