Feb/Mar 2010

This Train Is Bound for Glory

David O'Neill


A born rambler, Justine Kurland has been traveling across America with a camera for the past decade. In 2004, when her son, Casper, was born, she took him along for the ride. Their camping van soon became crammed with toy trains; Casper's enthusiasm for locomotives was infectious, and Kurland's work began to explore real railways, as well as the train hoppers and hobos she met along the way. Like any parent, she also frequently aimed her camera at her child, as he toddled through the blighted and bountiful landscape of America's backwoods and slept in a cozy bed built into the van. In the picture above, Kurland finds Casper on the "porch" above the rear bumper, his head shyly turned away, legs crossed gracefully, fingers splayed on his knee—a modern wild boy of Aveyron. Named after a Woody Guthrie song, This Train Is Bound for Glory includes fifty photographs, as well as an introduction by the hobo at heart William T. Vollmann and a foreword by author and screenwriter Jonathan Raymond. It is the first title in the Ecstatic Peace Library, an imprint published by Sonic Youth's Thurston Moore.

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