Tuesday, June 21, 2011


The Lost Traveler, Sanora Babb, Reynal & Company, 1958

Before I began my Big Fat Reading Project, I was doing my Tree Grows in Brooklyn Project: trying to read all the fiction books in the library by working through the authors alphabetically. Which is how I happened to read The Lost Traveler. That was in 1994 and here is what I wrote in my reading log about the book:

Les Tannehil is a professional gambler with a wife and two kids. This is not a good combination and it finally explodes in family violence with Les on the run from the law. The writing is good, not as dreary as Joyce Carol Oates but almost. One daughter, Robin, comes to understandings about life, love and people. The rest are lost in the shuffle.

Since the book was published in 1958, it later made its way onto my reading lists. Today I looked up the author Sanora Babb and wow! She was raised in the Dust Bowl area and her first novel got bumped just before publication because John Steinbeck's Grapes of Wrath suddenly achieved best seller levels. Her publisher did not think the reading public would buy two books on the same subject!

Here is a great link to the story of Babb's life, which was more varied, exciting and difficult than any novel. Also I read somewhere else that Robin, the female character in The Lost Traveler, was noted as having more strength and free will than was usual in 1958 fiction. Cool.

(The Lost Traveler is out of print but available through used book sellers and sometimes found in libraries.)

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