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Riding with Strangers: A Hitchhiker's Journey

Elijah Wald, Author . Chicago Review $22.95 (228p) ISBN 978-1-55652-605-3

There are those who travel just to get somewhere, and those who value the journey as much as (or more than) the destination. Wald (Narcocorrido ) is fervently in the latter camp. He declares early on in this celebration of hitchhiking that while the voyage is enlightening, the people one meets along the way enhance the journey; hitchhiking is a method of traveling that is "a perfect antidote to alienation." Wald's book tracks his cross-country ramble from Boston to the Pacific Northwest, a trip he makes seem easy and, at times, unexciting. Wald describes his more personable encounters, explaining that the immigrant truckers—like Martina, a chatty, 30-something Czech—were more likely to pick up hitchers. While working his way west, Wald passes along a thumbnail history of hitching, as well as a few pointers for those keen on practicing this mostly lost art: dress in a clean and unthreatening manner, chat up drivers at rest stops instead of sticking out your thumb on the interstate, don't expect an SUV to pull over for you and avoid Nebraska, lest you wind up joining the "stripped and desiccated bones of myriad marooned wayfarers." (May)

Reviewed on: 01/16/2006
Release date: 05/01/2006
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