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

Eighner, Lars

St. Martin's Griffin



Trade Paperback

320 Pages



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When Travels with Lizbeth was first published in 1993, it was proclaimed an instant classic. Lars Eighner’s account of his descent into homelessness and his adventures on the streets has moved, charmed, and amused generations of readers. As Lars wrote, “When I began writing this account I was living under a shower curtain in a stand of bamboo in a public park. I did not undertake to write about homelessness, but wrote what I knew, as an artist paints a still life, not because he is especially fond of fruit, but because the subject is readily at hand.” 

Containing the widely anthologized essay “On Dumpster Diving,” Travels with Lizbeth is a beautifully written account of one man's experience of homelessness, a story of physical survival, and the triumph of the artistic spirit in the face of enormous adversity. In his unique voice—dry, disciplined, poignant, comic—Eighner celebrates the companionship of his dog, Lizbeth, and recounts their ongoing struggle to survive on the streets of Austin, Texas, and hitchhiking along the highways to Southern California and back.


Praise for Travels with Lizbeth

"[A] compelling narrative . . . An elevated manner of address and a rich vocabulary at odds with his impoverished state and deadbeat friends make Mr. Eighner a quirky guide into the homeless condition as he plunges on, through Miracle Miles, desert flea markets, and dusty truck stops, surviving en route the complex architecture of highway access ramps, subzero temperatures, psychotic companions, and an amazing encounter with the Texas welfare system."—The Wall Street Journal

“The most eloquent description to date of what it is like to be homeless.”—San Diego Union-Tribune 

“If there's any justice in the world, [this book] should guarantee its author a roof over his head for the rest of his days.”—The New York Times Book Review

"Eighner's account of his life on the streets is great writing, factual and declarative like George Orwell's Down and Out in Paris and London, personal and affecting like The Diary of Anne Frank. And he is funny . . . I found myself remembering its visceral details in my dreams."—L.A. Style

"Lars Eighner has written a remarkable book, and introduced us to an unforgettably singular character—himself. His elegant, courtly language and wry sense of humor play a perfect counterpoint to the grubby misadventures he recounts. Comparisons to Defoe's Robinson Crusoe and Hamsun's Hunger—as well as, of course, Orwell and Ackerly—leap to mind. Eighner is a witty and informative commentator (he knows a lot ot odd, interesting stuff), and an astute, economical portraitist of various grifters. scroungers, pathological liars, and Good Samaritans who cross his path. This book will become a classic of down-and-out literature. But beyond that, Eighner belongs with the classical personal essayists, who can compel our attention on any subject, because of the idiosyncratic suppleness and sanity of his voice."—Phillip Lopate

"An unaffected, absorbing narrative. Eighner fills his pages with vivid descriptions, perceptive observations, humor, and a writing style that carries the reader easily and almost painlessly over troublesome issues."—Booklist

"Strongly recommended . . . His unique voice [is] part naive innocence, part eccentric fool. Remarkable."—Library Journal

"In spare, unsensational and often elegant prose, Eighner tells how it was possible for him to live from what he gleaned in Dumpsters . . . [He's] a clearheaded observer of the world."—Publishers Weekly

Reviews from Goodreads



Read an Excerpt

Austin to Tucson: Hitting the Road
Billy inelegantly brought his little black Scirocco about and drove back toward Austin. That car was Billy’s shibboleth; he never learned to pronounce its name although he was frequently corrected by parts dealers, his mechanic, and me. Never mind. In Billy’s mind it was a Porsche and that was the way he drove it.
There we were, Lizbeth the bitch and I, with a pile of gear I could carry only a few yards at a time, by the side of the road in what seemed to me to be a desolate area. I had not been to the desert yet.
Read the full excerpt


  • Eighner, Lars

  • Lars Eighner was born in Corpus Christi, Texas. In 1988 he and his dog Lizbeth became homeless, and their experiences over the following three years were recorded in Travels with Lizbeth, which became a New York Times Book Review Editor's Choice, and includes the often-cited essay "On Dumpster Diving." His other works include numerous story collections and a comic novel. He now lives in Austin with his partner.