Travels with Charley is the amazingly captivating story of a cross-country trip taken by John Steinbeck with his french poodle Charley in 1960.
Steinbeck starts things off by speaking about the urge, or impulse if you will, to get up and just go go go. He speaks of this feeling as if he didn't have a choice to whether to take the trip or not, but rather nature created this desire within him, thus forcing this trip upon him.
In one of the greatest travelogues of our time, Steinbeck sets out in a three-quarter ton pickup outfitted with a small cabin (christened "Rocinante", after the horse of Don Quixote) to discover America. Although already an accomplished writer, Steinbeck felt out of touch with the true spirit of the country. From his journey through New England to his professed love of Montana, Steinbeck attempts to connect with what he felt is a lost spirit. Through his experience one discovers the many faces of America, from the quiet New Englanders to the horrors of racism in the Deep South. It is through these faces that Steinbeck puzzles together the complex picture of american society at the time.
Throughout the book Charley place an important role as the companion on what otherwise might have been a lonely trip. Steinbeck attributes many human qualities to this loveable old dog, enabling us to feel deeply connected to this extremely civilized poodle. The love between man and his dog is just as much a part of this book as the beautiful sceneries Steinbeck details.
As Steinbeck pulls out from in front of his house in New York, a young boy summarizes what many others throughout the trip will wish for, that being "Lord, I wish I could go with you". This book is guaranteed to make you feel the same.