December 2, 2012
books I love (steinbeck).
I'm a sucker for "travel lit". Anything with adventure, journey, travel or pilgrimage in the title and you can bet I'm reading it.
I had seen a quote from this book in one of my favorite magazines, Kinfolk.
I knew I had to give it a chance.
It was really, really good. Six years before his death, John Steinbeck packed up a camper and headed out for a slow, quiet journey to discover a country he'd lived in all his life, but didn't know, with Charley, his sassy poodle.
I hope we all have the same spirit of adventure later in life.
Here, the opening page (which pulled me right in):
"When I was very young and the urge to be someplace else was on me, I was assured by mature people that maturity would cure this itch. When years described me as mature, the remedy prescribed was middle age. In middle age I was assured that greater age would calm my fever and now that I am fifty-eight perhaps senility will do the job. Nothing has worked. Four hoarse blasts of a ship's whistle still raise the hair on my neck and set my feet to tapping. The sound of a jet, an engine warming up, even the clopping of shod hooves on pavement brings on the ancient shudder, the dry mouth and vacant eye, the hot palms and the churn of stomach high up under the rib cage. In other words, I don't improve; in further words, once a bum, always a bum. I fear the disease is incurable...
When the virus of restlessness begins to take possession of a wayward man, and the road away from Here seems broad and straight and sweet, the victim must first find in himself a good and sufficient reason for going. This to the practical bum is not difficult. He has a built-in garden of reasons to choose from...
We find after years of struggle that we do not take a trip; a trip takes us."
John Steinbeck, Travels with Charley in Search of America
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