Monday, November 28, 2011

Travels with Charley (JDC #11)

Steinbeck left us a lively record of an ancient US

I had a great treat reading Nana and Poppi's (my grandparent's), 1962 version of this book. Steinbeck takes us along with his dog Charley on a trip through the US during a period characterized by the nation's racial growing pains. 

When I was in Salinas this summer with Neemu, we visited Rocinante, his truck and home during this journey, at The National Steinbeck Center (the link is to another blogger's page with some nice shots of the center - one is included below):

A journey is a person in itself; no two are alike. And all plans, safeguards, policing, and coercion are fruitless. We find after years of struggle that we do not take a trip; a trip takes us.

My wayward spirit makes me a natural consumer of a book like this and Steinbeck did not let me down. I love travel literature*, and if you do too, check it out^!  

* Other books I have enjoyed that remind me of this one include: A Walk in the Woods (thank you India D.), On the Road, Zen and the Art of Motorcycle Maintenance, Big Sur, Dharma Bums, Fear and Loathing in Las Vegas, The Sun Also Rises, The Grapes of Wrath, and My Antonia.

^ You may have read a recent NY Times article that raised questions about the authenticity of Steinbeck's account. Check that article out if you haven't. It seems appropriate to quote Steinbeck here. On page 125, he appears to believe that impulse for investigation to reconstruct the past is simultaneously impossible to deny and necessarily insufficient to fully form an account of another person. After burning another man's lost court order to pay overdue alimony, he says: "Good Lord, the trails we leave! Suppose someone, finding [my journalling detritus], tried to reconstruct me from my notes."

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