John Steinbeck traveled across America in 1960 with his dog Charley; he wrote about it in his book, Travels with Charley: In Search of America (1962). Steinbeck didn’t much care for Texas, but this passage in the book is frequently quoted:
“Texas is a state of mind. Texas is an obsession. Above all, Texas is a nation in every sense of the word.”
Another famous passage in the book is: “Once you are in Texas it seems to take forever to get out, and some people never make it.”
Wikipedia: John Steinbeck
John Ernst Steinbeck (February 27, 1902 – December 20, 1968) was one of the best-known and most widely read American writers of the 20th century. A winner of the Nobel Prize for Literature in 1962, he wrote Of Mice and Men (1937) and the Pulitzer Prize-winning novel The Grapes of Wrath (1939), both of which examine the lives of the working class and migrant workers during the Dust Bowl and subsequent Great Depression. Steinbeck often populated his stories with struggling characters, and his stories drew on real historical conditions and events in the first half of the 20th century.
Wikipedia: Travels With Charley: In Search of America
Travels with Charley: In Search of America is a travelogue by American author John Steinbeck. It documents the road trip he took with his French standard poodle Charley around the United States, in 1960. He wrote that he was moved by a desire to see his country on a personal level, since he made his living writing about it. He had many questions going into his journey, the main one being “What are Americans like today?”. However, he found that the “new America” did not live up to his expectations.
Steinbeck traveled throughout the United States in a specially-made camper which he named “Rocinante” after the horse of Don Quixote. He started his travels in Long Island, New York roughly following the outer border of the United States, from Maine to the Pacific Northwest, down into his native Salinas Valley in California, across to Texas, up through the Deep South, and then back to New York, a trip encompassing nearly 10,000 miles.
According to Thom Steinbeck, the author’s older son, the real reason for the trip was that Steinbeck knew he was dying and wanted to see his country one last time. Thom says he was surprised that his stepmother (Steinbeck’s wife) allowed Steinbeck to make the trip; because of his heart condition he could have died at any time.
Steinbeck then made his way through the state of Texas, which he came to dread. Steinbeck felt that “people either passionately love or passionately hate Texas,” referring to people who are just passersby like himself.
Travels with Charley:
In Search of America
by John Steinbeck
New York: Viking Press
Writers facing the problem of Texas find themselves floundering in generalities, and I am no exception. Texas is a state of mind. Texas is an obsession. Above all, Texas is a nation in every sense of the word.