Sunday, April 18, 2010

Land of The Lost Souls: My Life on the Streets by Cadillac Man (2009)

Cadillac Man is a homeless guy from Hell's Kitchen, and Land of the Lost Souls: My Life on the Streets (2009) is a memoir distilled from the journals that he has been keeping for the past thirteen years. In his book, Cadillac Man introduces us to his friends and his enemies, memorializes other street people who died on the street or just disappeared, and takes us back into his childhood and his "outsider" life with his wife and children and job and explains how he got to where he is today.

His book is moving, often funny, sometimes scary, and always filled with his personality. After reading it, I felt like he had been talking in my ear for a few days, and after I was done I missed that voice. The writing is at its best when reflecting on his past and current life, or when giving the reader a look at the procedures of homelessness (how to set up camp, strategies for canning, how to win a fight, where to get food), and at its worst when he peppers his stories with lots of dialogue, which is often written in the stilted way dialogue gets when you tell it later as a story. And since Cadillac Man is a storyteller, I guess I can't fault him for that.

At the end of the book I found out that some guys made a documentary about Cadillac Man [trailer here], and I think I'd like to see it. Most of all, I'd like an update on his life -- has he been in touch with his children at all? Did he ever hear anything else from Penny (a runaway that he fell in love with and then helped get back to her family)? Is he still living under the same viaduct?

This book gives an interesting perspective on a prevalent way of life and tells it in a compelling way. Definitely recommended.

[I got this book through the highly recommended LibraryThing Early Reviewers program.]

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