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Travels with Charley in Search of America:…

Travels with Charley in Search of America: (Centennial Edition) (original 1962; edition 2002)

by John Steinbeck

MembersReviewsPopularityAverage ratingConversations / Mentions
5,524126785 (4.02)1 / 357
Title:Travels with Charley in Search of America: (Centennial Edition)
Authors:John Steinbeck
Info:Penguin (Non-Classics) (2002), Paperback, 224 pages
Collections:Read in 2012, Read but unowned
Tags:READ 2012

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Travels with Charley: In Search of America by John Steinbeck (1962)


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English (125)  Spanish (1)  All languages (126)
Showing 1-5 of 125 (next | show all)
Steinbeck is one of my favorite writers and this, more than any other novel or work of his gets you right to who he is/was. I read this through the end of January; whilst trapped in a blizzard and reading two of Michael Lewis' travel stories (The New New Thing and Boomerang). Steinbeck's view of America then (1960) is still relevant and very true to America today. The trends he sees, notices, and talks about are the same, just further along the path he outlined them as going back then (55-56 years ago). His relations to other people and his dog (Charley) show the true personality of John Steinbeck and the person he was. His heartbreaking 'return' to his 'home' of California (the lower San Francisco area) and realizing like Wolfe says "You can't go back home" as well as then his travels through the South, especially New Orleans as they go through the turbulent times of desegregation and the civil rights provides a strong backbone to the end of his work. His 'return' journey (exit from the South to drive home) is completely glossed over, so no account of his time in Pennsylvania (as a Pennsylvanian that's disappointing). A very quick read that you find yourself done with before you know it and can contribute to how or why you're done. Of Mice and Men is one of my all-time favorite works and this just shows me how and why it is, love the portions when Steinbeck discusses writing/his thoughts on things like taking notes/losing notes, etc. A must read for any Steinbeck fan. ( )
  BenKline | Jan 31, 2016 |
This was an interesting concept considering it is Steinbeck. The results weren't as interesting or as insightful as I would have liked though it did hold my attention well and had some interesting ideas. ( )
  Jen.ODriscoll.Lemon | Jan 23, 2016 |
This was an interesting concept considering it is Steinbeck. The results weren't as interesting or as insightful as I would have liked though it did hold my attention well and had some interesting ideas. ( )
  Jen.ODriscoll.Lemon | Jan 23, 2016 |
I enjoyed this book very much. It was not my favorite of his, but I liked the intimacy of it. It was like sitting down and talking to him, and hearing his views on different issues that he encountered in the US in 1960 (which also made me feel kind of like I was time travelling!). ( )
  TerriS | Jan 17, 2016 |
Towards the end of his life, John Steinbeck set out on a journey to drive across the United States in an attempt to discover America. His only companion was a poodle named Charley. During his three month voyage, he learns a lot about America, the American people, and himself. This book is not meant to provide explicit details about the entire trip; its purpose is more to outline Steinbeck’s thoughts about the experiences that affected him the most.

I had high expectations from this book, and I was a little disappointed. The beginning and ending were very strong, but the middle just didn’t do much for me. Maybe it’s because Steinbeck took his journey nearly 50 years ago, but other than that, I’m not really sure what the problem was for me.

There were three parts that I absolutely loved, though. In the beginning of the book, Steinbeck spends some time reflecting on how much packaging we throw away. Not things that we actually use, but the packaging alone. This is such a huge waste. I recently moved and had to buy a lot of things for the house, and in my experience, Steinbeck is right. A box with two small table lamps in it was huge, and I remember the amount of styrofoam and plastic wrappings took up most of a garbage can. There was much more packaging than actual product in the box.

The second thing that I loved was when Steinbeck introduced Charley to the giant redwood trees in the Northwest. He imagined Charley’s delight at being able to pee on the biggest trees in existence and how he might become stuck up from the sheer magnitude of his experience. When he let Charley out of the truck by one of the trees, Charley didn’t even notice it because it didn’t look or smell like any tree he’d ever seen. Even when Steinbeck brought him over to it, Charley just had no interest in it at all, and Steinbeck was thoroughly disgusted that his dog didn’t appreciate his efforts. As a dog lover, I have to laugh at this.

The best part of the book by far, however, was the last few chapters when Steinbeck is traveling through the South. This was during the period when schools were being integrated, and one of the biggest news headlines at the time was how white women were protesting over a single African American girl going to a white school. Steinbeck made a point of seeing the protests one morning, and it had a profound affect on him. He noticed how many of the women protesting were not even married and therefore didn’t have children in the school. He also observed just how vulgar and obscene they were, not just to the African American girl, but also to the white parents who escorted their children to school.

I definitely see this as a book that can be read many times, and I would recommend it to anyone who is interested. ( )
  AmandaL. | Jan 16, 2016 |
Showing 1-5 of 125 (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 (23 possible)

Author nameRoleType of authorWork?Status
Steinbeck, Johnprimary authorall editionsconfirmed
Parini, JayIntroductionsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Sinise, GaryNarratorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
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affection that just growed.
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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.

(summary from another edition)

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