John Steinbeck’s “Travels With Charley: In Search Of America”

This travelogue by John Steinbeck is very close to my heart, not because of great writing but due to the idea of such a travel. Literature wise, many of his other books like “East of Eden” are really great, but “Travels with Charley: In search of America” makes you crave for such a journey. During the end of his career, he took a road trip in a specially designed camper named Rocinante along with his French Standard poodle “Charley” around the United States. This book is the story of that journey.

His journey started from Long Island, New York and followed the outer boundary of America from Maine to the Pacific Northwest, down to California, across to Texas and then back to New York. His idea was to see his country with his own eyes about which he had written so much and he wanted to do it alone but still took Charley along with him for some company. He has written about the places he visited and people he met during this time. He was trying to understand the people of his country but in the end he felt that they did not live upto his expectations. The book ends in an irony where after travelling for the length and breadth of country he gets lost in traffic of New York at his return.

For me, just the idea of such a journey itself is fascinating and while reading the book, I had silently made a promise to myself that someday, I will take up such a journey.

I have always felt that travel and writing/reading are somehow related to each other. Travel to different places open up your eyes to the world and reading during travel is also a great pasttime. But this is a material for some other writing that I will do some other time.

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