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The Wayward Bus

3.85  ·  Rating details ·  9,410 ratings  ·  662 reviews
In his first novel to follow the publication of his enormous success, The Grapes of Wrath, Steinbeck’s vision comes to life in this imaginative and unsentimental chronicle of a bus traveling California’s back roads, transporting the lost and the lonely, the good and the greedy, the stupid and the scheming, the beautiful and the vicious away from their shattered dreams and, ...more
Paperback, 261 pages
Published March 28th 2006 by Penguin Classics (first published February 1947)
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John I just finished this, and that possibility radically changes the interpretation of the book! Well, so much for work - I'll be thinking about this all …moreI just finished this, and that possibility radically changes the interpretation of the book! Well, so much for work - I'll be thinking about this all day now...(less)

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Average rating 3.85  · 
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Oct 26, 2009 rated it it was amazing
steinbeck pulverizes me. i'm not the type to get choked up by calling-card commercials or whose heart swells with the violins at the end of a sappy movie, but steinbeck has a heart-seeking missile aimed directly at me, and he knows just how to find my emotional center. this has always been my favorite of steinbeck's works, even though it is a shortish one in which very little actually happens. but steinbeck's strength, for me, has always been his characters, and this is one prolonged character s ...more
mark monday
i saw Dusty reading this and asked him what it was all about. he said it was hard to say, it was about life and people and what a countertop looks like and what a place feels like and how people think or not-think. at least i imagine that's what he said, its been a month or so. he also said that Steinbeck was his favorite author. he finished reading the book and then gave it to me. i would say that Dusty is my friend, sure, why not.

The Wayward Bus is about a bunch of people in post-WW 2 america.
Vit Babenco
Apr 30, 2013 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
The Wayward Bus isn’t the best novel in John Steinbeck’s oeuvre but it is easy and pleasant to read.
Man is a transitory being, and life is a journey, and we all ride in the same huge bus…
Louie went back toward the front. His eyes had caught a girl coming in from the street. She was carrying a suitcase. All in one flash Louie caught her. A dish! A dish like that he wanted to ride in a seat just behind his own raised driver’s chair. He could watch her in the rear-view mirror and find out about her
Joe Valdez
Feb 07, 2016 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: fiction-general
The Wayward Bus was John Steinbeck's follow-up to his Pulitzer Prize winner The Grapes of Wrath. It most certainly suffered for it. Published in 1947, readers had waited eight years for a new novel from Steinbeck, who set the Joads on the road to California in 1939 and wouldn't publish his next novel until 1952, when he dispatched Adam Trask west to meet his destiny in East of Eden. Readers seem to have let The Wayward Bus fall into a crease on the map between the two novels, but I was absolutel ...more
Oh my, this is dripping in symbolism—but I like it. I like it a lot! It’s to be picked up when you’re in a mood for analyzing what characters and their actions figuratively and metaphorically represent. There is more being said than that on the surface. Figuring out the symbolism is fun.

Start by glancing at the title. What is the significance of the word wayward? Is it not people that are usually referred to as being wayward?

Definition of wayward: 1. Following one's own capricious, wanton, or d
Feb 27, 2020 rated it liked it
Shelves: audio, overdrive
A group of bus company employees and passengers come together at a rest stop and on the bus. Each has a dream for his or her life that is not coinciding with reality. The final bus ride turns into a seething broth of frustration and sexual assault. If any of this occurred today, the bus company would have so many law suits that it would never recover, but this was in the 1940s so the women just straightened their skirts and soldiered on. The author’s character sketches were vivid and insightful, ...more
Sam Quixote
Feb 25, 2017 rated it it was ok
John Steinbeck is one of my favourite writers. The Grapes of Wrath, Of Mice and Men, East of Eden - masterpieces all. Even his less “important” novels like Cannery Row and its sequel Sweet Thursday, as well as his nonfiction book, Travels with Charley, where he goes on an RV tour of America with his poodle Charley, are superb.

He’s written some stinkers too though. The Red Pony and The Short Reign of Pippin IV are both tedious and Tortilla Flat is just ghastly. Unfortunately The Wayward Bus is on
Jul 08, 2014 rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: u-s-lit
My favorite present was when I was 15 or 16. A Christmas. There were clothes and things. But my brother wrapped two paperback books for me: The Catcher in the Rye and The Grapes of Wrath. Two days later I was an addict.

I was also a completist. Down went the other Salingers quickly. And Steinbeck? Well, he was God. I had read maybe a dozen or more of his books before Travels with Charley and I had my moment of doubt. What kind of man owns a poodle?

And so there was a hiatus, if you can call forty
Jun 21, 2008 rated it it was amazing
Recommends it for: you
Recommended to Lindsay by: Meghan Pinson
Shelves: favorites, fiction, adult
I should put this under poetry. I should put all Steinbeck under poetry.

One of the unfortunate victims of teaching (and especially student teaching) are the books we seek to read outside of scouring the curriculum day-in and day-out. I started this sorry soul about two months ago, and even though my heart swelled each time I picked it up, I was lucky to get a page in between finishing lesson planning at night and passing out as soon as my head hit the pillow. GAH! And so, out of defiance of gett
Samir Rawas Sarayji
Brilliant! Reading Steinbeck is like reading a perfect character study. The talent here is that it's a character study of 10 different characters in a novel of only 260 pages. And it's one of those rare occasions where an omniscient third person point of view coupled with an intrusive narrator in anything but annoying; in fact, Steinbeck couldn't have possibly achieved this level of complex characterisation in so little space otherwise. I came across a lot of reviews that say nothing much happen ...more
Nov 15, 2013 rated it really liked it
Shelves: kindle

It's fair to say that John Steinbeck did not write the same book twice, even if he re-explored some of the same themes and used similar (and often archetypal) characters. This novel was published in 1947 and was Steinbeck's second novel since the 1938 publication of The Grapes of Wrath.* The success of that novel made a rod for Steinbeck's back, as throughout of his life (and beyond) readers and critics compared everything he wrote to it.

Well, just to get it out of the way, this is not another
Chris Blocker
Aug 04, 2018 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
I've probably said it before, but John Steinbeck was not the writer most of us thought he was. By that I mean that many of us think of Steinbeck rather narrowly. Even I, having read almost everything he has written, tend to think of Steinbeck as a writer of realist fiction of downtrodden farmers and paisanos. But from To a God Unknown to Burning Bright, Steinbeck's style has never been quite so easy to nail down.

The Wayward Bus is one of the novels that defies our perception of Steinbeck. This i
Jul 04, 2015 rated it it was amazing
Absolutely loved this book!
It's been a while since I read anything by John Steinbeck.
I had forgotten just how brilliant a writer he was.
His descriptions of his characters physically and psychologically
is just incredible.
And his descriptions of nature...just stopped me in my tracks to
admire single sentences!

Just great!
Oct 08, 2020 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: reviewed
A Short Journey in Time

If one is curious about a time in the past and about the thoughts/ambitions/priorities of the people of that time to truly understand the essence of their lives, I bet there's nothing more accurate in going about it than reading stories set in that time by your most reliable and honest writers. John Steinbeck (as people who know my reading preferences would know) is The guy for such weird needs. Thanks to him, now I know quite a lot about the psyche of the people livin
May 08, 2017 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
John Steinbeck had written the screenplay for Hitchcock's Lifeboat (1944) which was about a bunch of survivors thrown together in a boat after their ship is attacked during the second world war. Three years later, Steinbeck published The Wayward Bus which had a similar story. The Wayward Bus is about a bunch of people thrown together - at a cafe and theirjourney together in a bus.

A businessman and his family which includes his repressed wife and a teenage daughter struggling with her sexual awa
"He tried to remember old times when it seemed to him that he was happy, when he had felt pure joy, and little pictures came into his mind. There was a very early morning with chill air and the sun was coming up behind the mountains and in a muddy road little gray birds were hopping. There wasn't any reason for joy, but it had been there." (204)
Rod Brown
Jul 18, 2019 rated it really liked it
Shelves: 2019-real-books
I had never heard of this novel of Steinbeck's, but I'm quite happy I came across it at the library. It is always a pleasure to discover a hidden treasure from a favorite author.

Honestly, though, this is a slow-burn, low-key character study that might drive some people nuts, especially when nothing much ever actually happens on the bus ride from nowhere to nowhere. I, however, find Steinbeck's prose style and his timeless insights into human nature enthralling. And if you want to do a deep liter
Sep 16, 2009 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: fiction
as steinbeck wrote the first synopsis of the wayward bus in spanish, he had originally chosen el camión vacilador as the book's title. he writes, "the word vacilador, or the verb vacilar, is not translatable unfortunately, and it's a word we really need in english because to be 'vacilando' means that you're aiming at some place, but you don't care much whether you get there. we don't have such a word in english. wayward has an overtone of illicitness or illegality, based of course on medieval lo ...more
Oct 18, 2014 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: american-lit
I don't care at all about what the bus represents.

It might shine as a dumpy emblem of the American journey to either the realization or implosion of our future plans. But the story strikes me more as the common American journey not necessarily from childhood to manhood, like the universal Buldingsroman, but rather the solitary transformation to self-realization from what to who. After all, what can these characters do with a Virgil like Juan Chicroy? The prototypical guide never wavers, never f
Guy Portman
Aug 04, 2012 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: fiction, steinbeck
An unlikely group of characters are travelling through rural South California by bus. In his unique style Steinbeck proceeds to explore each personality in intricate detail; their inhibitions, motivations, intimate thoughts and hopes for the future.

There’s the emotional and uninhibited bus driver Juan Chicoy and his adolescent assistant, Kit, aptly nicknamed Pimples. Ernest Horton, the itinerant and sociable salesman and the conservative Mr and Mrs Pritchard and their twenty one year old daughte
May 05, 2010 rated it liked it
An enjoyable read, but...a non-ending. (Is that a spoiler?) Steinbeck's great descriptions and characters are here. The characters are flawed but sympathetic, with the possible exception of one who is perhaps all good, but nothing really comes of that. There's no real losers or winners, just a bunch of people that go through an experience together that alters them all, at least momentarily. It is like tossing up a jar of marbles: In the end, some fall back into the jar, some land somewhere else ...more
Apr 20, 2008 rated it it was amazing
Many people know Steinbeck for the obvious titles like "Of Mice and Men" and "The Grapes of Wrath". However it is in this story that I truly feel in love with this writer. I was instantly drawn to each character, hoping that I could magically be transformed back in time to a broken down bus and it's traveling cargo.

I highly recommend this book, especially if you haven't read much Steinbeck. This is the perfect book to get started with.
Nathan "N.R." Gaddis
This is my third (minor) book from Steinbeck. I'll say I'll probably one day read one of his major. But. There just doesn't seem to be anything here for me. I did not like this. Very much. At all. I don't even understand how someone can write like this. Travels With Charlie and The Winter of Our Discontent, those were the other two. Please read it though and tell me it's not just plain bad.

At least we have Lucy Ellman with her book on our desk.
Oct 21, 2020 rated it really liked it
It’s about neither the journey nor the destination — taken literally — in “The Wayward Bus.” John Steinbeck’s 1947 novel is about the characters, start to finish, and his painstaking layering of these people makes what on the surface seems a slight tale, by the end, into a very good one.

Those expecting an eventful, episodic bus journey won’t get it. We’re more than a third of the way through the book before nine diverse people set off on what was to be a 49-mile California pilgrimage. That we’r
Jun 26, 2008 rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: masking-tape
Oct 2007: As always, a brilliant allegorist, incredibly keen on the simple and the complex, sometimes entirely perverse or wholly innocent, sometimes silly or sensible inner life of people, without ever resorting to the judgment of his characters. As always, pretty landscapes, words I've never seen before (useful ones too!), and a well-drawn portrait of a little place in that little window of time during which the old West became new. Unusual for Steinbeck: an amused narrator, which I quite like ...more
Nov 27, 2015 rated it really liked it
Definitely not my favorite of his, but still amazing (of course.)
Apr 23, 2019 rated it it was ok  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: audible, audiobook
I tried, but found myself increasingly feeling forced to return to the book. A character is introduced who repeatedly refers to women as "pigs" as though the words were interchangable, which was my cue to bail. Great writing and narration, but the story was full of characters I disliked. ...more
Susan (aka Just My Op)
Nov 11, 2010 rated it really liked it
Shelves: group-reads
Juan Chicoy and his wife, Alice, run a little lunchroom at Rebel Corners, where the sleek Greyhound bus stops. Juan also drives a patched-up old bus, nothing like a Greyhound, on a local, connecting route that the Greyhound riders need to continue their journeys. WWII is over now, and people have places to go, things to see. And they are not at all happy when the bus is delayed because of a mechanical problem and may be further delayed because of storms.

The passengers are a cross-section of huma
Apr 14, 2014 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
I'm rarely disappointed by Steinbeck's novels, and this, his next published work after Grapes of Wrath, was no exception.

The narrative follows a bus journey through California taken over a single day by a group of passengers including a company director and his wife and daughter, a travelling salesman, a stripper, a cantankerous old man, as well as two employees of the bus driver, Juan Chicoy. Having already been forced to spend the night in Chicoy's service station following mechanical issues w
Aug 03, 2015 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
The plot: A bus ride gone awry!

Steinbeck is one of my favorite authors because he has both a deep understanding of the human mind, and the ability to recognize what makes a good story. In this book he is less interested in the story itself, the bus ride, but more the individual stories of the people that take part in it. And not only that, he explores how this varied group of people tries to understand each other. In many ways it can be considered a quite harsh read, because you can see how all
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John Steinbeck III was an American writer. He wrote the Pulitzer Prize-winning novel The Grapes of Wrath, published in 1939 and the novella Of Mice and Men, published in 1937. In all, he wrote twenty-five books, including sixteen novels, six non-fiction books and several collections of short stories.

In 1962 Steinbeck received the Nobel Prize for Literature.

Steinbeck grew up in the Salinas Valley

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