Steinbeckathon 2012: Travels with Charley
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“Once Charley fell in love with a dachshund, a romance racially unsuitable, physically ridiculous, and mechanically impossible. But all these problems Charley ignored. He loved deeply and tried dogfully.”
“I have always lived violently, drunk hugely, eaten too much or not at all, slept around the clock or missed two nights of sleeping, worked too hard and too long in glory, or slobbed for a time in utter laziness. I've lifted, pulled, chopped, climbed, made love with joy and taken my hangovers as a consequence, not as a punishment.”
This is the discussion thread for John Steinbeck's Travels with Charley: In Search of America
Smiler69 (that's would be me, Ilana) will be hosting this thread.
Spoilers are welcome, but please indicate them in your message out of
respect for those who are reading at a different pace. Enjoy!
Steinbeckathon main thread: http://www.librarything.com/topic/130105
I just bought the book for my Kindle. I'll start with The Pearl and then get to this one.
Thanks for the thread, Ilana!
It'll be a while before I can get to a bookshop, but I'll get it asap.
#8 Yes, after this year, I'll feel like I have a pretty good base as far as Steinbeck goes, to be sure! The good news is there are quite a few more books of his to discover yet!
#9 Have you considered The BookDepository, Tania? They usually deliver pretty quickly. In these parts, in any case!
I want a Rocinante for myself. And a Charley who can say 'Ftt'.
Btw. I tagged this as 'Fiction', but it's a real travelogue and therefore nonfiction? Sorry, I get into all Steinbeck books completely unprepared and don't want to check wikipedia because of possible spoilers.
His comments about highways and superhighways resonate very deeply with me, because I've always had a hatred for those things which destroy the landscape and have turned so many parts of the continent from beautiful areas to horrible eyesores. I wonder whether he'll talk about the problem of too many cars as a growing problem... can hardly see how he wouldn't, but I guess there's only one way to find out! :-)
Fascinating stuff. I need to start keeping post-its close at hand because there are plenty of passages I want to quote from!
so many - you just have to read the whole thing.
have covered long island to maine so far, but he swept me away right from the beginning talking about how each trip has it's own personality. no matter what you plan. how very true!
loved his preparations, the storm, and observations of early risers' conversations. lol
It might sound strange, but I was a bit jealous of his carefreeness re. technical progress. It reminded me of my childhood in the 70s, when you thought the future was without limits and that in the year 2000 you might have little aircrafts instead of cars. That was well stopped when 'sour rain' destroyed the forests in 1980, CFC became evil and suddenly everyone knew about the ozone layer. When he writes about 'disposable aluminium dishes you could just throw overboard' or how useful abestos can be... Not that I want to go back there, but those were such innocent times. Man could fly to the moon and everything seemed possible.
Okay, there was 'the bomb' and there were 'the Russians'. He later says somthing very nice about 'the Americans probably being the Russians' Russians'. Does anyone remember that song "Russians" ("the Russians love their children, too?"). Looking at that song now, it was such a self-evident statement. But I remember that in the 80s, in the middle of the cold war (Western Germany always standing on the side of the US) this was quite a revolutionary and courageous song.
I used to love that "Russians" song. Had the album... it was Sting, The Dream of the Blue Turtles I believe (off to check...yes, that's right!). I just loved that song both both the lyrics and music and the delivery too—kept listening to it over and over and over again and thought that line about "The Russians love their children too" was an incredibly clever and accurate comment. And yes, that comment about 'the Americans probably being the Russians' Russians', was very good! So much good stuff in this book... every page is a revelation. :-)
Anyway, I found the following article, called 'Travels With Charley': now officially mostly fiction which is related to this new edition, in which some further clarifications are made about Steinbeck's methods in writing this book in the introduction because of the revelations made by the author of the article in 2011.
I can't say it shocked me in the least. If you've read it, what do you think about it?
Really enjoying this.
i think steinbeck captured the sense of the times and provided us a great read.
i too shuddered at the aluminum pan disposal. eeekk!
Yes, that's what I think too. However, strangely enough, though I made that statement that the article hadn't changed the way I felt about the book and hadn't surprised me, I found that when I went back to reading it during my habitual bedtime reading session, my feeling and attitude toward the book had shifted somewhat. Not negatively, mind, but because the paradigm had shifted somewhat and been confirmed, I couldn't help looking at it in a slightly different way. Still enjoying it tremendously.
i too shuddered at the aluminum pan disposal. eeekk!
Never mind "saving the planet", I just don't understand how people can treat the environment as a trash can... it just defies common sense somehow!
I did end up ordering that Penguin Classics Deluxe edition finally. Can't wait to get it in the mail! If it's a deckle edge (which the Classics Deluxe editions usually are) I'll have to alert Mamie who is crazy about deckle edges!
I read the article and wasn't too surprised. Well, maybe about the hotels and motels and about the wife being with him that often. But when it comes to the encounters with other people I didn't expect them to be taken 1:1 from reality. I'd do the same. Sad to know he was in such a low mood when he started his journey.
Probably people were told in the 60s that aluminium was as good as cardboard for one-time use. And throwing your trash into the ocean (where you couldn't see it anymore) sure wasn't as bad as just leaving it somewhere along the road. I remember times when people thought it good manners to bury their trash (bottles and cans) in the sand after a day on the beach.
I'm almost done reading Travels with Charley and I love it. Other than the occasional lapse into pedantry, Steinbeck's prose is up to its usual wonderful level. At one point, Steinbeck mentions that he loves words and my reaction was "yeah, no kidding" because I think he is one of the finest wordsmiths I have ever read. Of course, I adore Charley and the book is making me want to load up a camper van and head out onto the road. So far, this may be my second-favorite in the Steinbeckathon.
Charley was indeed a wonderful traveling companion.