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

by John Steinbeck

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4,966None917 (4.01)1 / 316
Member:kristinevandusen
Title:Travels with Charley in Search of America
Authors:John Steinbeck
Info:Penguin Books (1980), Paperback, 288 pages
Collections:Your library
Rating:****
Tags:read in high school

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

1960s (26) 20th century (73) America (109) American (87) American literature (112) Americana (28) animals (25) autobiography (64) biography (62) classic (77) classics (69) dog (21) dogs (96) fiction (231) Folio Society (33) John Steinbeck (25) literature (100) memoir (267) non-fiction (353) novel (33) own (25) read (63) road trip (41) Steinbeck (66) to-read (58) travel (491) travel writing (28) travelogue (51) unread (33) USA (112)
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Showing 1-5 of 97 (next | show all)
Here is John Steinbeck at the apex of his fame as a writer (and not many years from his death), and his strongest desire is to anonymously wander the United States. Turns out this is entirely possible, probably because he was a writer and not a movie star. What follows is a travelogue of his encounters with mostly rural and small town folks, with whom he often shares coffee (and usually something stronger) while chatting about life in America. In between these visits, we are mostly inside Steinbeck's mind, or at least the part he is willing to share with us. The most poignant section details his impromptu (and admittedly microcosmic) field work on race issues in the South. Any true fan of Steinbeck will appreciate this book, for his prose is as smooth and golden as ever, and it provides neat insight into the man behind such great novels. ( )
  S.D. | Apr 4, 2014 |
Mr. Edwin J. Feulner, Presented By Ned w. Massee
  efeulner | Mar 28, 2014 |
In 1960, Steinbeck undertook a journey around America, in a custom made vechicle which we would describe as a camper van or RV these days and his dog Charley was along for the ride! He heads north to Maine initially and then west all the way to Washington state, south to California and then back across the states, through the South to New York. What a fantastic, fabulous trip that should be......but that doesn't always come across. By his own admission, he largely avoids the large cities, but he also seems to avoid the national parks and other places of interest. Instead the commentary focusses on the people he meets and also the larger issues of the recent history, which dominate his fictional works. So, for instance, in Washington he talks about mass migration and how the city of Seattle has changed dramatically since his last visit and that made me think of the themes in The Grapes of Wrath.
By Virginia, he is fed up of travelling and says the 'journey' has ended for him. From that point onwards, you get the sense that he is in a hurry to get home and is just driving, driving, driving. Anyone who has done a long trip in an RV can probably relate to that!
His relationship with Charley comes across very strongly and is lovely to read about, There are health worries for Charley along the way and a sense throughout that owner and dog are able to communicate with one another, 'ftt' being a well used phrase! The passage describing the approach to the giant redwoods, anticipating Charley's reaction and the disappointment at the actual reaction were very amusing. But the funniest part is the ending, when having driven all around the states, Steinbeck has to pull over in Manhatten rush hour traffic because he is lost!
Great read, slightly disappointing as a travelogue, but great as a memoir. ( )
1 vote Elainedav | Mar 28, 2014 |
In 1960, John Steinbeck decided to purchase a new truck, have a camper attached to it and travel around America with his 10-year old poodle, Charley. Along the way, he describes primarily landscapes and the people he meets, rather than cities and sightseeing.

It was really good. I loved his dog, Charley (“ftt”), and you could tell how much Steinbeck loves him. I was a bit surprised at how funny Steinbeck was, at times. I thought he had some pretty good one-liners and I laughed out loud a few times. It’s amazing some of his observations would still hold true today (the book was originally written in 1962). There was also a cute hand-drawn map in the edition I read, with little pictures to represent some of the things that happened along the way. I really enjoyed it. ( )
  LibraryCin | Feb 18, 2014 |
Heath and I listened to this together. He had never read it before and it was a re-read for me. I read it when I was in high school I think. I was more interested in Charlie than the rest of the adventure when I was a kid. I didn't remember the journey through Louisiana. A good reader and a very good book. ( )
  njcur | Feb 13, 2014 |
Showing 1-5 of 97 (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 (26 possible)

Author nameRoleType of authorWork?Status
Steinbeck, Johnprimary authorall editionsconfirmed
Parini, JayIntroductionsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Sinise, GaryNarratorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
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Dedication
This book is dedicated to
HAROLD GUINZBURG
with respect born of an association and
affection that just growed.
-JOHN STEINBECK
First words
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.
Quotations
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 Mon, 30 Sep 2013 13:28:28 -0400)

(see all 7 descriptions)

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

(summary from another edition)

» see all 9 descriptions

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