what she read // travels with charley

I started this book about a month before I took a journey across most of the country to Montana.  What better way to fully experience America than read about someone experiencing America. Steinbeck writes about his travels across America in his truck, Rocinante with his dog, Charley.  While he actually did take this trip, most of the stories he relays to us in this novel are highly fictionalized.  Do what you will with that. Most of the things he says and writes about in this book just make so much sense to me.  I feel like he says things that I can’t find words for and connects things that I would have never thought to do.  I guess that’s what makes good writing.


travels-with-charley_original

When I was very young and the urge to be someplace else was in me, I was assured by mature people that maturity would cure this itch. 

 Everyone was trying to protect me and it was horrible. 
 
If one is vacilando he is going somewhere but doesn’t greatly care whether to not he get there, although he has direction. 
 
There are times that one treasures for all of ones life, and such times are burned clearly and sharply on the material of total recall. 
 
I am sure that as the pendulum reverse their swing, so eventually will the swollen cities rupture like dehiscent wombs and disperse their children back to the countryside. 
 
So much there is to see, but our morning eyes describe a different world than do our afternoon eyes, and surely our wearied evening eyes can report only a weary evening world.
 
I became aware that each state had also its individual prose style, made sharply evident in its highway signs. Crossing state lines one is aware of this change of language.
 
Having a companion fixes you in time and that the present, but when the quality of aloneness settles down, past, present, and future all flow together. A memory, a present event, and a forecast all equally present.
 
For it is not true that an uneventful time in the past is remembered as fast.  On the contrary, it takes the times-stones of events to give a memory past dimension.  Eventlessness collapses time.
 
I wonder why progress looks so much like destruction.
 
What we knew is dead, and maybe the greatest part of what we were is dead. What’s out there is new and perhaps good, but it’s nothing we know.
 
The American identity is an exact and provable thing. 
Of course I don’t think they do it every day. They couldn’t. And somewhat the same thing happens when they visit us in New York. Of course they want to see shows and go to night clubs. And at the end if a few days of this they say, “We just don’t see how you can live like this.” To which we reply, “We don’t. And when you go home, we won’t.” 
 
I was very tired, but sometimes fatigue can be a stimulant and a compulsion.
 
I speculated with a kind of wonder on the strength of the individuality of journeys and stopped on the postulate that people don’t take trips – trips take people. 
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One thought on “what she read // travels with charley

  1. Steinbeck is one of my favorite authors and I loved this book too. I loved how everyone would get so excited whenever he mentioned he’d be going on this trip and how it seemed as if they all wanted to go along with him. The redwood tree part with his dog was great. I didn’t remember the line, “I wonder why progress looks so much like destruction” but I completely agree and have had similar thoughts about progress.

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