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Travels with Lizbeth: Three Years on the Road and on the Streets

3.74  ·  Rating details ·  449 Ratings  ·  70 Reviews
"Remarkable . . . irresistibly funny." The New Yorker
The true story of a modern Robinson Crusoe and Huckleberry Finn, a homeless man and his erstwhile companion, a dog named Lizbeth, and their unbelievable, funny and poignant adventures on the road and on the streets.
Paperback, 292 pages
Published September 27th 1994 by Ballantine Books (first published September 27th 1993)
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Posted at Shelf Inflicted

Travels With Lizbeth is a candid and thoughtful chronicle of Lars Eighner's three years of homelessness. The author writes very eloquently and with a sense of humor about his friendships, traveling companions, jobs, and hardships. He is a keen observer of people and places and the love he has for his dog, Lizbeth, is heartwarming. Eighner sheds light on the problems that still exist today within the U.S. medical and mental health care systems and debunks common myths abo
Oct 28, 2011 rated it really liked it
Hemingway said in a letter that when prose is magical, as it can be in Travels With Lizbeth, that the reader is never sure how it's done. You can reread it all you want and you will never quite know how that particular sequence of words was able to transcend the sum of its parts. The work thus becomes inimitable. That's the case here. 

So engaging are the travels of Lars Eighner and his dog, Lisbeth, that I developed an anxiety-ridden hyperawareness of the dangers they constantly ran, such as goo
Jun 05, 2010 rated it it was amazing
Err...I wrote it.
Jun 03, 2017 rated it liked it
Adventurous, heartwarming and heartbreaking.

If you wish to understand homelessness, this is one of the books you should read, or if you just like a good adventure, you would find this an interesting read, too, if you can even call it an adventure. Maybe it is just a book on survival, but it is also a dog story, and who doesn’t like a good dog story with a happy ending?

It reminded me somewhat of “On the Road” by Jack Kerouac, but Lars doesn’t steal, do drugs, or drink alcohol, but some of his fri
Aug 05, 2008 rated it really liked it
A gripping piece of nonfiction. It's interesting (but not unsatisfying) that Eighner never alludes to how he became homeless. I surmise he walked away from a position working in a mental health facility and a social services position working with PWAs. They are high burnout careers, so that's not too shocking, but he seems to associate with a real counterculture contingent (ex-cons, ex-hippies, hardcore alcoholics) without wholly being part of any group. He's a true independent spirit.

I really
Mar 20, 2011 rated it really liked it
Lars Eighner has "an education in ethnic studies" but did not finish college; in the late 1980s, in his late 30s, he worked at "a state lunatic asylum" in Austin and supplemented his income by writing erotic short stories for gay magazines. He did not have a family but did have a dog he loved as his own child. After a conflict with the hospital management, he resigned under the threat of firing; one year later he was evicted from his apartment, and became homeless. He could not get unemployment ...more
Jun 28, 2014 rated it really liked it
I remember when this book came out. Picked up a used copy somewhere along the line but never read it. Was curious to see how things have changed in the last 20 years. Not so much. We still hate homeless people. We still think it's their own moral failing. Of course, when we go back to our comfy homes we don't see someone like Lars working. Someone was just telling me about a camp that was just cleared. When one of those living there came back and saw it he asked where he was supposed to go. You ...more
Jun 02, 2017 rated it really liked it
This was, especially for me, five years new to Austin an interesting read showing the changes of the area in just the past 10-30 years or so. Mr Eighner has an extensive vocabulary, with an imaginative grasp of the circumstances around us.
Mar 14, 2018 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
3.5 stars
Jan 14, 2009 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
“A homeless life has no storyline. It is a pointless circular rambling about the stage that can be brought t happy conclusion only by a dues ex machina,” writes Lars Eighner.

Heartfelt story about three years on the road and streets with the author and his dog Lizbeth. They were both homeless at the time.

“Sometimes, especially when the rains had come and gone through the night many times and I had packed our gear up and led Lizbeth to some slight shelter and the rain had stopped and we had return
Jul 23, 2007 rated it it was amazing
In Travels With Lizbeth, Lars Eighner chronicles his several years as a homeless man with his dog, Lizbeth, in the southwestern states (Austin, Texas and Los Angeles, California, and the hitchhiking adventures between the two). I found it to be an insightful and, at times, surprising look at the condition of being homeless. It is easy to make assumptions about the whole of the homeless condition and those who live it, but Eighner in many ways defies these assumptions. An educated writer who does ...more
J.D. Romann
Mar 19, 2014 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
One of the few books I've kept on my shelf, for two decades now, despite two cross-country moves. So pleased to see a 20th anniversary re-release of this moving memoir that stuck with me all these years, metaphorically and literally.
Nov 30, 2010 rated it it was ok
I did not like this book. I thought the author was extremely irresponsible sexually and also with his dog. Dogs should never be homeless.
Dec 29, 2017 rated it really liked it
This rating is about a 3.7.

I read this book several years after it had been reissued with an updating chapter in 2013. Although the three years of homelessness that is written about occurred over 25 years ago, in a way most of the events are timeless and can be related to today. As the author makes clear, this is not a study of homelessness or a view of it in general, but is an accounting about his experiences and perspectives. The book gives one much to ponder.

The writing to me was somewhat st
Nov 15, 2017 rated it really liked it
Shelves: ebook, ibooks
Among the many pleasures of reading books is the ability to experience lives and worlds the reader probably will never experience for real. This book is presents one such world - that of the homeless person. Eighner, living on the edge financially, loses his job and ends up with no means of support. He and his dog, Lizbeth, live homeless for several years and survive. While some of the chapters are a bit too detailed and some of Eighner’s choices may be questionable, he tells those of us lucky e ...more
Jun 29, 2017 rated it it was amazing
This is one of the great American autobiographies. 'Who touches this book touches a man,' as Walt Whitman said. One also touches a country, as I can say after having lived out some of the scenes and levels of being described in the book. It is the truth for once, the truth of a time and place which will soon be scraped clean and sold again and again. And will come back. Especially the glass staircase....
Sep 14, 2017 rated it it was amazing
A very compelling book--hard to put down. He never whines, but simply relates his experience of absolute poverty and the struggle to keep himself and his dog alive. I laughed many times, but I also got angry and frustrated along with him at the ridiculous illogic of the alleged "social welfare" system. He has a pleasing style and a depth of writerly determination.
Dec 09, 2017 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Well worth the read, most unique

Provided a new perspective on understanding homelessness and helped eliminate stereotypes one has of individuals who very unfortunately are in the circumstance
Jun 28, 2017 rated it liked it
Shelves: memoir, non-fiction
An amazing story, but poorly written. I guess I really am a language snob.
Nov 02, 2017 rated it liked it
Shelves: for-university
Actual Rating: 3.5
Cathy Hildreth
May 16, 2018 rated it really liked it
A very insightful and candid look at homelessness and his powerful love for his dog. Recommended read!
Aug 26, 2017 rated it it was amazing
Very much enjoyed this book
Dec 26, 2017 rated it really liked it
Shelves: memoir
A pellucid and harrowing account of being homeless. I held my breath countless times. Exceedingly well written.
Apr 22, 2013 rated it really liked it
I first learned about Lars Eighner when I was in college, over 10 years ago. In my creative nonfiction writing class, we read his piece "On Dumpster Diving," which appears in this book. That piece really stuck with me, and for years I would remember its details, such as how people could easily live off of the leavings of rich college students, or how to discern if tossed food was good enough to eat- particularly his theory that if it you look at an item such as a hunk of cheese and see a little ...more
Bonnie Brody
Mar 07, 2012 rated it really liked it
This is an entertaining memoir of Lars Eighner's three years of mixed homelessness and hitch-hiking with his dog, Lizbeth. Mr. Eighner has a way of capturing the true craziness and Catch-22's of our welfare system. His characterizations, internal reflection and his take on the events around him are eccentric and unique.

One of his takes on the Texas welfare system is as follows. It had me in stitches:

"In Texas, a person can not qualify for food stamps unless he or she does not really need them. A
Aug 16, 2014 rated it it was ok
Recommended to Joan by: required for school
Shelves: owned
I wanted to like this book.

I feel bad saying a memoir is boring, but...

A review says Eighner's style is "simple," which it is. Far too simple to hold my interest, personally.

I'm no prude, nor am I at all homophobic, but I would have liked fewer descriptions of his sex life. Who he slept with while he was homeless is probably the last thing I wanted to know about. Perhaps the reason I was made uncomfortable by sex mentions was because I couldn't stop thinking about previous things he had said ab
Jan 31, 2012 rated it it was ok
Shelves: nonfiction
Having taught "On Dumpster Diving" in many an English 101, I had to read the rest of this book. I wanted badly to like it. It's rare to get an account of homelessness, and having done a little traveling of the down and out sort, I wanted to see what Eighner's take was.

That said, I found his prose ridiculously stilted and hard to read. It created such a distance that I had a hard time really feeling for Eighner. Second, though I don't doubt for a minute that a person can end up homeless even whil
Dave Golombek
May 12, 2009 rated it it was amazing
Lars is a remarkable writer, and his novel covers a remarkable time period in his life and that of his dog, Lizbeth. He was homeless for three years, unable to find work and not qualified for public assistance. He lived in Austin and Los Angeles and writes about a side of both cities that most never see. Unlike many of his companions on the streets, he was neither alcoholic nor mentally disturbed, and his writings reflect this clear-eyed view of the world surrounding him. I'm sure that Lars can' ...more
Aug 25, 2013 rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
This was a re-read from many years ago, as I wanted to see how it compared to Walden on Wheels. I must have loved it the first time around, as I had saved the book. This time around is a "like." I don't know why --- maybe I just preferred Walden. Or maybe it's too many books in a row on the same topic. But Eighner writes very well; and although I could have done without the details of his sexual encounters, it's interesting to learn how he survived three years of homelessness with neither steali ...more
Feb 09, 2011 rated it liked it
Shelves: for-fun
This book was about a homeless, gay man and his dog trying to survive. He maintains that it is impossible to get government help if you actually need it, and gives several examples of times that he has tried. I really hope things have changed.

As a Conservative, I found a lot of the information to be vindicating as it shows how useless it is to fund government programs. As a person I found it sad. Eighner is an intelligent writer, and I learned a lot about Dumpster diving, hitchhiking, and more.

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