In the 1990s, a contract with Spin magazine obliged Shepard to ride the rails.
He found contemporary train tramps different from the hoboes of legend. Seldom
really homeless or impoverished, they were antisocial dropouts, lazy and
substance abusing. Frequent victims of law enforcers and violent fellow tramps,
they were hardly easygoing. This book contains the long version of the Spin
piece and two stories. "Jailbait" is an edgy 22-pager about the liaison between
Madcat, a screw-top wine drinker who ran after beating up the cop who was his
wife's back-door man, and a teenage girl riding the rails for the first time.
"Over Yonder" is a novella about a drunken tramp who hops a black train that
carries him to a place beyond this world — but not at the end of all the lines,
which he may be approaching at the story's end. The novella is Shepard's forte,
and this [is a] guardedly optimistic yarn. . . .
— Ray Olson
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