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A journalist recounts his experiences and the people he met on a trip aboard Amtrak's California Zephyr as it traveled across America's most storied transcontinental rail route. 20,000 first printing. $20,000 ad/promo.
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Kisor (What's That Pig Outdoors?, 1990) records his adventures on the California Zephyr, the legendary transcontinental train from Chicago to L.A. Kisor loves the train, the crew, the chefs, the porters, and the lore of the train that ranges from an odd sexual encounter in the baggage car to the effect of altitude on Alzheimer's, from train crashes and criminals to the history of dining cars. Kisor is especially knowledgeable about food, from the way it is gathered, cooked, and served to the way people are seated in the dining car. And there is much about toilets, the ``tidiness'' of those who can afford sleepers and the problems of plumbing. The author also has much to tell about mating rituals, the predatory nature of women especially, the charged atmosphere of the lounge car (``Casbah on Amtrak''), and sexuality in general from harassment to homophobia, including the obscure autobiography of a lesbian ``brakeman'' that Kisor narrates to a lesbian novelist who's his dinner companion and one of the few to be spared his judgmental--or his uncharitable and stereotyping--social observations. There is the ``rat-faced man'' who assumed a fraudulent identity, the ``human hedgehog'' adolescent with the Mohawk haircut, Mildred ``of the detachable virginity,'' and a transvestite dubbed ``Tootsie'' who plays a part in an ``amusing'' anecdote about trying to find a suitable dinner companion for Kisor. A chapter is devoted to the author's plans for writing a murder mystery and another to explaining why, as a lip- reading deaf person, he had to take along a translator. Presented as a microcosm in the tradition of Ship of Fools, this seems, rather, a petty and misogynistic take on the worthless passengers riding a great train served by a caring and conscientious crew. -- Copyright ©1994, Kirkus Associates, LP. All rights reserved.From Booklist:
Kisor came to the attention of a wider public with his first book, the unusual and acclaimed What's That Pig Outdoors? A Memoir of Deafness (1990). Here, as Kisor pays tribute to the pleasures of long-distance train travel, we learn even more about the challenges of deafness for a man as curious and word-driven as Kisor. As he rides the California Zephyr from Chicago to Oakland, Kisor overcomes his difficulties in speaking with people and gets to know the hardworking and pragmatic crew, and observes his fellow travelers with lively, generous, and bemused attention. A history buff, Kisor mixes vivid anecdotes from the glorious heyday of America's railroads with musings on the changes time has brought not only to the industry, but to the varied landscapes trains traverse. He reminds us that railroading is dangerous and demanding work and relates some hair-raising tales about "trains-from-hell," but he also describes, with great levity, the amorous antics of the tanked-up denizens of the notorious lower-level lounge. One of the things Kisor likes best about train travel is how time slows down. He achieves the same effect with his charming and candid prose, that same delightful suspension of the everyday. Donna Seaman
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Book Description Adams Media, 1997. Condition: New. book. Seller Inventory # M155850477X
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