February DPL Book Club 2021
February 18, 2021
Book: Travels with Charley in Search of America by John Steinbeck
Thirty-five years ago, when "searching for America" was not yet the cliche it has since become, Steinbeck hit the highways with his French poodle, Charley. In a custom-built camper he named Rosinante after Don Quixote's steed, the two traveled the country--10,000 miles and 34 states. Their varied experiences comprise several slices of small-town back-roads Americana. Steinbeck laments the rise of plastic-covered everything, the vacuousness of "sad souls" he encounters, and the homogenization of local and regional culture. But bright spots abound, and Steinbeck rarely forsakes his humor and his hope in the human spirit. He reluctantly swings through the deep, segregated South before he concludes his trip. Here the ugly specter of racism pervades all, and Steinbeck's chronicle is profoundly disturbing.