train hopping


What happened, briefly, is as follows. In Florida in 2002, when he was seventeen, Brodie hopped a train to go visit some friends. The train was going in the wrong direction, and so, like Sal Paradise making his first stab at hitching west in On the Road, Brodie ended up coming right back home. But this abortive excursion encouraged him to set out again and begin his real life on the rails. Over the next five years and fifty thousand miles, he took a ton of pictures of the people he met and the life he was living. At first he used a Polaroid that, depending on the account you read, was either found behind the seat of a car or given by a friend. When that camera’s film was discontinued, “the Polaroid Kidd”—as he’d become known on websites where he posted his pictures—switched to a 35-mm Nikon, the camera he used to take the photographs featured in A Period of Juvenile Prosperity. The pictures have the day-to-day intimacy and immediacy of a journal, but the journey they describe—the shared root helps—has a clear narrative, even if the route is irrelevant.

more from Geoff Dyer at Bookforum here.