Traveling Light: On the Road with America's Poor

Traveling Light: On the Road with America's Poor

by Kath Weston
     
 

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How far can you get on two tacos, one Dr. Pepper, and a little bit of conversation? What happens when you're broke and you need to get to a new job, an ailing parent, a powwow, college, or a funeral on the other side of the country? And after decades of globalization, what kind of America will you glimpse through the window on your way? For five years, Kath Weston

Overview

How far can you get on two tacos, one Dr. Pepper, and a little bit of conversation? What happens when you're broke and you need to get to a new job, an ailing parent, a powwow, college, or a funeral on the other side of the country? And after decades of globalization, what kind of America will you glimpse through the window on your way? For five years, Kath Weston rode the bus to find out.

Weston's route takes her through northeastern cities buried under layoffs, an immigration raid in the Southwest, an antiwar rally in the capitol, and the path traced by Hurricane Katrina. Like any road story, this one has characters that linger in the imagination: the trucker who has to give up his rig to have an operation; the teenager who can turn any Hollywood movie into a rap song; the homeless veteran who dreams of running his own shrimp boat; the sketch artist who breathes life into African American history; the single mother scrambling for loose change. But Traveling Light is not just another book about people stuck in poverty. Rather, it's a book about how people move through poverty and their insights into the sweeping economic changes that affect us all.

The bus is a place where unexpected generosity coexists with pickup lines and scams, where civic debates thrive and injustice finds some of its most acute analysts. Hard-working people rub shoulders with others who rap, sketch, and story new worlds into being. Folded into these poignant narratives are headlines, studies, and statistics that track the intensification of poverty and inequality as the United States enters the twenty-first-century. If sharp-eyed observations and down-to-earth critique-of the health care system, imperialism, the state of the environment, or corporate downsizing-are what you're looking for, Weston suggests the bus is the place to find it. The result is a moving meditation on living poor in the world's wealthiest nation.

From the Hardcover edition.

Editorial Reviews

From the Publisher
In the tradition of Studs Terkel . . . Years of motion are covered in visually descriptive language which wraps around perfectly chosen metaphors and shorthand images standing in for larger social phenomena.—Todd Mercer, ForeWord

"[Weston's] eyes are sharp and her heart is in the right place. A gritty portrait of hard-pressed people moving through some of the least attractive real estate in America."—Kirkus Reviews

"Brilliant, haunting, powerful, and ultimately inspiring . . . The nation needs to reckon with what Weston has uncovered."—Juliet Schor

"Traveling Light stands as that rare thing, a work of witness. But it is also that rarest thing, a great read. In the tradition of adventuresome road books and anguished social commentary, Weston has created a testament to the abiding greatness of our national soul."—Luis Alberto Urrea, author of The Devil's Highway

"[An] accessible gem . . . This book is a piece of 21st-century Americana in motion, and its characters and cities will resonate and linger with readers."—Publishers Weekly

"[Weston] is gifted in making real contact with the most unlikely people who are not unlikely to her."—Barbara Rich, Charlottesville Daily Progress

Product Details

ISBN-13:
9780807096529
Publisher:
Beacon Press
Publication date:
09/01/2008
Sold by:
Penguin Random House Publisher Services
Format:
NOOK Book
File size:
292 KB

Meet the Author

Kath Weston grew up working class, dreamed of becoming a writer, and trained as an anthropologist at the University of Chicago and Stanford. The award-winning author of five books, including Families We Choose and Render Me, Gender Me, Weston teaches at the University of Virginia and lives in Charlottesville.

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