John Steinbeck is quickly becoming my favorite author. I abhorred his writing in high school, but have become enraptured with his words since reading Travels with Charley. Every single thing I pick up by Steinbeck is absolute gold, including my latest forray into his work – America and Americans, and Selected Nonfiction. More of Steinbeck’s great travel writing was included in this collection of his work.
America and Americans, and Selected Nonfiction by John Steinbeck is a collection of his writing split into eight categories. Some of it is travel related, which I absolutely loved, while some of it is about his home life and writing in general; the headline piece are his observations on America and its people.
Travels with Charley is one of my favorite books, regardless of genre. I find it to be the pinnacle of great journalism and travel writing. Other glimpses of that came for me in America and Americans, and Selected Nonfiction, as John Steinbeck writes about his travels to Europe – Italy, Ireland, and France. A few of his pieces as a World War II and Vietnam correspondant are also included and just as, if not more, intriguing than anything else he writes.
I struggled some with the title piece, America and Americans, since John Steinbeck seemed to ramble in his writing and never come to any sort of conclusion on any of the essays. Some were better than others, but by and large I found my attention waning from what I loved through the rest of the book – his spot on, direct, and thoughtful words.
In order to read John Steinbeck’s America and Americans, and Selected Nonfiction, I think the reader needs to be a Steinbeck fan to start. This isn’t a good book to pick up and have as a first attempt at his writing. That honor is reserved for other books like Travels with Charley, The Grapes of Wrath, or East of Eden. But, for anyone who is an established Steinbeck fan, this will only further develop and nurture that love. I highly recommend it, despite my struggles with the title piece, as it has only made me even more of a fan of his writing.