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Travels with Charley: In Search of America…

Travels with Charley: In Search of America (1962)

by John Steinbeck

Other authors: Luciano Bianciardi (Translator), Luigi Sampietro (Editor)

Other authors: See the other authors section.

MembersReviewsPopularityAverage ratingConversations / Mentions
6,496155916 (4.02)1 / 429
Recently added byAndrew_Pearson, private library, laneseh, NoraQuinn57, DaveRees, Super_user, etinoco375, readergirliz
Legacy LibrariesJeffBuckley, Carl Sandburg
  1. 40
    The Lost Continent: Travels in Small-Town America by Bill Bryson (John_Vaughan)
  2. 20
    The Log from the Sea of Cortez by John Steinbeck (John_Vaughan)
  3. 11
    Tagebuch, später (edition suhrkamp) by Andrzej Stasiuk (Philosofiction)
  4. 00
    No Time to Spare: Thinking About What Matters by Ursula K. Le Guin (andomck)
    andomck: Non fiction from these novelists where their pets play a large role. Also, UKL has an essay in her book about knowing Steinbeck in real life
  5. 11
    Blue Highways: A Journey into America by William Least Heat-Moon (usnmm2)
  6. 11
    Coast to Coast by Jan Morris (John_Vaughan)
    John_Vaughan: Two authors with different backgrounds but both books filled with love of travel and America.
  7. 00
    Of Men and Their Making by John Steinbeck (Booksloth)

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English (154)  Spanish (1)  All languages (155)
Showing 1-5 of 154 (next | show all)
A rich old curmudgeon with a reputation of speaking for the common man realizes he has not been out amongst the hoi polloi in a while, so he sets out in a little camper with his poodle to rediscover the soul of America. Steinbeck strings together some sightseeing, rants, and colorful road trip characters into a mostly entertaining and often humorous travelogue.

Some of the sections seemed unlikely or too good to be true, so upon finishing the book, I was not surprised to find that researchers have found that Steinbeck fictionalized chunks of the book.

What did surprise me was how little things seemed to have changed in nearly 60 years as Steinbeck writes about a divisive political election, migrant workers, urban sprawl, the crazy reputation of Texas, and racism among other topics. ( )
  villemezbrown | May 16, 2019 |
This is the story of John Steinbeck (author of the book) and his travels across America for 3 months with his dog, Charley. He had decided he wanted to see America, so he bought a truck with a trailer on top that he could live in while on the road. He packed the essentials and headed off. He meets several people on the road - inviting them to dine with him or just sit and chat. He meets Americans from all walks of life while traveling the countryside. He deals with his dog getting sick, and constantly getting lost before he returns home to his wife with a renewed sense of America and its people.

I really enjoyed this book. At first, I have to admit, I was afraid I wasn't going to like it. Steinbeck talked very little about the actual scenery around him and the beautiful places he visited. He focused mostly on the people and what it was like to travel across the country. I thought at first this was odd, but then the writing too over, and I was hooked. He spoke beautiful about the people he met. He made me laugh with stories about his dog and how it was to travel with an animal for all of those months. In truth, I don't think Steinbeck was glad he went on this trip. I think, like most of us when we travel, have a delusion of what to expect when we go. And sometimes, the truth is not what we imagined, and it makes us wish we would have just stayed home. I think he met a lot of people across the country that upset him, and he missed his wife, and his dog got sick, and he was in a cramped space, and after awhile - it just wasn't what he was hoping for.

This book had quite a few great quotes (I am a sucker for quotes) that I wanted to write here so that I can look back and remember them.

"I was born lost, and take no pleasure in being found"

"I wonder why progress looks so much like destruction"

"A journey is like a marriage. The certain way to be wrong is to think you can control it"

"I suppose our capacity for self-delusion is boundless"

"The only good writer is a dead writer"

"Where the rich lead, the poor will follow. Or try to" ( )
  JenMat | Jan 10, 2019 |
penguin centenial ed
  JeremyOuterSpace | Nov 5, 2018 |
This is rather difficult book for me to review. For one, this is my second time reading it. The first time was back between my sophomore and junior years in high school, about five years after it was first published. Upon re-reading it, some things were easily brought back to mind while others seemed brand new. Regardless, I found myself thinking, "Wow, how things have changed," but also "Wow, how things have stayed the same." Observations about gentrification, urban blight, and the rest were every bit as true today as back then, despite Twitter, Uber, GPS and the like, that are so embedded in our American fabric today. On the other hand, sprinkled through out are many references to things long gone. At one point, there's an oh-so subtle reference to 1911-established Wildroot hair tonic, which I guess is still available today, but which I haven't seen advertised in decades. A second difficulty in reviewing this book is the fact that less than a decade ago a reporter discovered much of the book was made up, fiction, and the publisher basically admitted to that fact, while not admitting exactly to what degree that was true. The book itself shifts gear enough times that, even without knowing it's a fiction/non-fiction hybrid, the end result is uneven. On one extreme, the author has highly entertaining dialogue that hints strongly of fictional writing at its best, Nobel Prize in Literature best. At the other extreme, the author can meander into philosophical ramblings that barely make any sense. In between is the type of narrative I think most people expect from a travelogue, lucid, descriptive. His forays into fiction also seemed to come out especially with reports of getting lost in environments one would think would not overcome him at all, given where he lived in a major metropolitan area when he started out, and then later, he finds his way around without any trouble whatsoever. I would be very interested in the reaction a much younger person would have in reading this book. This re-reading by me was prompted by the book being on a list of books for a Books on Tap event sponsored by a public library and a local cidery. The librarian that shepherds that event was born well after this book was first published. While I think she, too, saw in the book many things, especially in the Deep South, were as true today in Trump America as in JFK 1960, and maybe that prompted her to add it to her events list, I will be asking her what she saw in it that she noticed had disappeared in the meantime. ( )
  larryerick | Nov 1, 2018 |
Showing 1-5 of 154 (next | show all)
Steinbeck’s book-length account of his journey, “Travels With Charley: In Search of America,” published in 1962, was generally well reviewed and became a best-seller. It remains in print, regarded by some as a classic of American travel writing. Almost from the beginning, though, a few readers pointed out that many of the conversations in the book had a stagey, wooden quality, not unlike the dialogue in Steinbeck’s fiction.

Early on in the book, for example, Steinbeck has a New England farmer talking in folksy terms about Nikita S. Khrushchev’s shoe-pounding (or -brandishing, depending on whom you ask) speech at the United Nations weeks before Khrushchev actually visited the United Nations. A particularly unlikely encounter occurs at a campsite near Alice, N.D., where a Shakespearean actor, mistaking Steinbeck for a fellow thespian, greets him with a sweeping bow, saying, “I see you are of the profession,” and then proceeds to talk about John Gielgud.

Even Steinbeck’s son John said he was convinced that his father never talked to many of the people he wrote about, and added, “He just sat in his camper and wrote all that [expletive].”

» Add other authors (79 possible)

Author nameRoleType of authorWork?Status
Steinbeck, Johnprimary authorall editionsconfirmed
Bianciardi, LucianoTranslatorsecondary authorall editionsconfirmed
Sampietro, LuigiEditorsecondary authorall editionsconfirmed
Herman, Rein F.Translatorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Parini, JayIntroductionsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Sinise, GaryNarratorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
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When I was very young and the urge to be someplace else was on me, I was assured by mature people that maturity would cure this itch.
No newspaper had printed the words these women shouted. It was indicated that they were indelicate, some even said obscene...But now I heard the words, bestial and filthy and degenerate. In a long and unprotected life I have seen and heard the vomitings of demoniac humans before. Why then did these screams fill me with a shocked and sickened sorrow?
For how can one know color in perpetual green, and what good is warmth without cold to give it sweetness?
When I was very young and the urge to be someplace else was on me, I was assured by mature people that maturity would cure this itch. When years described me as mature, the remedy prescribed was middle age. In middle age I was assured that greater age would calm my fever and now that I am fifty-eight perhaps senility will do the job. Nothing has worked.
Who has not known a journey to be over and dead before the traveler returns? The reverse is also true: many a trip continues long after movement in time and space have ceased.
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Amazon.com Product Description (ISBN 0142000701, Paperback)

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 nature—to 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 life—a self-portrait of a man who never wrote an explicit autobiography. It was written during a time of upheaval and racial tension in the South—which Steinbeck witnessed firsthand—and is a stunning evocation of America on the eve of a tumultuous decade.

(retrieved from Amazon Thu, 12 Mar 2015 18:08:50 -0400)

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Steinbeck records his emotions and experiences during a journey of rediscovery in his native land.

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Penguin Australia

An edition of this book was published by Penguin Australia.

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An edition of this book was published by HighBridge.

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