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

by John Steinbeck

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5,055101891 (4.02)1 / 324
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)

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A nice, meandering, tale of murrica. ( )
  abbeyhar | Jul 23, 2014 |
A nice, meandering, tale of murrica. ( )
  abbeyhar | Jul 23, 2014 |
A nice, meandering, tale of murrica. ( )
  abbeyhar | Jul 23, 2014 |
This has to be one of my favorite books I've ever read. I started this book right after I finished On the Road and Lolita, so it's clear to see that I've been on sort of a travel-book kick as of late.

First off, I think phrasing structure and general story telling arc were really approachable in this book. He could have made this very complex, as America is a complex being, but he made the whole story easy to read, without dumbing down the story in the least.

Secondly, the way he characterized Charley was spot-on. He made him a very large contributor in regards to story progression without over-complicating the emotions that Charley could evoke with his simple tail wag. The best example of this is when Steinbeck is feeling down in the dumps in the trailer and Steinbeck uses Charley's tail wags as a means of communication, which is shown to the reader as small phrases that Charley is saying.

All-in-all, this is will be one of my favorite books for a while, and is definitely something I would recommend to anyone that is a bit anxious of living where they are or just has a small itch to break their everyday routine. ( )
  michplunkett | Jul 14, 2014 |
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 |
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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)

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