Laurel's Reviews > Travels with Charley: In Search of America

Travels with Charley by John Steinbeck
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's review
May 21, 2009

really liked it
bookshelves: non-fiction, classics, travel-adventure, memoir
Read in May, 2009


This is John Steinbeck's wonderfully written memoir of his journey across America with his dog, Charley. As one who loves Steinbeck, travel and memoirs -- it's no surprise that I really enjoyed this book.

What did surprise me was Steinbeck's humor. There were many times throughout Travels with Charley that I almost felt as though I were actually reading a Bill Bryson memoir rather than a Steinbeck one. I mean that as a compliment to Steinbeck's wit, though I think maybe Bryson would be more flattered by it. :)

Not much really happens in this book; Steinbeck is more interested in reflection and in description (both of landscapes and people) than he is in telling of events. But those descriptions are full of beauty and reverence, and are what make the book such a joy to experience. One of my favorites was that of the redwoods in CA:

“The redwoods, once seen, leave a mark or create a vision that stays with you always. No one has ever successfully painted or photographed a redwood tree. The feeling they produce is not transferable. From them comes silence and awe. It's not only their unbelievable stature, nor the color which seems to shift and vary under your eyes, no, they are not like any trees we know, they are ambassadors from another time. They carry their own light and shade. The vainest, most slap-happy and irreverent of men, in the presence of redwoods, goes under a spell of wonder and respect. ...One feels the need to bow to unquestioned sovereigns.”

Worth reading, especially if you are lover of travel. Or of dogs.

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