Traveling Light: On the Road with America's Poor

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Beacon Press, 2008 - Social Science - 262 pages
20 Reviews
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. "Weston has written an extraordinary book in which she manages to both humanize the so-called underclass and critique the brutal capitalist system that spawns it. Beautifully written and compelling in its visual detail, Traveling Light is simply a pioneering book." -Beverly Guy Sheftall, Anna J. Cooper Professor of Women's Studies at Spelman College "Ostensibly about 'moving'poor in twenty-first-century America, Traveling Light is really the human story about life under corporate globalization, not just for the underprivileged but for all of us. Weston's trademark insight peppers every page of this ethnography that reads like a novel. Brilliant, haunting, powerful, and ultimately inspiring . . . The nation needs to reckon with what Weston has uncovered." -Juliet Schor "Traveling Light is a bold book-compassionate and even heroic. It looks at the America we ignore as we speed past on our way to the shopping mall and the family vacation. But, it argues, this too is America. Our America. Traveling Light stands as that rare thing, a work of witness. But it is also that rarest thing, a great read. In the great 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 "In this age of the transnational and globalization, where the world is divided between rich and poor nations, Kath Weston discovers America's hidden poor in the transcontinental, if not the translocal. Traveling Light is an ingenious, funny, insightful, and compassionate account of the masses who bus it around the country. And in retelling the stories they tell each other, she offers a compelling account of persistent poverty in early twenty-first-century America and the struggle to survive it." -Robin D. G. Kelley, author of
 

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Review: Traveling Light: On the Road with America's Poor

User Review  - Josh Dejonge - Goodreads

My book was an alright book. Traveling light is about poverty in America, and how we need to see it and be more aware of it. I would suggest this to any one wanting to read up on the poor of America. After reading this i really did feel as if i was learning as I read it. Read full review

Review: Traveling Light: On the Road with America's Poor

User Review  - Goodreads

My book was an alright book. Traveling light is about poverty in America, and how we need to see it and be more aware of it. I would suggest this to any one wanting to read up on the poor of America. After reading this i really did feel as if i was learning as I read it. Read full review

Contents

Pennies from Heaven 3 Final Call for Socorro Truth
21
Keep Your Eyes on the Burrito 25 Those Fools up at
48
Already Got a Job and a Lot of Good It Done Me 52
59
Awash in a Great Green Sea 6j Master and Commander
72
Just Hate to Travel Like This 81 Yall Shouldnt Have
92
Ladies and Children First 95 Anybody Asks You for the Time
106
Port Question Authority 121 The Amazing DebtDefying
151
Riding Along with Princess Di 159 All Snakes No Ladders
175
the Secret Stash 185 This Place Is a Dump 189 Ride
194
Mickeys Hot Little Cousin 201 The Back Is Where Its At
204
Lovebug 228 Another GetPoorQuick
239
Acknowledgments
245
Read On
255
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About the author (2008)

Kath Westongrew up working-class, dreamed of becoming a writer, put in time on the street, and trained as an anthropologist on scholarship at the University of Chicago and Stanford. She has taught at Arizona State, Harvard, Wellesley, Brandeis, and Tokyo University. In 2008 she will join the faculty at the University of Virginia. Her previous books includeFamilies We Choose;Long Slow Burn;Render Me, Gender Me;Gender in Real Time; andThe Apprenticeship and Blue-Collar System.

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