Some of you miss the days when William T. Vollmann was simply the poet of the misplaced and misdirected in our little back alley, before he conquered the world and came back bearing gifts like his seven-volume, 3,000-page-plus treatise on violence. Middle age, though, seems to have tamed him, yet a tamed Vollmann looks like this: He started hopping trains, riding the rails, catching out for points west, equipped with little more than an orange bucket into which he put his business. In 2005, he hooked up with friend Steve Jones, and the two self-described fauxbeaux (say it aloud) rode the rails of the western U.S. Vollmann, of course, could never be a real hobo, what with his National Book Award and royalty checks, but he does a great impression of one, jumping on and off moving trains, staring significantly into the distance, evading rail cops armed with flashlights, pondering graffiti, and hanging out with all the spicy gentlemen who make alternative travel so exciting. He recounts his ballsy adventures in Riding Toward Everywhere, and in doing so joins such modern hobo chroniclers as photographer Polaroid Kid, Bozo Texino filmmaker Bill Daniel, and Hobo author Eddy Joe Cotton, making you love him all over again this time in under 200 pages.
Thu., Feb. 7, 7 p.m., 2008