I enjoyed reading Travels With Charley: In Search of America, by John Steinbeck. Though I’ve read many of his novels and short stories, this was the first time I’d read any non-fiction by him. I was pleasantly impressed with his humor and easy-to-read, friendly writing style.
Title: Travels With Charley: In Search of America
Author: John Steinbeck
Publisher: Originally published by Viking Press in 1962.
Location: United States
POV: First person travel memoir
Awards won: New York Times Best Seller list, October 21, 1962
My Source: I read this in 2007, in hardcover.
Road trip! With a dog! Time to see the United States, and write about it along the way.
Steinbeck concealed his true identity from most people he met along the way so they would act naturally around him. By then he was a famous author; this was his last book. He felt out of touch with the people he was famous for writing about, and believed this was the way to revitalize his outlook on American life.
Characters in Travels With Charley
John Steinbeck – The author/travel writer
Charley – John’s dog, a French Poodle.
Rocinante – John Steinbeck’s GMC truck with camper.
People they encountered along the way.
Paperback Version of Travels With Charley
Travels With Charley: In Search of America is a travel narrative. John Steinbeck wrote it while taking a three-month cross-country trip in 1960. He and his black poodle, Charley, toured the United States in a truck with a camper on it.
Steinbeck couldn’t see everything but he wrote about his experiences in Maine, Illinois, Wisconsin, Minnesota, South Dakota, Montana, Oregon, California, Texas, Louisiana, and his home state, New York.
Although he took the trip to reconnect with common Americans, he spent a lot of time writing about his dog, Charley. I loved reading about his experiences of traveling with a dog.
Along the way he met Canadian farm workers, motel owners, some old friends in Monterey County, California, rich Texans, and many others. He had a bit to say about politics, and provided heartfelt comments about racial unrest in the deep south. While waiting to connect with his wife who flew to Chicago to spend a few days with him, he unraveled the mystery life of a former hotel guest by examining clues left in an upscale hotel room he’d been given access to. And he spared the lives of two coyotes in the Mojave Desert.
I’m glad I took the time to read Steinbeck’s last book. I can never get enough of his writing.