Wednesday, September 2, 2009

Travels with Charley, and John Steinbeck

I haven't yet read John Steinbeck's Travels with Charley: In Search of America, but I love the (fiercely romantic) language I found on a friend's facebook info page, under favorite quotes:

For I have always lived violently, drunk hugely, eaten too much or not at all, slept around the clock or missed two nights of sleeping, worked too hard and too long in glory, or slobbed for a time in utter laziness. I've lifted, pulled, chopped, climbed, made love with joy and taken my hangovers as a consequence, not as a punishment. I did not want to surrender fierceness for a small gain in yardage...

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.

Steinbeck wrote the book about a road trip he made in 1960, with his French standard poodle Charley, in a specially-made camper named Rocinante, like Don Quixote's horse. The trip covered nearly 10,000 miles. I think it's a book for Mad Men's Don Draper. (I still need to read The Grapes of Wrath, too.)


Daughter Number Three said...

I haven't read this either. Thanks for the reminder!

Lyle Daggett said...

I really liked Steinbeck's novels Cannery Row and (a more-or-less sequel he wrote years later) Sweet Thursday.

I also liked the movie Cannery Row (made sometime in the late '70's or early '80's), it's got Nick Nolte and Debra Winger and delightful voiceover narration by John Huston, and a delicious musical score by Dr. John. The movie is based on both novels, and more or less combines the stories of both of them.

Another one of Steinbeck's I really like is his short story collection The Long Valley. Steinbeck is the only fiction writer whose writing has somewhat shaped my ideas about writing poetry. I've learned things about writing poems from Steinbeck's stories. Particularly his physical descriptions of people.

Poet Jim Dochniak told me once that for a time during the 1930's (in San Francisco, I think he said) John Steinbeck and Meridel LeSueur were among a group of writers who met together regularly to talk about what they were working on, share drafts and works in progress, etc. -- Steinbeck and Meridel LeSueur were in a writing group together.

The novel Steinbeck was mainly working on during that period was In Dubious Battle, about a couple of Communist organizers working among migrant farm workers. I liked that one too. Steinbeck wrote it prior to writing Grapes of Wrath.

elena said...

Thanks so much Lyle, for the information. I can feel a Steinbeck immersion coming on...

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