Delightful collection of short anecdotes about the hobo life, by the ""Grand Duke of the Hobos."" Fox rode the rails from...

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TALES OF AN AMERICAN HOBO

Delightful collection of short anecdotes about the hobo life, by the ""Grand Duke of the Hobos."" Fox rode the rails from 1928-39, and then hitchhiked the nation from '39 to '65. That's almost 40 years, enough to make him an authentic expert on the American wanderer, ""a free-spirited human, who put his personal freedom ahead of his desire for worldly gain."" Fox offers a few general observations about hobo life--if in need, seek out poor people and Catholic priests but avoid rich folk and Protestant ministers; don't confuse hobos with tramps or bums: ""the greatest place to fraternize is a good hobo jungle."" He also preaches (""we need to reestablish the true concept of a free America as we used to know it""), and boasts about famous ex-hobos (including Clark Gable, William O. Douglas, and Eric Sevareid, by his account). For the most part, however, this is a string of random memories and stray anecdotes--how he was poisoned by a prickly pear, how he got a suit from an undertaker complete with bullet hole, how he watched an army of tarantulas on the march in Texas--told with mirth and gentleness. The overall impression that emerges is of a man of large heart and intelligence who--for reasons never entirely explained--took the back road to happiness. This is #2 in ""Singular Lives: The Iowa Series in North American Autobiography"" (#l was Milt Felsen's The Anti-Warrior, p. 266). If Fox's entry is any guide, the series promises to be a treasure house of American lore. Great reading.

Pub Date: Nov. 30, 1989

ISBN: 0877452520

Page Count: -

Publisher: Univ. of Iowa Press

Review Posted Online: N/A

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Oct. 15, 1989