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Publisher's Summary

In his first novel to follow the publication of his enormous success The Grapes of Wrath, Steinbeck's vision comes wonderfully to life in this imaginative and unsentimental chronicle of a bus traveling California's back roads, transporting the lost and the lonely, the good and the greedy, the stupid and the scheming, the beautiful and the vicious away from their shattered dreams and, possibly, toward the promise of the future. This edition features an introduction by Gary Scharnhorst.

©1947 John Steinbeck (P)2015 Penguin Audio

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Average Customer Ratings

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  • Kelly
  • Colorado Springs
  • 05-08-17

Steinbeck always touches the heart, makes you feel

I am at a complete loss trying to explain John Steinbeck to people; trying to explain why exactly I LOVE him so much! His books are astoundingly beautiful pieces of work written with a quiet simplicity that confuses me. I do know one reason -- and maybe that is the whole of it -- that I love his books. He writes about people who are real, and he writes about them with so much detail and reverence. He gives you the hardest aspects of life, settings that are quiet, storylines that are slow and rich, and people who you know. He tells their stories, which are OUR stories. He loves people and allows them to be angry, to grieve, to love. He allows them to be flawed, and to delve into the things that make them unlikable at times. John Steinbeck takes the worst in people and makes you love them for it. So what is it that he does better than almost anyone else? He makes you feel all the feels.

I saw another reviewer say that he had a "heart-seeking missile" and that phrase blew me away because I feel exactly the same.

This book a bit different than some of his better known works, and yet it is also the same. It doesn't really have much of a beginning or an ending. It is a story of the journey, and not the journey on the bus, but the journey of life.

One other thought I have: Often the books that best tell the tale of the journey of life with all its messiness are sweeping, epic tales, which follow the characters throughout life and sometimes follow generations of characters throughout their lives. But Steinbeck accomplishes the same in stories that often occur in tiny moments of time. This book occurs in a day.

18 of 18 people found this review helpful

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    4 out of 5 stars

Beautifully written

A past era brought to life, narrated excellently... Loved it and I will recommend it.

7 of 7 people found this review helpful

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A Steinbeck masterpiece below the radar

We are always encouraged to read more popular Steinbeck works. The Wayward Bus is an absolute masterpiece. John Steinbeck was brilliant in his telling of the intertwining human struggles. I felt like I was in the cafe and on the bus. Richard Poe is a narrator with very few peers.

Incredibly enjoyable!

3 of 3 people found this review helpful

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You will like these people

A vivid narrative as only Steinbeck can deliver. Enjoyed from start to finish . Narration was great!!

1 of 1 people found this review helpful

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masterpiece

I have read viturally everything Steinbeck has written and have always been amazed at his profound ability and insight into human nature. W B should be in every English lit class, because it highlights more than any other, Steinbeck's uncanny ability to understand people and how they think. The story is simple, but made to be amazingly complex once the reader gets to know everyone one on the bus and clearly sees what makes them tick. I know of no other author with equal skill as JS in his ability to understand humans

1 of 1 people found this review helpful

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Surprise

I thought I read all of Steinbeck's works, and loved them the first, second and third time. Then I stumbled on The Wayward Bus. What a blessing. Not the Grapes of Wrath, but then nothing is. But such rich characters, carefully built, one layer at a time. And timely! Immigrants all, from one layer of society into another, by accident. None of them would choose to be on that bus, the only thing they share in common is a desire to be off the bus and on their way to another more welcoming place.
Steinbeck is the classic observer, none better since Dickens. A rare, rare author writing about others, unlike the current crop who only write about themselves, or invent other worlds they would rather live in. A ride on this bus in the California rain might do them good before they write again.
All aboard. Hop in.

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Great simple story about normal people

This was great. it is a very simple story, with very simple situations, the greatness of it comes through the profound development of the characters.

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Delicious!

I loved Steinbeck's depth of characters and how each has something dark or surprising about them. I did a lot of self reflection when I read this book. Steinbeck also has a wicked sense of humor! Loved everything about this read.

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narrator spoke so slow I had to listen at 165%

BUT, at proper speed the story came through beautifully and 5 star worthy. Steinbeck is a fantastic writer and although the wayward bus was in it's time considered weaker than his previous works I really feel this slice of life story is excellent in every way

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  • J.B.
  • Fort Lauderdale, FL, United States
  • 05-12-18

A Study of Our Weak Inner Selfs

The Wayward Bus, a John Steinbeck novel, read by Richard Poe. John Steinbeck approached writing as a scientific experiment. Testing writing effects to see how to best communicate. This is Steinbeck, testing out a technique; the development of plot characters; by describing their inner thinking and interaction with other members of the novel’s cast. The situation is straight out of the late 1940s era. The book’s troupe are stuck together on a short but perilous bus ride across Monterrey County, California. This is not a novel with an enthralling story-line. This is a book to read only if you want to watch Steinbeck master his technique of revealing the inner nature of humanity. What he reveals ‘ain’t so good.’

Does this mean I am not recommending, The Wayward Bus? Absolutely not. Pick it up though, only if you want to study the developing John Steinbeck or want to delve into how to depict human inner emotions in writing. This book is more of a course in writing style. Yet, the story does keep one listening (or reading); above and beyond the writing lesson. That is because it tells individual stories of doubts, egos, and aspirations. We all want to understand ourselves. Yes, the best part of this book is how Steinbeck introduces each character’s aspirations and how and perhaps why they failed to achieve their wants in their lives.

The most difficult part of this novel was the misogyny. The beautiful women were abused with male lust and little care for their beings, and the less than beautiful women were depraved with hatred because they were no longer lusted after. I am very sorry for the manner in which this world has not equalized the humanity of males and females. This is a harsh reminder of where we should not be in the allocation of women to a sort of second class status.

A strange historical fact here is although this is not one of Steinbeck’s better works, because of its lack of a strong story thread, it was perhaps one of his most economically successful books. I am a great Steinbeck fan; but picked up this book because as a 10-year-old child I saw the movie and it had a profound effect upon me. Watching individual humans fail at their hopes is a weighty experience, particularly for a 10-year-old. I did not remember much of the specifics, but after this audible listening experience, I don’t care if this is not one of the more praised of Steinbeck’s books. It is definitely, a read that would hurt no one but make you understand much about our dreams and our realities that fall short.

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  • uhhuhlex
  • 02-04-16

A novel with lots of tension and a varied cast

Initially I wasn't as keen on this as I have been other Steinbeck works. However, it was a slow burner. When I took the time to think about it, I really liked how the narrative point of view shifted. While most of the characters aren't necessarily 'likeable', they are at least relate-able.

What I liked most about this novel was how it shows how humans use themselves to play against and off one-another. This is most obvious in the relations between the sexes here - a great tension underlies the whole novel - but also between different types of men and women. It does take a while to get underway, but by the time you reach the scene of the finale, some of the facades fall away and it is at times disturbing how cruel people are to each other, and how near to breaking we all are.

2 of 2 people found this review helpful