Monday, March 3, 2014


Steinbeck's shoes

Part of the inspiration for CoW derives from one of the finest road books ever written:  Travels With Charley by John Steinbeck.

I bought a copy a few years back after visiting Salinas and the National Steinbeck Center, maybe the biggest and best museum in the world dedicated to a writer.

That was after making the acquaintance of Thom Steinbeck, John's son, at the old Piatti bar in Montecito's upper village.

Thom, a fine novelist himself, told me that his dad would have loved blogs, and blogging.  "He wanted to connect directly with the reader, to hell with the middleman," said Thom, sipping tequila.  "If my father were alive today, he'd be blogging his written words."

And would have owned them, too, circumventing Thom's monumental and heroic battle with book publishers over his late father's copyrights.

If John Steinbeck had a rule about writing, Thom told me, it was this:  please yourself but connect with the reader.

I finally read Travels With Charley last month and, sure enough, Steinbeck pleased himself (satiating his curiosity about America and Americans circa late 1950s).

And, over half-a-century later, he still connects with readers.