I got an email about a month or two ago from a fellow radical library/reader type named Irv Thomas who had known Celeste West and company back in the day and had self-published a book about his decades of hitch-hiking. We arranged a book swap, mine for his, and I just now finished reading this one. It’s a wonderful exploration of what he learned while travelling in this fashion around mostly the Western US but also including a side trip to Europe.
If you’re not super-interested in hitch-hiker and traveler culture, as I am, you might find some of the recountings of when and where he got picked up and by whom and how far they took him to be a bit on the dry side. I really got into the interesting synchronicity of his trips and the people he met and the adventures that he had. The book is well written -- Thomas also has a rich and eclectic writing history ranging from Co-Evolution quarterly to his own zines Black Bart and Ripening Seasons -- and fun to pick through. Thomas teaches himself a lot about not being greedy [for a ride, for a deadline, for money] as well as taking each experience in his life, good and bad, as an experience to gain knowledge and hopefully wisdom. He’s got a positive take on things, a refreshing perspective and, judging from his manner and the photos of himself and his travels sprinkled through the book, a sunny outlook. In the library world we talk a lot about lifelong learning, Irv Thomas’s story is a wonderful example of going well off the beaten path and coming back with something to share for just about anyone.