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I first read TRAVELS WITH CHARLEY forty years ago. I loved it then and I enjoyed it even more the second time around.
I have wanted to reread this book for years, and very pleased to obtain a brand new copy of the book at a ridiculously low price. The online experience of purchasing a book of this kind, which I was unable to obtain from local used bookstores, was rewarding because I did not expect an uncirculated book when I opened the parcel.
TRAVELS WITH CHARLEY is as poignant and moving today as it was the first time I read it. Of course, when I read it the first time, I didn't think twice about the author's comments about his concerns about growing old because as far as I was concerned at the time, he was over the hill - except for his writing. My second reading brought home to me that Steinbeck was still a relatively young man when he travelled across America with Charley. His discerning eye and his candid comments about America and Americans are as fresh now as they were then.
This time, I had the good fortune to read extensive excerpts from Jay Perini's JOHN STEINBECK: A BIOGRAPHY, 1996(?), after reading CHARLEY - an excellent companion piece that points out a number of variances or discrepancies between some of the politically correct commentary in the book and the letters home and the notes he made from which the book evolved. As I read Perini's reference to Steinbeck's lament of some of the short-comings of America and Americans -for instance, the great "distraction" of professional sports, I heard the echo of my father's voice who decried the lack of attention to and focus on the real priorities in our World. I suppose that both Steinbeck and my father were on to something, namely the need to develop and to refine the resources between our ears rather than running rough shod over people and places to develop and to refine the resources below the ground – in America and elsewhere. Much has changed in America - in the once bustling centres of Ohio and New England, and elsewhere - and I am not sure that America and Americans - and the World are better off for it.
For bibliophiles, and anyone who is new to Steinbeck, I highly recommend reading others of his books - THE GRAPES OF WRATH, THE RED PONY and EAST OF EDEN, OF MICE AND MEN AND THE WINTER OF OUR DISCONTENT. These titles are all available on amazon.ca at reasonable prices.
In light of the Ascendancy of Donald Trump, this nearly 60 year old work should be compulsory reading for every American. Although perhaps past his prime, Steinbeck displays a prescience and understanding of the American political psyche which is truly remarkable.
5,0 sur 5 étoilesI read this book when I was very young and was told by my teacher it was a great book. Now I'm considerably older
Commenté au Royaume-Uni le 9 février 2018
I'm British and not a particular dog fan so no bias on those counts. I read this book when I was very young and was told by my teacher it was a great book. Now I'm considerably older, on rereading it my teacher was wrong, it is a near masterpiece. Steinbeck's observations are so beautifully recorded, I don't care if it's not the absolute truth of his trip. He writes things that stay with you forever. His idea that, "If I wanted to destroy a nation, I would give it too much and I would have it on its knees, miserable, greedy and sick.” is truer today than when he wrote it.
A wonderful book that was recommended to me some time ago. I had not read any Steinbeck for years, but of course all the others had been novels. This is not only a fine book about his travels around many of the states in America, but it is also a history that can be viewed from two different perspectives. He is searching for the America of his youth from the viewpoint of a middle aged , mature and sceptical man looking back over the changes that happened during his life and has very mixed views about the result. From the viewpoint of today we can see how life has changed in the 50 years since it was written. I remember looking at America as the source of films, music, big open spaces, flashy cars and money and all that seemed to be good in the 50's, but of course I was a naive and silly boy!!. The areas of heavy industry described in the book have mostly gone, alongside the jobs that went with them, and so, I am sure have many of the little rural hamlets. His language is rich and the vocabulary sometimes a little unfamiliar but the description of him and Charley as they meander around takes some beating. He generally writes in a balanced and considered way and is only raised to anger by the treatment of negro children who were being bussed into previously segregated schools in New Orleans and daily shrieked at by a gaggle of awful white women.
This book is an absolute delight. Steinbeck comes across as thoughtful, wry, and witty, and as for Charley Dog - if only he could have been cloned I would give a Charley a home any day! Insightful, well observed, and with some comments about materialism and the essence of the American nation that are very pertinent today. It's shortish, but quite a dense read - not a word is wasted by the author, so it takes longer to read and digest than you might think, and probably needs a second read to get the most from it. This is one book I will not be giving away or even lending to anyone - I heartily recommend it.
I have to be honest, I love John Steinbeck, I don't care what nobody sez, notatall, those charges of casual racism or whatever over 'Tortilla Flats', those charges of sensationalism or whatever over 'Grapes of Wrath', whether or not 'To A God Unknown' or whatever that one was called is a bit mystical or esoteric or something, I really don't care. No one could hope to touch him these days, not many those days, read 'The Chrysanthemums' and come back unaffected and I'll put you down myself, read 'East of Eden', 'Of Mice and Men', read bleeding 'Cannery Row'. Not just better than anything but better than nothing: true praise.
John Steinbeck has the unique ability to tell stories about people and this book is a great example of it. It's just him and his poodle Charley, through whom he gets to meet and chat with various and disparate people as they travel throughout the US. That's all it is, but that's enough.
I really enjoyed reading this. Steinbeck travels across America as a virtual unknown in 1960 talking to everyday folk and observing life. Perhaps his take on American life in this book is poignant as his health was not good and he knew this was probably his last chance to pen an American travelogue. Yes, critics say he may have fictionlised some of the dialogue but his perceptions based on what he was experiencing are still fascinating.
I wanted to re-read Travels with Charley after at least 50 years. I found it less sharply observed than I remembered as a look at the American way of life in the 1950's. Still unmistakably Steinbeck, Charley is the star still, I felt disappointed at the lack of criticism , that it was rather a pot-boiler. I bought the paper-back to send to a friend abroad to see if I'm being too harsh.
I love `Travels with Charley: In Search of America', maybe that's because I like travelogues or maybe it's because I love Steinbeck's sublime eloquence, but whatever the reason, this made for one beautiful and captivating read. Travelling with Steinbeck and his poodle Charley you get to experience a slice of American life that is sadly no more. You get his usual rich imagery and ability to conjure up a scene in blazing brilliance as he travels across America from New York to California and back again. I find his style to be immediately comfortable and evocative to read and his descriptions are simple, yet wonderful. For example, when describing autumn leaves he writes `The climate changed quickly to cold and the trees burst into colour, the reds and yellows you can't believe. It isn't only colour but a glowing, as though the leaves gobbled the light of the autumn sun and then released it slowly', simply breath taking writing. This story is all the more endearing as it is mixed in with tales of his relationship with Charley and how they interact together out on the road. I am a huge fan of Steinbeck and I have to say this sits highly in his body of work. It is concise, eloquent, descriptive, engaging and a whole host of other words that escape my vocabulary to describe his incredible writing style! This is a departure from his earlier works, which are based around depression era America and the Salinas valley, but that takes nothing away from the style, skill and story on offer and this comes highly recommended indeed.
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3,0 sur 5 étoilesI made start to this book, but got distracted ...
Commenté au Royaume-Uni le 14 octobre 2018
I made start to this book, but got distracted by another one and haven't gone back to it yet. I think the problem might be that it's a bit dated in its language and premise for modern times. It's of its own time, I suppose.
I've read Steinbeck's novels but didn't even know this book existed until someone happened to recommend it. I'm so glad I found it as it gave me a real insight into Steinbeck the man and not just Steinbeck the novelist. It's his account of a tour around America in a camper van with his dog, Charley. The book is funny - both Steinbeck and Charley turn out to have a dry wit - and I learned a lot about America and the author's opinions on his home country. He meets some unforgettable characters along the way and these provide much of the colour and texture of the account.
Thoroughly enjoyed this book. Steinbeck was travelling and looking at America in the early 1960s and not a lot seems to have changed. The humour was gentle but delightful , the dog a character in his own right Having done a little travelling in the States I could recognise characteristics and traits in the people he met. The section written when in the South was heart-rending but written as he experienced it not to engender feelings in his readers and the final section when he gets lost in his own home town is so human and understandable after his long and in some ways disturbing joourney., and funny.
I have loved this book since childhood, it was my introduction to John Steinbeck's writing.style.
His short, punchy, journalistic prose holds the attention and urges the reader on to the next page and next vignette; whilst his vocabulary and fantastic descriptive powers bring the places he visits and characters he meets to life, "behind the readers eyes".
This Kindle edition does justice to the print version of this fabulous travelogue. A great addition to your Kindle "Library", Travels With Charley might just inspire you to go and read more of this American literary giant's work.
5,0 sur 5 étoilesAs good as anything else by the great man
Commenté au Royaume-Uni le 13 février 2013
Having read lots of Steinbeck's work as a teenager, I recently heard about 'Travels with Charley' from a bookworm friend, 30 years on. I started to peruse the first page, and was immediately immersed in that world that only John Steinbeck can lead you to.
I started to get really excited, eager to turn the page. So I stopped reading it and put it away. I didn't have the time to really get into it and absorb it properly, so I waited until a few weeks later when I was on holiday. Then I could let the magic begin, and begin, it did! A beautiful story, the kind that makes you want to pack up a few of your worldly goods into a motor-home and drive towards the sunset (which pretty much sums up our holidays!).
Very much a book for someone in my age group (approaching 50), in my opinion. A rare and beautiful treat. As good, in the right context, as 'Grapes of Wrath' if you ask me. Gorgeous!
This is a brilliant book. A warm, generous look at contemporary Americal life. It is written so well that I feel, even years after the first reading like Steinbeck and Charly are my dear friends. It is unusual that I read books again and again, but 3 reading on and I stil love this book.
John Steinback's travels with his dog to see places he hadn't seen, talking and listening people with ideas formulated by their experience of living in the great variety of the United States was a joy to read. We sometimes don't remember that these are the 'united states', each with its' own identity. Some fascinating, some disappointing, we each live in our own little world influenced by local circumstances. What a privilege it is to travel, to begin to understand.