Travels with Charley

Maps are not reality at all -- they can be tyrants

We don't take a trip; the trip takes us. John Steinbeck wrote Travels with Charley in an attempt to traverse the countryside with his black French poodle contemplating whether there is anything that makes America distinct and if things had changed since the time he started writing about America (twenty years prior). 

Mr. Steinbeck related that part of his reasoning for taking the trip was motivated by the ageing process. He sneered at the idea of taking it easy later in life just to die slowly. "My wife married a man; I saw no reason she should inherit a baby," he says. 

His trek started in Long Island and ended up taking him through almost 40 states. While he took a lot paper and even a typewriter along with him, he acknowledged not using it much and the book reads more like a book of reflections rather than a journal giving specifics about the trip.

Differences were noted and discussed between each region, with some threads of similarity throughout. He rightly noted that all Americans have more in common with each other than the Welsh do with the English even though they live in closer proximity than is possible with many parts of America and even though they have been living near one another for a much longer time period. He attributes this to the restlessness that is common to all Americans -- we move around, explore, and interact.

Montana was his favorite state, and Texas seemed to be his least favorite. One of the last observations he had in the book was related to how clever humans are -- clever enough to split an atom, but not clever enough to live in peace with each other.

Travels with Charley was published mid-1962 and reached #1 on the New York Times Best Seller List.

In case anyone is keeping track:
-My mom recommended this book to me
-I found this book on my bookshelves at home
-I didn't realize it was a non-fiction book until I started reading it

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