Travels With Charley

I began my reading adventures about two years before I began writing this blog and had absolutely no idea where to begin.  So many books I have heard about and been told to read it was almost overwhelming.  Since I am in the middle of ditching a book I started and then beginning a new one I figured I would update the ol blog with the book that truly started it all.  Travels With Charley by John Steinbeck.

As I mentioned before where in the world would one begin when deciding which book to embark on first in my new desire to read books more often?  The only logical solution I had was to go into the book store, explain what I am doing, while also mentioning how clueless I really was, and simply ask the clerk to randomly pick out a book for me.  What followed was a 20 minute journey into what I might potentially enjoy while also starting with something that is universally liked.  The clerk decided on Travels With Charley and boy was it a great one.

Travels is about Steinbeck setting out on a journey across America with the main of goal not necessarily to sight see but to visit and discuss with the average American and get in touch with his soul again.  He also brings along his canine companion Charley and tells part of the story through what he thinks his dog might be thinking.  The book is so well written that you sometimes forget that he is telling all truthful stories about the people he meets along the way.  Seeing as his travels took place during the 60s it was interesting reading about the subject matter, as far as, technology, politics and race are concerned.  Sadly a lot in those particular areas are not much different from today.

I couldn’t help but be excited for when he talked about his time in Montana and I don’t believe my writing can do it justice for what he wrote.  I believe he spent the longest amount of time in Montana on his journey but wrote the least and I think his writing explains why.  I will close with John Steinbeck’s excerpt from the book which is receiving 8.3 cups of coffee.

“The next passage in my journey is a love affair. I am in love with Montana. For other states I have admiration, respect, recognition, even some affection, but with Montana it is love, and it’s difficult to analyze love when you’re in it. Once, when I raptured in a violet glow given off by the Queen of the World, my father asked me why, and I thought he was crazy not to see. Of course I know now she was a mouse-haired, freckle-nosed, scabby-kneed little girl with a voice like a bat and the loving kindness of a gila monster, but then she lighted up the landscape and me. It seems to me that Montana is a great splash of grandeur. The scale is huge but not overpowering. The land is rich with grass and color, and the mountains are the kind I would create if mountains were ever put on my agenda. Montana seems to me to be what a small boy would think Texas is like from hearing Texans. Here for the first time I heard a definite regional accent unaffected by TV-ese, a slow-paced warm speech. It seemed to me that the frantic bustle of America was not in Montana. Its people did not seem afraid of shadows in a John Birch Society sense. The calm of the mountains and the rolling grasslands had got into the inhabitants. It was hunting season when I drove through the state. The men I talked to seemed to me not moved to a riot of seasonal slaughter but simply to be going out to kill edible meat. Again my attitude may be informed by love, but it seemed to me that the towns were places to live in rather than nervous hives. People had time to pause in their occupations to undertake the passing art of neighborliness.”

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