Tuesday, September 16, 2008
Trail of Books
The funny thing about reading Travels with Lizbeth by Lars Eighner is that I remember seeing it on all the bookstore shelves when it first came out in the early 90s. I looked at it often. I read the front and back cover and ultimately decided not to buy it or read it.
In my last book of the week, Empire of Scrounge, the author cites Lars Eighner and Travels with Lizbeth several times and a fellow reader mentioned she had the book. So 15 years later, I was once again presented with the opportunity to read a memoir about a man who lives for three years on the street with his dog Lizbeth.
It is a stunning memoir about homelessness and hope. Lars tells his story with frankness and honesty and not much self pity. The most compelling part of all this is that he does have the opportunity to get out of his predicament once in a while but he refuses because he cannot part with his dog--his companion. Lizbeth, if not the centerpiece of this fascinating story, is almost its reason for being. The shadow of this simple and loyal animal streches large over the memoir.
Mr. Ehrman reflects often on the necessity of staying clear of the law--if only because it would mean that if he were arrested, his dog would be taken to the pound and probably destroyed. He could not let that happen to her.
His forays into the dumpster and his ability to create homes for himself in parks and public spaces are the most interesting part of this story. Also, I wept at the hair raising account of how Lizbeth was almost put to sleep because the narrator did not have the money to get her out of "animal prison".
Well worth a trip to the library to find this older gem. It was a lesson in how some books come back to greet us--even after 15 years.