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Travels with Charley in Search of America (Penguin Twentieth-Century Classics) Paperback – April 1, 1997
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“Pure delight, a pungent potpourri of places and people interspersed with bittersweet essays on everything from the emotional difficulties of growing old to the reasons why giant sequoias arouse such awe.” The New York Times Book Review
“Profound, sympathetic, often angry . . . an honest moving book by one of our great writers.” The San Francisco Examiner
“This is superior Steinbecka muscular, evocative report of a journey of rediscovery.” John Barkham, Saturday Review Syndicate
“The eager, sensuous pages in which he writes about what he found and whom he encountered frame a picture of our human nature in the twentieth century which will not soon be surpassed.” Edward Weeks, The Atlantic Monthly
From the Back Cover
In September 1960, John Steinbeck and his poodle, Charley, embarked on a journey across America. A picaresque tale, this chronicle of their trip meanders along scenic backroads and speeds along anonymous superhighways, moving from small towns to growing cities to glorious wilderness oases. Travels with Charley 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 cycles 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.
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First, I am no self-proclaimed book reviewer, like a lot claim to be. I am just an avid reader that has particular tastes. Steinbeck is one of my all-time favorite writers and "Travels With Charley" did not dissappoint. What I was left with is wanting more, though!
"Travels with Charley" is a story about Steinbeck's trip around the country with his dog, Charley. Steinbeck does a wonderful job of detailing the trip to include his thoughts on the people in various areas of the country, how the country has changed since the technological revolution...and what Charley thinks about the whole deal.
This book began with a foreword that eventually was so tedious that I had to ignore it. If there's one thing I cannot stand with a lot of these classics is a foreword from some "alleged professional" explain what the book is all about. I say, "Let me read it first and make my own judgements!". And I don't appreciate forewords that give away the story (especially in their perspective) before I have a chance to read it.
After skipping the long-winded foreword, I read the book and had trouble putting it down. Steinbecks use of the English language is incredible and he can really paint a picture in this reader's mind. With that said, I felt the story should have told so much more. It seemed as though many states visited were never discussed, which I would have loved to read his take on.
Towards the end this book became an inner look into Steinbeck's soul regarding racism. Not that it dampered the mood, but I felt like there should have been more discussed prior and after this section. It was almost as if he wanted to write more but something held him back.
After completing the novel I can say I truly enjoyed the read. If anything, it brought many memories of my great-grandparents and their travels back and forth from NY to Florida with their 1960's Airstream trailer!
4 Stars for a great read. Not 5 because it left me wanting more!