The rolling of the train.
That’s the sound that is music to Ed Davis’ ears.
It’s also a sound that reminds Davis of growing up – and his own time riding the rails across the United States.
“Traveling by train is a unique way of seeing the country,” Davis says. “There’s no better way to see America than through the windows of a train. You see life that is unvarnished and it’s captivating.”
Davis is on the 15-city, 30-day, 6,500-mile “The Great American Whistle Stop Book Tour,” which brings the author to Albuquerque on Sunday, April 24 and Monday, April 25.
Davis is on the tour to support his novel, “The Last Professional.”
“I wanted to go on an old-school book tour,” he says. “Not many authors do it that way, much less by train.”
The first stop will be from 1-4 p.m. Sunday, April 24, at the Wheels Museum, 1100 Second St. SW. The organizers are hosting “Travel Along the Rails HOBO Event,” which is complete with book presentation, silent film, lunch and a costume contest. The event is $20 and reservations are required at 505-243-6269 or email firstname.lastname@example.org or email@example.com.
Davis will then participate in a book talk/signing at Treasure House Books, 2012 South Plaza NW in Old Town from 1:30-3:30 p.m. Monday, April 25. This event is free and open to the public.
“The Last Professional” follows Lynden Hoover 15 years after suffering through a childhood trauma that still haunts him. Hoover gets help from The Duke, an old hobo who calls America’s landscape his home and adheres to a time-honored code. Bonds are formed, and secrets exposed as The Duke flees Short Arm, his relentless and brutal nemesis.
The Duke mentors Lynden on life on the tracks, using the vibrant language of the boxcar life gleaned from years riding across great swaths of country. With the help of the trusted “knights of the road,” Lynden and The Duke head to a harrowing climax with Short Arm where generations collide, and lives hang in the balance.
It took Davis 40 years to write the novel.
“I began it four decades ago and put it on the back burner after my wife and I began a family,” he says. “I wouldn’t change it at all.”
The novel was inspired by Davis’ life on the rails.
While growing up, Davis was nomadic, often found hopping box cars and freight trains – from Reno to Vancouver, through the Sierras and up and down the Golden State.
As a young man he lived on $5 a day, worked as a carny and even slept under the same bridge Jack Kerouac once did. Living as a part-time hobo, he and his friends – the “knights of the road” – experienced a world that no longer exists. Those treks across the country eventually led Davis to become a successful business owner, a champion discus thrower, author and a loving husband to his wife, Jan, who on occasion had even hopped the trains with him.
“It’s been an incredible journey for me,” Davis says. “The crazy thing is trains are the biggest rolling machines on the face of the earth. Yet, they are almost invisible. They can travel places cars can’t. I’ll finish the trip back in my hometown in California.”