About the book: John Steinbeck (Feb. 27, 1902 - December 20, 1968) embarks on a journey to discover America in the fall of 1960. He drives a brand new three-quarter ton pickup camper truck and travels with his dog Charley. His purpose is to learn something about the vast United States and write a book about his experiences.
First Line: When I was very young and the urge to be someplace else was upon me, I was assured by mature people that maturity would cure this itch.
My thoughts: What can I say, I fell in love with Charley, but enough about that. This book has been on my TBR pile fro quite some time. I can't believe it has taken me so long to get to it. I love Steinbeck's writing, the way he uses words to describe, his turn of a phrase, the quiet, unexpected humor in passages. I enjoyed this book, enjoyed the fact that it was so much more than I expected. I thought I would find a humorous look at America, and there were parts that were funny. I also enjoyed the descriptions of the beauty he saw in his months on the road. However there were parts that were sobering, that took a close look at subjects like civil rights, racism, war, and waste, all precursors to troubles we face today. I would suggest this book to anyone. Get it and read it.
* "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."
*“If manners maketh man, then manner and grooming maketh poodle”
*"For how can one know color in perpetual green, and what good is warmth without cold to give it sweetness?"
*“Submarines are armed with mass murder, our silly, only way of deterring mass murder”
*“The mountains of things we throw away are much greater than the things we use. In this, if in no other way, we can see the wild and reckless exuberance of our production, and waste seems to be the index”
*“We Americans bring in mercenaries to do our hard and humble work. I hope we may not be overwhelmed one day by peoples not too proud or too lazy or too soft to bend to the earth and pick up the things we eat”
*Less than a mile from the entrance I saw a bear beside the road, and it ambled out as though to flag me down. Instantly a change came over Charley. He shrieked wit rage. His lips flared, showing wicked teeth that have some trouble with a dog biscuit. He screeched insults at the bear, which hearing the bear reared up and seemed to me to overtop Rocinante. Frantically I rolled the windows shut and, swinging quickly to the left, grazed the animal, then scuttled on while Charley raved and ranted beside me, describing in detail what he would do to that bear if he could get at him. I was never so astonished in my life. to the best of my knowledge Charley had never seen a bear, and in his whole history had showed great tolerance for every living thing.
John Steinbeck Exhibition Hall
Review from 1962