Friday, July 31, 2015

7/31 Who's Charley and Why Am I Traveling Without Him?

I posted this story a long time ago, but I keep getting asked questions, so here goes again:

Way back in 1960, when I was in high school, John Steinbeck published his final book, Travels With Charley: In Search of America.  He wrote the book about a 10,000 miles trip he took across the country, living in a truck camper, and accompanied by his wife's standard poodle, Charley.  Although we did not know it then, he knew he was dying.  I have read the book several times over the years and enjoyed it immensely.

Here is an explanation of why he took this trip and a review of his book published by The Atlantic Monthly in 1962:  http://www.theatlantic.com/past/docs/unbound/classrev/charley.htm

I had a travel bug even as a child, so this became one of my favorite books. I was disappointed to learn a few years ago that some of the incidents in the book were not exactly true. This lack of truth was also confirmed by his son. The New York Times published this article in 2011:  http://www.nytimes.com/2011/04/04/books/steinbecks-travels-with-charley-gets-a-fact-checking.html?_r=0   (There is a picture of Steinbeck and Charley in this article.  There is also a picture of the camper, which now resides in The National Steinbeck Center in Salinas, California.)


In reality, the truth does not matter to me in this case.  I enjoyed the book when I was young, and it was at least a partial inspiration for me to want to travel as I do now.  I began this blog to help my friends and family keep up with where I was and what I was doing.  A couple of months after I started it, I decided to honor Steinbeck's book by changing the name of the blog.  And I kind of like the double meaning--I do not travel with a Charley of any species and do not care to!  I like to live and travel alone because of the freedom it gives me.

I do recommend this book, even if it is more than 50 years old.  It comes in a lot of editions, even on Kindle: http://www.amazon.com/Travels-Charley-Search-America-Classics-ebook/dp/B008U45WIS/ref=sr_1_1?s=books&ie=UTF8&qid=1438405225&sr=1-1&keywords=travels+with+charley+in+search+of+america&refinements=p_n_feature_browse-bin%3A618073011  

Beware: Several people have gone to much effort and written books focusing on proving that Steinbeck "lied" when he wrote this book. They miss the point entirely of Steinbeck's purpose in writing it.  It was a great book then and influenced a lot of people, including me.   

 

 


1 comment:

  1. I finally read the book a year or so ago on a Nook and really enjoyed it. I'd recommend it to anyone.

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