at first the book was a bit of a curiosity. then i began feeling quite annoyed with the author. things then escalated to the point i was hate-...moreoh boy.
at first the book was a bit of a curiosity. then i began feeling quite annoyed with the author. things then escalated to the point i was hate-reading the last ⅓ of this book. sigh. i am not sure what went so horribly wrong with this book for me? in initially i wondered if the author was trying to be funny and it just wasn't translating well? but i don't think that's it. the style of writing is not very strong, so that was problematic throughout. but i also found the tone of the writing to be...as though the author was putting himself above everyone else, as though he was better than everyone else. there are moments in the book when the author criticized steinbeck, but then goes and does the exact same thing he's critical about. for instance, steigerwald calls out steinbeck for perhaps being mean. and then goes on to be fairly nasty himself. (towards the state of louisiana, in one over-the-top display.) so i was really noticing lots of moments of hypocrisy.
another thing that to really hit me the wrong way was the grossly unnecessary number of times steigerwald had to insert the fax that he's a libertarian. (25+, in case you are wondering.) who the fuck cares?! (a statement steigerwald should actually appreciate given his predisposition.)
overall, i just came to find the personality of the author - as shown in this book - to be that of a jerkface. one instance of this has to do with a potential visit with his sister. the author lives in pittsburgh. his sister in...new mexico. he gets to within 100 miles of his sister's house - a place where she lives mostly off the grid, in a very simple way. steigerwald has time for this, as he's ahead of steinbeck's schedule. but he opts to not go visit her. a bit later on, when he does not quite have a lot of time, he goes on a 125-ish mile detour. where i had a problem was in how he qualified this decision, which only served to make me feel that his sister was not terribly important to him.
it's funny how things are read and opinions are formed. steigerwald may be a perfectly nice man...but, wow. i did not get that impression in reading this book. it's clear he has done a lot of research on steinbeck, and it's cool he retraced (mostly) steinbeck's 1960 journey. both men, though looking to find 'america', were fairly insulated in their travels, their exposures were to mostly white, middle class people. at times (both in 1960 and in 2010) when so many people in america are struggling, and politics are so active, neither did a good job of capturing diverse slices of life. (though at least steigerwald recognizes this, yet seems to take pains to stress how well and wealthy americans are doing today (wtf?)- the fact his only visit to an area of colour/diversity occurred in new orleans, and is then followed by a serious hate-on rant agains the entire state really didn't serve him, or the book, well at all.)
i don't know if i am making sense here. i have a number of passages highlighted in the book, so will come back to add some quotes to support my opinions, once i have my nook at hand.
anyway...this book -- skip it. i read it for you, now you don't have to. ugh!(less)
well....THAT was disappointing. at moments, it reminded me (but in poorer style) to the social commentary sidebars steinbeck took in The Grapes of Wra...morewell....THAT was disappointing. at moments, it reminded me (but in poorer style) to the social commentary sidebars steinbeck took in The Grapes of Wrath, but in 'travels with charley' they seemed clunky and dry. i was hoping for a bit more of stein beck's personality in reading this book. while there were glimpses of him, i feel as though he held himself back from being overly personal. the bits of steinbeck that were revealed were not alays likeable - so that is a challenge to my steinbeck love. plus there's the whole 'wteinbeck is a big fat liar' issue': the controversy surrounding the book, and stein beck's (and his publisher's) lack of honesty and truthfulness about 'charley'. i began reading Dogging Steinbeck: How I Went in Search of John Steinbeck's America, Found My Own America, and Exposed the Truth about 'Travels with Charley', by Bill Steigerwald last night. mostly to try and gain a better understanding o stein beck's project. so that's a bit weird, isn't it? reading a contemporary investigative journalist to gain a clearer picture of a journey/writing project that took place 50 years ago. but there you go. i have been wondering if my small bit of knowledge of the issues with 'charley' tainted my enjoyment of the read, and i don't think so. i was ready and open to enjoy travelling around the USA with john and charley...but was left thinking 'how soon can i get out of this truck?' (the truck, mind you, is totally cool!!)
OH! i would also like to call bullshit: (view spoiler)[ COME ON! who goes out into a bay, DURING A DEVASTATING HURRICANE, to re-secure a boat and then swims (SWIMS!!!) back to shore?? NO ONE - that's who. (hide spoiler)] bullshit, john steinbeck. bullshit! sorry!!
anyway -- i am feeling a bit bummed after reading 'travels with charley'.["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>(less)