Brian Barbeito reviews William Vollmann’s Riding Toward Everywhere

William T. Vollman's name in orange at the top, then Riding Toward Everywhere in green at the bottom. Black and white photo of a train heading towards you on a track in the distance with a telephone pole to its right.

William T. Vollmann writes with clarity and a rare sort of honesty that is not easy to find. In this wonderfully written account of train hopping the reader experiences the outward adventures and also Vollmann’s thoughts on trains, travel, literary heroes, the meaning of friendship, and more. Vollmann shows us courage in his actions, and at even the more difficult of times, inspiration for writing and life through his keen interest in both.

That all would be amazing enough for this reader, but what makes it better yet is that when Vollmann is describing landscapes he is poetic, profound, and I would say, spiritually orientated in his quest, his open journey. Brave it is to do what he has done, and valorous to share his experiences in a heartfelt way. A long time ago I read an essay interview w/Louis Ferdinand Celine where he talked about a few writers he admired that came before him. He said of them that ‘They were made for it,’ meaning they were created to be writers. This would be perhaps the highest destiny.

Vollmann in my view is like that, is someone that is made for it, and he shows why in these pages. 

Riding Towards Everywhere is available here.

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