Saturday, April 30, 2011

Sorry Charley - The Truth Behind Steinbeck's Travels With Charley

It's been a few years since I've read the book but count me among the fans of John Steinbeck's Travels With Charley. Here was the soon-to-be Nobel prize winner laying it on the line and hitting the road to report about the current state of America. But how true was the book?

Turns out, not very:
A huge commercial success from the day it hit bookstands, Travels With Charley in Search of America was touted and marketed as the true account of Steinbeck’s solo journey. It stayed on the New York Times nonfiction bestseller list for a year, and its commercial and cultural tail—like those of Steinbeck’s Of Mice and Men and The Grapes of Wrath—has been long and fat. For five decades Steinbeck scholars and others who should know better have not questioned the book’s honesty. But I had come to realize that the iconic American road book was not only heavily fictionalized; it was something of a fraud.

I'd say "fraud" is too harsh a word but when you're dealing with writers who make up stuff for a living, you have to expect that the work they insist is true may not be entirely so.

I'm not disappointed to learn this. I didn't expect the book to be straight journalism - no one reading it can come away quite believing everything Steinbeck has to say. Bill Steigerwald in the above linked article as well as his blog entries has done a fine piece of literary excavation and found a truer version of Steinbeck's story. And he also found there are plenty of people out there who, well, can't handle the truth. Steinbeck might've found that amusing and worth writing about, too.

I think Steigerwald's work sheds a different light on Steinbeck's book but says more about Steinbeck's supporters and promoters than the man himself.

Friday, April 29, 2011

March iPhone Photo Dump

I know it's the end of April and I'm only just now getting around to my monthly iPhone photo dump but, well, I've been a little busy. So let's just get to it, okay?

March began sunny and warm and clear. Clear enough that I finally noticed something I hadn't noticed before: I can see downtown Oklahoma City quite clearly from the entrance to my building:

But March weather in Oklahoma is nothing if not restless. My father-in-law had to do some time in the hospital for what turned out to be nothing serious and the days turned gloomy. The view from St Anthony's looking East:

Barely 10 days later, my mother-in-law did her own time in the same hospital for some heart-related tests. The construction of the Devon tower kept her more amused than anything. The cranes worked through the day and through the night, she said:

I posted a short video on YouTube of the part of my morning routine that includes setting loose the dogs. This barely does it justice though the blur of motion is just about captures the morning's feel:

I found time to make a batch of wine. Usually that kind of thing deserves a post of its own but see my comment above about being busy. This time around: a pinot grigio. My palate's too unsophisticated to detect much of a difference between it and the riesling I made but it's a good batch. (A client of my office partner gave him a case of wine for a filing season ending gift and I managed to snatch up a bottle of pinot grigio to perform a taste test. Mine compared favorably to a major commercial product so I was quite pleased) Perfect for Spring:

March was windy and dry and that meant grass fires:

We managed to get to Dallas for an overnight trip. I spent time browsing in the bookstore while the girls shopped. There's a name now for the genre of fiction that Emily's addicted to:

The atrium of the hotel always makes me dizzy. You?

Don't look down!

And so I end March where I began: a view of downtown from my drive home. The afternoons are sunnier, clearer, the skies bluer. Winter's a dim memory.

Tuesday, April 26, 2011

Tree of Life - Movie Trailer

Emily and I made it to the movies last night and one of the trailer we saw was for the new Terrence Malick movie, The Tree of Life. Here it is:

I have no real idea what it's about; neither, apparently does the synopsis writer for IMBD:

The story centers around a family with three boys in the 1950s. The eldest son witnesses the loss of innocence.

Well, all righty then.

Not that I'm complaining. Too often, movie trailers tell the entire story of the movie and there's no real point in seeing it if you're interested in the story alone.

Oh, but The Tree of Life looks intriguing. Due to come out next week, it's sure to be swallowed up by the Summer's blockbusters. But if the trailer's any indication, you'd better see it while you can. I don't think any TV screen will do it justice.

Monday, April 25, 2011

Catching Up

I've been a bit busy lately what with filing season and all. I plan on catching up and soon but don't hold your breath.