Drifting through its cast of vivid, earthy characters in a series of impressionistic vignettes, The Wayward Bus, published in Penguin Modern Classics, is John Steinbeck's Californian Canterbury Tales.
The Wayward Bus travels through the backroads of the lush California countryside, transporting the lost and the lonely to new destinations. Juan Chicoy is at the wheel, a man of the land, hot-blooded and uninhibited. His passengers include Ernest, a travelling salesman out for fun, seventeen-year-old Kit, also known as Pimples, and Camille the stripper who dances at stag nights and takes the star-struck young Norma under her wing. This powerful and unsentimental novel becomes a story of crisis and passion, love and longing, as the travellers reveal their secrets and journey away from their pasts and towards, possibly, the promise of the future. The Wayward Bus, with its profound insight into human desires and failings, remains one of Steinbeck's most powerful novels.
If you enjoyed The Wayward Bus, you might like Jack Kerouac's On the Road, also available in Penguin Modern Classics.