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Travels with Charley in Search of America by…

Travels with Charley in Search of America (original 1962; edition 1980)

by John Steinbeck

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5,654128755 (4.01)1 / 377
Title:Travels with Charley in Search of America
Authors:John Steinbeck
Info:Penguin Books (1980), Paperback, 288 pages
Collections:Your library
Tags:read in high school

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


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English (127)  Spanish (1)  All languages (128)
Showing 1-5 of 127 (next | show all)
I loved this. Such a colorful glimpse at a moment in history. The writing and observations would be stunning all by themselves, but the narration of Gary Sinise elevates this memoir another notch. Definitely one I will read again. I can identify with a man who can get lost in his own backyard and who names his vehicle Rocinante, after Don Quixote's horse. I liked that he traveled incognito and took the backroads when he could. That he sought out ordinary people in the midst of their daily routine. His America is not my America, but it still has the same ugliness, the same beauty. It reeks of possibility.

"In my flurry of nostalgic spite, I have done the Monterey Peninsula a disservice. It is a beautiful place, clean, well run, and progressive. The beaches are clean where once they festered with fish guts and flies. The canneries which once put up a sickening stench are gone, their places filled with restaurants, antique shops, and the like. They fish for tourists now, not pilchards, and that species they are not likely to wipe out. And Carmel, begun by starveling writers and unwanted painters, is now a community of the well-to-do and the retired. If Carmel's founders should return, they could not afford to live there, but it wouldn't go that far. They would be instantly picked up as suspicious characters and deported over the city line. The place of my origin had changed, and having gone away I had not changed with it. In my memory it stood as it once did and its outward appearance confused and angered me....Tom Wolfe was right. You can't go home again because home has ceased to exist except in the mothballs of memory." ( )
1 vote Crazymamie | Aug 18, 2016 |
This is less a travelogue in the way that most people do it, but an excuse for Steinbeck to engage in some fine writing.
The latter part of the book, which discusses Texas and the South, especially New Orleans, and his arrival back in NY,
is by far the best. He understands Texas and the inhabitants very well, and his description of a Thanksgiving spent there is great.
In the New Orleans segment, he attends a racist meeting where these battleaxes yell insults at a black girl trying to integrate a
school, and later meets two people who are emblematic of the South, a racist young man, and a gentle older person.
He has the right sensibility ( I agree with him ). He is right about California (it is just too crowded) and the midWest, which then was in the middle of their industrial might.
  annbury | Jun 24, 2016 |
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 |
Showing 1-5 of 127 (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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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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