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"Hobo is an autobiographical love letter to a modern west. Cotton's depiction of a beautiful, largely unknown American landscape and of life on the tracks, riddled with priceless observations from a group of tramps, makes Hobo akin to the works of romantic wanderlust of the tramping twentieth-century Beats."

Seattle Weekly

"Think of all the great literary 'hobos' of the American past - Whitman, London, Guthrie, Kerouac, and even Springsteen - and you'll have an idea of the wild, cocky charm that Eddy Joe Cotton offers. This is not history in the strict sense. Rather , this is one man's idiosyncratic journey into the heart of the hobo mystique."

Chicago Tribune

A Young Man's Thoughts on Trains and Tramping in America
Eddy Joe Cotton

You can buy my book here.

With an arresting mix of homespun wisdom, gritty realism, and poignant self-examination, and set against the backdrop of a young man’s coming of age, Hobo is a modern examination of one of America’s oldest and most revered folk heroes.

A free spirit, Cotton's mother set out on her own when her son was only two years old. Left behind, the tight family unit of father and son grew up to be more like brothers than parent and child. Such an intense relationship created struggles and pain—but also a form of independence that gave both men the mettle to face life alone when necessary. When Cotton was nineteen, he left behind his “hippie on a Harley” father in a brickyard on a cold winter day in Denver, Colorado, and set out with three things he knew he could rely on: strong boots, a warm coat, and a will to roam.

He took off down the road at sunset with his thumb out and a keen desire to see the world on his own terms. His goal was to end up in Mexico. It had always been his father’s mecca of personal freedom and absolute beauty, and so it became his, too. When Cotton jumped his first train, he was forever changed. His passion for the rails and the hobo way of life transformed him into a young hobo-in-training.

Crisscrossing the countryside with a motley band of companions and mentors, Eddy Joe learns both the dark and the beautiful sides of life on the road. Always headed vaguely toward Mexico, Eddy Joe slowly realizes that the experience of the journey is far more important than the thrill of reaching the destination.

Hobo is a celebration of the cultural and historical significance of the hobo in American society. It’s also the story of what Eddy Joe learned on the rails, and of the fascinating, worldly-wise men who became his teachers. Eddy Joe Cotton paints a multilayered portrait of this strangely enduring lifestyle—of the men who ride the trains, the tricks of the trade, the vocabulary they use, the places they camp, the train yards they avoid, the gear they are sure to carry, and the stories and lessons each one imparts. Told in Eddy Joe’s infectious and original voice, Hobo is a heartfelt exploration of a fascinating subculture, and of one man’s place in a world that has all but been forgotten.

Cotton was traipsed across the country, exposed to communes, hippies, merchant marines, hitchhikers,gypsies, and magic mushrooms...the early most poignant memories which are captured in his absorbing, highly sympathetic memoir, Hobo.

SF Weekly

Cotton's chapters on his ill-fated romance with a beautiful speed freak are nothing short of touching. His clearly written, fast paced brushes with death and dismemberment powerfully capture the downside of 'the road' and of the desperate men who call it home. Hobo's look at a world of rail maps, catchphrases, and culture gives faces to the homeless and fills the imagination with what might be inside those passing freight cars.

Willamette Week

Hobo is one of the most electric books I've read in years."

Dave Eggers, author of A Heart Breaking Work of Staggering Genius

“Eddy Joe Cotton takes us on a breezy, delightful ride through parts of our country and our culture we have never known. His style is refreshing and his humor infectious.”

Howard Zinn, author of A People’s History of the United States

"An engaging exposition of hobo wisdom."

Boston Herald

"Hobo is a song straight from the heart. Kid runs away from home questing for freedom, hops freights, keeps notes on napkins, conquers despair by writing this very book about it. Although seven years later Eddy Joe still rides the rails full time or so I hear, this book is the tale of his maiden three weeks. Drenched in desert color, never over-literate, this is the soaring, rumbling, roaring debut of a someday grand old man of American Letters. If he lives. Big "if".

Robert Hunter, songwriter for the Grateful Dead

"An always passionate narrative...an amalgam of autobiography, travelogue, and speculation that offers an unabashed homage to the indigenous American hobo. There's no doubting the authenticity of Cotton's commitment to an unfettered life. The book is richly veined with traditional hobo lore, outlaws, tramps, Las Vegas freaks... Cotton's characters and their lives have an unimpeachable ring of truth."

Las Vegas Mercury

“Hobo is a whistling night train of an American masterpiece, a wondrous achievement, Iggy Pop jackknifed into the mythic mosh pit of Herman Melville, Woody Guthrie, and Ernest Hemingway. Eddy Joe Cotton’s mesmerizing passion for the romance of roadside diners, hobo jungles, and clattering boxcars will make your heart soar.”

Alan Kaufman, editor of The American Bible of Outlaw Poetry

“Hobo is the story of a modern-day vision quest, not of forests but of rails and hobo jungles. It is a story told with simple, straightforward clarity and honesty. And, like all vision seekers, Eddy Joe Cotton finds himself.”

Hubert Selby, Jr., author of Last Exit to Brooklyn and Requiem for a Dream