Book Club - New Feature

I’m starting a new feature called logically BOOK CLUB where I review books that I have read.  I have way too many books that I have either not started or not finished.  But occasionally I have to finish a book because it’s part of the Colorado Airstream Book Club.  One recent one was Travels with Charley in Search of America  by John Steinbeck.  John Steinbeck wrote this story or novel as he calls it in 1960 and it was published in 1962.  It is the story of his travels in a truck camper (“He christened his impressive new vehicle “Rocinante,” after the hero’s horse in Cervantes’s Don Quixote.”) around the US in 1960 before the election.  It is amazing how many of his observations are still true today.  His goal was to meet and talk with as many regular Americans as he could.  Below is the map that he adhered to in his travels

He came prepared to hunt, fish and entertain.  He found that most people were not talking about the 1960 election of JFK v. Nixon.  He did however find overt racism alive and well in the South.  Not that it wasn’t present elsewhere but it was on the surface and palpable as when he went to the grade school in New Orleans to have their first black student - a group of white housewives called “The Cheerleaders”  harassed this poor child verbally with some of the most vile words you can imagine according to Steinbeck

For me the pleasure of reading this book was Steinbeck’s observations and his wordsmith abilities.  Here are a few:

Describing a strong cup of coffee: ”…..made coffee so rich and sturdy it would float a nail .”

“Could it be that Americans are a restless people, a mobile people, never satisfied with where they are as a matter of selection? ”

“And finally, in our time a beard is the one thing a woman cannot do better than a man, or if she can her success is assured only in a circus.”

When describing peoples reactions to hearing his plan to travel the whole country. “And then I saw what I was to see so many times on the journey—a look of longing. “Lord! I wish I could go.””

“We find after years of struggle that we do not take a trip; a trip takes us.”

“Texas is a state of mind. Texas is an obsession. Above all, Texas is a nation in every sense of the word.””

“”Having too many THINGS,” he says, “[ Americans] spend their hours and money on the couch searching for a soul. A strange species we are. We can stand anything God and Nature throw at us save only plenty. If I wanted to destroy a nation, I would give it too much and I would have it on its knees, miserable, greedy and sick.””

In the final analysis I enjoyed this book and should be in the Pantheon of “Finding America” genre of literature.  This is also part of the American Road Trip genre which has and continues to be apart of our culture.  

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