QUICKLET ON JOHN STEINBECK'S TRAVELS WITH CHARLEY IN SEARCH OF AMERICA (CLIFFNOTES-LIKE SUMMARY)
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ABOUT THE BOOK I came to John Steinbeck's work through his novella The Pearl, a diminutive but dark allegory about a Native American pearl diver whose discovery of an enormous pearl hurls him and his family into a world of greed and its disastrous consequences. From The Pearl, I found Cannery Row, my favorite Steinbeck novel. From its first sentence, Steinbeck's descriptions vibrate with the same energy and poetry that his eclectic cast of outcasts embody as they throw unauthorized parties and philosophize with Doc, based on Steinbeck's real-life friend Ed Ricketts, on 1920s Monterey Bay, the American sardine capital at that time. ?Cannery Row in Monterey in California is a poem, a stink, a grating noise, a quality of light, a tone, a habit, a nostalgia, a dream.? I turned next to Steinbeck's nonfiction, attracted to Travels with Charley: In Search of America because of my own experiences on Routes 10 and 40, mostly heading west towards California, or back to Oklahoma or Texas to wait until I could go again. Like Steinbeck with his standard poodle Charley, I drove with my steadfast companion, Okie Doke, a considerably smaller pooch. MEET THE AUTHOR David Shook studied endangered languages in Oklahoma and poetry at Oxford. He's published essays about dancing with the President of Burundi and being detained in Equatorial Guinea, and his poetry, translations, and book reviews regularly appear in magazines like Ambit, Poetry, and World Literature Today. His most recent translations include Mario Bellatin's novella Shiki Nagaoka: A Nose for Fiction, Roberto Bolano's 1976 manifesto ?Leave Everything, Again,? and the selected love poems of Isthmus Zapotec poet Victor Teran. His current writing projects include Kilometer Zero, a covertly filmed documentary about lost Equatoguinean poets, a miniature encyclopedia, and a collection of travel essays. Shook lives with his wife and chihuahua in Los Angeles, where he edits Molossus.