Long Way Home

On the Trail of Steinbeck's America

By Bill Barich
(Walker & Company, Hardcover, 9780802717542, 240pp.)

Publication Date: October 12, 2010

List Price: $26.00*
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Description

"We do not take a trip; a trip takes us," John Steinbeck noted in his 1962 classic, "Travels with Charley." In the summer of 2008, Bill Barich stumbled upon a used copy of "Travels in Ireland," where he has lived for the past eight years, and it inspired him to explore the mood of the United States as Steinbeck had done almost a half century before. With a hotly contested election looming, and in the shadow of an economic meltdown, Barich set off on a 5,943-mile cross-country drive from New York to his old hometown in San Francisco via Route 50, a road twisting through the American heartland.

"Long Way Home is" the stunning result of his pilgrimage, an illuminating and perceptive portrait of America at a dramatic point in its history. Where Steinbeck returned from the road depressed about the country's soul, Barich--while not uncritical of the narrow-mindedness and incivility of our present culture--finds brightness among the dark and rekindles his belief in the long view, as exemplified by the unbridled optimism of some high school kids in Hutchinson, Kansas, and by the undaunted spirit of an eighty-year-old barber he chanced upon in Jefferson City, Missouri. "The world truly does renew itself while we're looking the other way," he observes.

From the Eastern Shore of Maryland to the spectacular landscape of Moab, Utah, to Steinbeck's own Salinas Valley, filled with memorable encounters and redolent with history and local color, "Long Way Home" is a truthful, inspiring account of the country at a social and political crossroad. "The highway snakes into a tunnel," Barich writes about a stretch of Route 50 in West Virginia, "then erupts into the light with the force of revelation.




About the Author
Bill Barich is the author of six previous books of fiction and nonfiction. Amazon lists "Laughing in the Hills "among its ten best sports books of the twentieth century, while "Sports Illustrated "calls it one of the 100 best of all time. He has been a Guggenheim Fellow, a frequent contributor to "The New Yorker," and a literary laureate of the San Francisco Public Library, having lived in the Bay Area for many years before moving to Dublin.
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