Literary Road Trippin'

July 30, 2015


Summertime is humming along at full tilt, and if you’re anything like us, you can hear the open road beckoning in the July breeze.  That’s right, ’tis the season for the great American road trip, and luckily it’s never been easier to blend your warm-weather wanderlust and year-round bibliomania into one amazing August adventure.  Atlas Obscura – the “definitive guide to the world’s wondrous and curious places” – has undertaken the “painstaking and admittedly quixotic effort to catalog the country as it has been described in America’s road-tripping literature.”  The result is an “obsessively detailed” interactive map that charts the cross-country routes of 12 books including Cheryl Strayed’s Wild, Tom Wolfe’s The Electric Kool-Aid Acid Test, John Steinbeck’s Travels with Charley, and Jack Kerouac’s On the Road.  For those short on vacation days or gas money, it’s a great way to take a literary road trip from the comfort of your couch or cubicle.  But if you can… live a little.  Roll down your windows, crank up the tunes (or – in this case – the audiobooks), and hit the actual highway with Atlas Obscura as your guide.  You can’t let Sal Paradise have all the fun.

Steinbeck’s “Travels with Charley” Revisited

January 6, 2011

A while ago I had recommended Steinbeck’s Travels with Charley, his last book, which was written in 1962. (He was awarded the Nobel Prize for Literature that year and died in 1968.) Now the claim is being made that, whether it is a favorite of generations or not, much of the book was not actually true:

1)  he didn’t rough it that much

2) his wife did accompany him quite a bit

3) he invented several interesting individuals who were ready to converse  about the American condition

Clearly the researcher spent much time and energy to verify all this, but it is a little disheartening. On the other hand, does it totally detract from the value of the work? NPR featured a discussion with Bill Steigerwald who weighs in on the nature of “fictionalized” nonfiction.

Shira S.

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