Travels With Charley

Travels With Charley

In Search of America

Book - 1986
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Thirty-five years ago, when "searching for America" was not yet the cliche it has since become, Steinbeck hit the highways with his French poodle, Charley. In a custom-built camper he named Rosinante after Don Quixote's steed, the two traveled the country--10,000 miles and 34 states. Their varied experiences comprise several slices of small-town, back-roads Americana. Steinbeck laments the rise of plastic-covered everything, the vacuousness of "sad souls" he encounters, and the homogenization of local and regional culture. But bright spots abound, and Steinbeck rarely forsakes his humor and his hope in the human spirit. He reluctantly swings through the segregated Deep South before he concludes his trip. Here, the ugly specter of racism pervades all, and Steinbeck's chronicle is profoundly disturbing.
Publisher: New York : Penguin Books, 1986, c1962
ISBN: 9780140053203
0140053204
Branch Call Number: 917.3 S815t 1986
Characteristics: 277 p. ; 18 cm

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From Library Staff

Steinbeck's portrait of America at a time of great change, drawn from his travels across the country with his French poodle, Charley.

In 1962 when "searching for America" was not yet the cliche it has since become, Steinbeck hit the highways with his French poodle, Charley. In a custom-built camper he named Rosinante after Don Quixote's steed, the two traveled the country--10,000 miles and 34 states. Their varied expe... Read More »


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p
patcarstensen
Jul 02, 2017

Unlike a lot of travel books, he doesn't write about the end of the trip when he was just finishing driving and no longer enjoying traveling. The writing about the South is so immediate.

r
Rowswell
Nov 01, 2016

I recently read this book as I was contemplating a cross-country trip, something I have done many times over the past 40 years. I thought I'd read it on the road as I was planning on driving the same route Seattle to Ohio (long story, but I ended up reading it while flying & deferred the road trip to the spring).

After 55+ years the story still resonates & especially his description of the yearning for adventure at the opening of the book & then at the end of the book how he no longer absorbed anything he saw as he only wanted to get home.

While (hopefully) the negative experiences in the South would no longer be encountered, much of the trip and storyline would be familiar to a modern traveller.

Well written, as Steinbeck always is, the book serves to illustrate the saying "plus ça change, plus c'est la même chose" - "the more things change, the more it's the same thing".

This is a book for anyone with wanderlust. It will help reinforce that urge, or help recall memories of trips gone by.

TSCPL_ChrisB Jun 03, 2016

Part travelogue and part rant, Travels with Charley is a very conversational piece. It is strengthened by Steinbeck’s wit and insight. No matter what he is talking about, Steinbeck is able to pull his readers in and make them interested.

m
msemos
Jul 25, 2015

not great writing but I like it. his description of a school integration in Louisiana was wonderful. I am not sure that he ever found the American spirit, maybe there is none.

t
teemsum
May 31, 2015

A must-read for any age.

m
mahlysah
Apr 16, 2014

left off on page 158 Montana.

l
lukasevansherman
Dec 08, 2013

What's more American than a road trip? How about a road trip with your dog? Boom. A later Steinbeck book, this is one of his most beloved and least preachy. His novels can be undermined by polemics and clumsy writing, but this is among his easiest, most likable books, if you can get past the somewhat insufferable subtitle ("In Search of America").

b
banjodog
Jul 25, 2013

Read this book years ago and still love it. I hate to think what Steinbeck would think of Seattle now with our traffic and the exchange of our beautiful farm lands with strip malls.

n
negovdlp
Apr 12, 2013

I enjoyed this book, and found it very interesting to read about traveling in the US in the '60s. Having driven the states myself, it was fun to read the differences between doing it now and back in the day! I think I would have liked to have read less introspection, and more about the interactions he had with the people.

JCLHopeH Apr 12, 2013

Get a different glimpse of John Steinbeck as he details his journey to the corners of the United States, experiencing 1960s America first-hand with his French poodle as his constant companion. Steinbeck's wit shines, and his honest reflections about his acquaintances are just as satisfying. This autobiographical narrative is well worth the read again and again.

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TSCPL_ChrisB Jun 06, 2016

I saw in their eyes something I was to see over and over in every part of the nation- a burning desire to go, to move, to get under way, anyplace, away from any Here. They spoke quietly of how they wanted to go someday, to move about, free and unanchored, not toward something but away from something. I saw this look and heard this yearning everywhere in every states I visited. Nearly every American hungers to move.

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