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Travels With Lizbeth Hardcover – October 1, 1993


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Product Details

  • Hardcover: 271 pages
  • Publisher: St Martins Pr; 1st edition (October 1993)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0312099266
  • ISBN-13: 978-0312099268
  • Product Dimensions: 8.1 x 5.8 x 1 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 1 pounds
  • Average Customer Review: 4.4 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (24 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #1,626,881 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Editorial Reviews

From Library Journal

A writer of gay erotic fiction, Eighner first attracted the attention of the literary world when the Threepenny Review published "On Dumpster Diving," his essay on how to forage for food, clothing, and other items from dumpsters. That piece is included in this remarkable account of Eighner's three years of homelessness. After quitting his job at a state mental hospital and being evicted from his rented shack, Eighner embarked with his dog, Lizbeth, on an odyssey of hitchhiking from Texas to California and back and of struggling to live on Austin's inhospitable streets. Refusing to panhandle or steal and fiercely attached to Lizbeth (a bed at the Salvation Army would have meant putting her to sleep), he endured numerous misfortunes and indignities. At first, Eighner's wierd prose--stiff, with lots of big 19th-century words--is off-putting, but then his unique voice--part naif innocent, part eccentric fool--has the reader rooting for Eighner and Lizbeth. Strongly recommended.
- Wilda Wil liams, "Library Journal"
Copyright 1993 Reed Business Information, Inc.

From Booklist

Travels touches on many subjects, but its most dominant quality is good storytelling. Eighner fills his pages with vivid descriptions, perceptive observations, humor, and writing that carries the reader easily over troublesome issues. His theme is homelessness. Since Eighner is knowledgeable, clear-eyed, and sharply articulate about the social welfare system, his book is also about waste, self-righteousness, and generosity in an affluent society. It's a story of poverty, physical stress, and ever-present anxiety, yet his dog Lizbeth, who can't be trusted to guard anything or keep quiet when necessary, brings with her a warm and amusing story of man and pet. It is also, variously, about a homosexual, mistrustful, talented, and difficult man doing his best to set and follow his own well-ruminated and admirable priorities under distressing conditions. Together, the pieces form an unaffected, absorbing narrative. Virginia Dwyer

More About the Author

Lars Eighner is the author of Travels with Lizbeth, the 20th anniversary edition of which can be pre-ordered now for Dec. 3, 2013 release. He is the author of numerous golden-age gay erotic stories, a novel, and a work of gay theory.

Lars Eighner was born November 25, 1948 in Corpus Christi, Texas, the grandson of Texas poets Alice Ewing Vail and John Arthur Vail. He grew up in Houston, Texas and was graduated from Lamar High School. He studied creative writing at the Corpus Christi Fine Arts Colony under George Williams of Rice University (then Rice Institute). He attended the University of Texas (now The University of Texas at Austin) and completed major work in Ethnic Studies. He contributed to The Rag (Austin underground newspaper) and numerous local gay publications.

He began writing gay erotica in the early 1980s, placing erotic short stories in nearly all of the slick and not-so-slick gay magazines of that era including Blueboy, Inches, Mandate, Drummer, The Guide, Manifest, In Touch for Men, and Honcho. He published essays in The Advocate and a number of regional gay publication. He placed the first safer-sex docu-fiction with Blueboy when no other slick gay men's magazine was addressing the issue of safer sex and the AIDS crisis - health crisis organizations had to buy ad space to get safer sex information in magazines at that time.

His first collection of short stories (Bayou Boy) was published by Gay Sunshine press in 1985.

In 1988 he and his dog Lizbeth became homeless. Their experiences over the following three years were recorded in Travels with Lizbeth (St. Martin's Press, 1993) and became a New York Times Book Review Editor's Choice. He and Lizbeth appeared on the cover of The New York Times Book Review and in the pages of People, The Guardian (UK), and Texas Monthly among others.

His works include numerous story collections, a comic novel, a book about writing gay erotica, and a book of gay theory.

He lives in a very modest apartment in Austin with his companion of 27 years.

Customer Reviews

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See all 24 customer reviews
The story he tells is amusing, bewildering, honest and insightful.
Debra Bunger
I lived in Austin for a time and this is MUCH reading for anyone who has ever lived there, OR owned a dog (or rather shared there life with a dog).
W. Collins
A really on-the-road story and how to book but never one where you feel sorry for their lack of funds or sometimes dire circumstances.
baldnict

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

11 of 13 people found the following review helpful By Jasmine Guha on March 16, 2000
Format: Paperback
I live in Austin and so I am familiar with a lot of the places mentioned in the book. Austin is currently (and was becoming at the time of publication) an economically prosperous city with it's much touted high-tec industries and growing affluence. Of course not everyone benefits from the growing economy and this book shows that there are some that do not benefit at all. The experiences of living on the streets of Austin and the southwest with a dog are told with great humor and wit. The fact that this book is very well written suggests that Lars Eighner doesn't fit the usual homeless stereotype of being ignorant, uneducated and useless to society. In fact in the book Eighner mentions having regular job before his circumstances changed. It does make one wonder how many other people are out there who go through similar experiences in life. anyway, this book is definitely worth a read.
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5 of 5 people found the following review helpful By A Customer on June 18, 2004
Format: Paperback
Engaging and largely unsentimental account of being one of the itenerant homeless, with the added complication of having a dog. The author does not anthropomorphize Lizbeth which is the best decision he could make. Rather than a heartwarming story straight out of "Touched by An Angel" we get a complex picture of his world: the various hitchhikers, Good Samaritans, petty bureacrats and lost souls who, through reasons besides simple irresponsiblity, happen to find themselves on the streets. Luckily, the chronicle has a happy ending, but it feels earned and not fake.
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6 of 7 people found the following review helpful By Anarcissie on February 4, 2006
Format: Paperback
Lars Eighner is a better writer and a better story-teller than most of the people filling books in bookstores and lying on Oprah these days. But those are not the only reasons you should read the book. The primary reason is because, unlike almost anyone else you will meet in public life -- authors, professors, officials, savants, celebrities -- Eighner is an intelligent, honest, humane, authentic and _original_ person. Reading _Travels with Lizbeth_ is like reading _Walden_: there's some kind of mind on the other side of the page, a mind which unlike the ciphers on television is awake and can see things. Including, as he says towards the end of the book, "all the way to the bottom", because he's been to visit more than once while most of the rest of us were pretending it wasn't there. (As the social fabric continues to decay we might want to get to know something about its geography.) I am reminded of Whitman's "Who touches this book touches a man." And a dog as well. Buy, beg, borrow or steal this book. It might wake you up a little. And if you're already awake it'll help you to know that there's someone else out there, across the night.
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6 of 8 people found the following review helpful By jason812 on March 27, 2004
Format: Paperback
This is one of my favorite memoirs. It reads less like an autobiography than a collection of related short stories, each one witty, poignant, and carefully drawn.
It also serves as bracing lesson, not so much about "homelessness", but about how even an uncommonly intelligent and capable, if somewhat non-standard, person can slip through what's left of our social safety net and end up on the street. As Eighner tells it here, if it weren't for a couple of strokes of random good fortune, he would not have been a position to put a roof over his head again, much less publish this book.
For those wondering what Eighner is up to now, he's still writing. Examples of his recent and not-so-recent work can be found on his website, which can be easily found by putting "Lars Eighner" in a search engine. As for the reviewer who felt cheated because the book did not offer sufficient details of Eighner's sex life, there's a link to Eighner's erotic writing on the site as well -- that ought to satisfy your cruelly frustrated needs.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful By lastsurrealist on November 28, 2011
Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
This book is amazing. The author is clear, likable, and writes honestly about his first-hand experience as a homeless person. He isn't angry nor does he lobby for any position concerning homelessness. He just tells you about his experience. This book also doubles as a man and his best friend story. There is a part of the book where Lizbeth comes into danger and it almost made me cry. Yes, a lot of the homeless population has problems with consumption or mental illness but if I met Lars on the street I would be happy to talk to him. I guess this book is as close as I'll get.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful By baldnict on October 15, 2011
Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
I have read this title several times over the years and borrowed from my local library, but finally figured I needed my own copy. The author and his dog travel from Texas to California and back quite a few times thumbing rides and taking their chances. A really on-the-road story and how to book but never one where you feel sorry for their lack of funds or sometimes dire circumstances. I've continued to keep in touch with him on Facebook and light a candle to his shrine for his dog who made this tale one of great companionship and courage.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful By Bonnie Brody TOP 500 REVIEWERVINE VOICE on March 6, 2009
Format: Paperback
This is an entertaining memoir of Lars Eighner's three years of mixed homelessness and hitch-hiking with his dog, Lizbeth. Mr. Eighner has a way of capturing the true craziness and Catch-22's of our welfare system. His characterizations, internal reflection and his take on the events around him are eccentric and unique.

One of his takes on the Texas welfare system is as follows. It had me in stitches:

"In Texas, a person can not qualify for food stamps unless he or she does not really need them. A person who truly needs food stamps can not be eligible to receive them. To get food stamps, a person must have all to him or herself a functioning kitchen; if the kitchen is shared, then all who share the kitchen must, as a group, qualify for food stamps. To prove that you have the kitchen, you must have a rent receipt, which opens the question of where you got the money to pay the rent. If you can not pay the rent then you must get a written statement from the landlord that he allows you to live rent-free, which statement the landlord will not give you if he is properly advised, because it prejudices his case in the event he wants to collect back rent or to evict you for non-payment."

This book is comprised of three year's of Mr. Eighner's anecdotes of dumpster diving, his attempts at publishing is pornographic writing, crazy drivers who pick him up hitch-hiking, crazy friends and tragic situations. The anecdotes are enlightening, sardonic and humorous. Finally, Mr. Eighner is able to sell enough of his writing (gay porn) to get off the streets - at least for a while.

I highly recommend this book.
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