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Rolling Nowhere: Riding the Rails with America’s Hoboes

This book is a reprint of one written in the 80’s and according to the new intro from the author, much has changed since then. The author also says he can look back wincingly at some of his writing and shake his head at how naieve he was, writing about all his innermost thoughts and maintaining an “aw shucks” atitude towards a lot of the sticky life dilemmas that confront the poor.

The perspective from the author is welcome because I read a lot of this book sortof horrified at the way Conover took on a voluntary life of poverty to go ride theraisl wiht the hoboes and then spent a lot of time seemingly surprised that life was so tough, so frustrating, or that hoboes didn’t seem to treat him as a real friend. Here he is, a college educated white kid, spending some time basically slumming with some emergency money in his bedrool [and a calling card] trying to live the authentic life of the hoboes. Laughable. The stories he tells are interesting and the people he meets make grand pictorials, but it was Conover’s presence in this book that was the annoying part, and his interjection of supposedly deep thoughts about the nature of poverty and our country’s disenfranchisement of the poor made for really tooth-grating reading.