"Travels Without Charley" explains in great detail how I discovered that John Steinbeck’s 1962 travel classic "Travels With Charley" – marketed and taught as a work of nonfiction for half a century -- is not a true and honest account of the cross-country trip he made in the fall of 1960. The best place to start is where I did, at the beginning.
“Charley” & America in Pictures
In the fall of 2010, when I retraced the road trip John Steinbeck made for his bestseller “Travels With Charley,” I took nearly 2,000 pictures of America and Americans.
I took snapshots of people I met, places I went or things I thought were interesting, pretty, funny or stupid. I photographed many places Steinbeck mentions in “Travels With Charley” as well as hotels and homes he stayed at while on his 1960 journey.
Some of my photos are pretty good, some are blurry or kind of crazy. Many were taken through my car windows at 70 mph.
Collectively they help me tell the true story of “Travels With Charley” and provide a hint of the beautiful country and good people I saw on my high-speed dash down the Steinbeck Highway.
At least one picture from my trip, starting with Steinbeck's summer home in Sag Harbor, N.Y., will be posted here each day until July 29, 2012, the 50th anniversary of the publication of "Travels With Charley in Search of America.
"'Travels With Charley' Timeline" is a well-linked, well-illustrated, updated timeline that pinpoints, as much as possible, the places Steinbeck was between Sept. 23, 1960, and Dec. 5, 1960, and what I wrote about them when I went there. There are photos and some short, raw, amateur but informative video clips of some of the stops I made on the Steinbeck Highway.
“Why I’m Hounding Steinbeck" explains that I didn’t set out to fact-check Steinbeck or his “Charley” trip or cause the great author any grief. I just wanted to retrace his 1960 route and compare what he saw in 1960 with what I saw and then write a book about how America has and has not changed in the last 50 years.
"The Travels With Steinbeck Myth" shows how deeply the myths and fictions of Steinbeck's trip have been buried into the consciousness of American culture.