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Hobo: A Young Man's Thoughts on Trains and Tramping in America

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Hobo: A Young Man's Thoughts on Trains and Tramping in America Cover

ISBN13: 9780609607381
ISBN10: 0609607383
Condition: Standard
Dustjacket: Standard
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Synopses & Reviews

Publisher Comments:

With an arresting mix of homespun wisdom, gritty realism, and poignant self-examination, and set against the backdrop of a young man?s coming of age, Hobo is a modern examination of one of America?s oldest and most revered folk heroes.

A free spirit, Zebu Recchia?s mother set out on her own when her son was only two years old. Left behind, the tight family unit of father and son grew up to be more like brothers than parent and child. Such an intense relationship created struggles and pain — but also a form of independence that gave both men the mettle to face life alone when necessary. When Zebu was nineteen, he left behind his "hippie on a Harley" father in a brickyard on a cold winter day in Denver, Colorado, and set out with three things he knew he could rely on: strong boots, a warm coat, and a will to roam.

He took off down the road at sunset with his thumb out and a keen desire to see the world on his own terms. His goal was to end up in Mexico. It had always been his father?s mecca of personal freedom and absolute beauty, and so it became his, too. When Zebu jumped his first train, he was forever changed. His passion for the rails and the hobo way of life transformed him into Eddy Joe Cotton, a young hobo-in-training.

Crisscrossing the countryside with a motley band of companions and mentors, Eddy Joe learns both the dark and the beautiful sides of life on the road. Always headed vaguely toward Mexico, Eddy Joe slowly realizes that the experience of the journey is far more important than the thrill of reaching the destination.

Hobo is a celebration of the cultural and historical significance of the hobo in American society. It?s also the story of what Eddy Joe learned on the rails, and of the fascinating, worldly-wise men who became his teachers. Eddy Joe Cotton paints a multilayered portrait of this strangely enduring lifestyle — of the men who ride the trains, the tricks of the trade, the vocabulary they use, the places they camp, the train yards they avoid, the gear they are sure to carry, and the stories and lessons each one imparts. Told in Eddy Joe?s infectious and original voice, Hobo is a heartfelt exploration of a fascinating subculture, and of one man?s place in a world that has all but been forgotten.

Review:

"Hobo is the story of a modern-day vision quest, not of forests but of rails and hobo jungles. It is a story told with simple, straightforward clarity and honesty. And, like all vision seekers, Eddy Joe Cotton finds himself." Hubert Selby, Jr., author of Last Exit to Brooklyn and Requiem for a Dream

Review:

"Hobo is a song straight from the heart. Kid runs away from home questing for freedom, hops freights, keeps notes on napkins, conquers despair by writing this very book about it. Although seven years later Eddy Joe still rides the rails full time, or so I hear, this book is the tale of his maiden three weeks. Drenched in desert color, never over-literate, this is the soaring, rumbling, roaring debut of a someday grand old man of American Letters. If he lives. Big 'if'." Robert Hunter, chief lyricist for the Grateful Dead

Review:

"Eddy Joe Cotton takes us on a breezy, delightful ride through parts of our country and our culture we have never known. His style is refreshing and his humor infectious." Howard Zinn, author of A People?s History of the United States

Review:

"Hobo is a whistling night train of an American masterpiece, a wondrous achievement, Iggy Pop jackknifed into the mythic mosh pit of Herman Melville, Woody Guthrie, and Ernest Hemingway. Eddy Joe Cotton?s mesmerizing passion for the romance of roadside diners, hobo jungles, and clattering boxcars will make your heart soar." Alan Kaufman, editor of The American Book of Outlaw Poetry

About the Author

Eddy Joe Cotton has ridden the rails for close to a decade. A writer and artist in his late twenties, he is also the leader of a hobo jug band and vaudeville sideshow called the Yard Dogs Road Show, which travels the country but is based in San Francisco. This is his first book.

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FNORDinc, June 1, 2010 (view all comments by FNORDinc)
Hobo has garnered higher tiered reviews from a number of publications and periodicals. I hate to have to dissent as it was a very GOOD book, but this was by no means a masterpiece of any sort.

Subtitled “A Young Man’s thoughts on Trains and Tramping in America”, Hobo does holds one’s attention. Eddy Joe Cotton splays out his thoughts and delivers a number of keen visuals detailing place and people he has seen. He meets a number of interesting travelers while on the road, each sharing insight and knowledge of their journeys. Portions are humorous, others sad. I should point out that Cotton is not a bum. He is not homeless. He is not any of those derogatory or sad names that our society assigns to every person on the road, regardless of condition or intent.

Cotton has a great mind for details and introspection. Hobo is a non-fiction account, as he leave his home in the Denver area and decides to hit the road with nothing but what is on his back. He begins keeping notes on his musings on spare napkins, scrap paper, and when available, notebooks. As he goes, descriptions of his experiences unfold instilling a feeling of wanderlust. Anyone who has uprooted themselves on purpose will begin to feel the nag to move on tickling in the back of their mind (i know i did). Those who have always been snug at home will think about being on the road, though i dont know they will ever “get it”. He throws in a lot of the history of hobo-ing, how it started, how it continues, the mind set of folks on the road.

I have a problem with this book however, it is barely the tip of his journey.

Cotton spent 6 years on the road, wandering and living day to day whim to whim. Hobo covers only the first 30 days on the road. It details travel on the rail lines, hitchhiking, food, safety, etc. he even picks up a girl friend along the way. Auto-magically, he is then whisked away to a crappy motel room where he is transcribing his 23 journals (culminated over the years) into this book.

Really? Six years on the road? Why do we need to read about him sitting in a motel room writing? It could have ended with a simple “and then i reintegrated with society, but really only the fringe as i can never again trust a world that hides the beauty of living from the masses”. Otherwise, expanding his story to be more than just the initial month to increase his available material… Just a thought.

Perhaps it was just a poor transition from road to writing, but i felt disjointed and unclear as to what was occurring at the end. Though he has a history available for sharing, as a reader, i was left feeling that i had gotten shucked. In a nutshell it felt i got three weeks on the road with someone who regretted it a good deal of the time, some good prose through out, as many chances to crash on a couch as possible, and then a quick escape. It felt false in some ways, how i would expect it to turn out if i were to ride the a carousel, then write a book about equestrianism.

Overall a good read, but it’s no Kerouac.
Well worth picking up.

If you are looking for a more dated but sturdy view of tramping, check out “The Gentle Art of Tramping” by Robert Holden. Published in 1927, it is a bit harder to come across these days, but excellent (if you can read it. at some points the language is completely indecipherable).

-- FNORDinc.com
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Product Details

ISBN:
9780609607381
Subtitle:
A Young Man's Thoughts on Trains and Tramping in America
Author:
Cotton, Eddy Joe
Publisher:
Crown
Location:
New York
Subject:
General
Subject:
United states
Subject:
Travelers
Subject:
Tramps
Subject:
Railroad travel
Subject:
General Biography
Copyright:
Edition Number:
1st ed.
Edition Description:
Includes bibliographical references.
Series Volume:
no. 47
Publication Date:
20020611
Binding:
Hardback
Language:
English
Illustrations:
15 BLACK-AND-WHITE PHOTOGRAPHS
Pages:
320
Dimensions:
8.58x5.70x1.13 in. 1.00 lbs.

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Related Subjects

History and Social Science » Americana » General
Transportation » Railroads » General
Transportation » Railroads » Other

Hobo: A Young Man's Thoughts on Trains and Tramping in America Used Hardcover
0 stars - 0 reviews
$10.50 In Stock
Product details 320 pages Harmony - English 9780609607381 Reviews:
"Review" by , "Hobo is the story of a modern-day vision quest, not of forests but of rails and hobo jungles. It is a story told with simple, straightforward clarity and honesty. And, like all vision seekers, Eddy Joe Cotton finds himself."
"Review" by , "Hobo is a song straight from the heart. Kid runs away from home questing for freedom, hops freights, keeps notes on napkins, conquers despair by writing this very book about it. Although seven years later Eddy Joe still rides the rails full time, or so I hear, this book is the tale of his maiden three weeks. Drenched in desert color, never over-literate, this is the soaring, rumbling, roaring debut of a someday grand old man of American Letters. If he lives. Big 'if'."
"Review" by , "Eddy Joe Cotton takes us on a breezy, delightful ride through parts of our country and our culture we have never known. His style is refreshing and his humor infectious."
"Review" by , "Hobo is a whistling night train of an American masterpiece, a wondrous achievement, Iggy Pop jackknifed into the mythic mosh pit of Herman Melville, Woody Guthrie, and Ernest Hemingway. Eddy Joe Cotton?s mesmerizing passion for the romance of roadside diners, hobo jungles, and clattering boxcars will make your heart soar."
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