There seems to be a misperception among certain literary types — one I have been attempting to rectify for quite some time — that William T. Vollmann, in writing about the underworld and heavy topics, lacks a sense of humor. To quell these charges, here’s the disclaimer page from Vollmann’s forthcoming trainhopping book, Riding Toward Everywhere, which threatens to veer my attention from all the other books I have to read right now:
I have never been caught riding on a freight train. So let’s say I have never committed misdemeanor trespass. The stories in this book are all hearsay, and the photographs are really drawings done in steel-gray crayon. None of the individuals depicted are any more real than I. Moreover, train hopping may harm or kill you. Finally, please consider yourself warned that the activities described in this book are criminally American.
This book was written at a time of extreme national politics. These circumstances shaped my thoughts about riding trains in specific ways described below. Accordingly, I have left all references to the current administration in the present tense. As the Russians would say, he who has ears will hear.