Lars Eighner, Who Wrote Eloquently of Being Homeless, Dies at 73

Lars Eighner, who vividly recounted his experiences with being homeless in “Travels With Lizbeth,” a e-book broadly thought to be one of many most interesting memoirs of current many years, died on Dec. 23 in Austin, Texas. He was 73.

Dori Weintraub, vice chairman of publicity at St. Martin’s Press, which revealed “Travels With Lizbeth” in 1993, mentioned St. Martin’s had realized of the demise solely just lately. No different particulars have been supplied. Mr. Eighner had been considerably reclusive in recent times.

Mr. Eighner (pronounced EYE-ner) had been working as an attendant at what he referred to as “the state lunatic asylum” in Austin and infrequently promoting erotic tales to homosexual magazines when, as he put it in his e-book, he resigned his job “below risk of being fired” and fell on laborious occasions. “Travels With Lizbeth” — Lizbeth was his canine — recounts the roughly three years Mr. Eighner spent homeless, starting within the late Nineteen Eighties, hitchhiking about and discovering meals the place he might, together with in different folks’s rubbish.

An essay he wrote whereas nonetheless homeless, “On Dumpster Diving,” discovered its technique to the literary journal The Threepenny Assessment, which revealed it in 1991.

“Fairly quite a few folks, not all of them the bohemian sort, are keen to brag that they discovered this or that piece within the trash,” Mr. Eighner wrote. “However consuming from Dumpsters is the factor that separates the dilettanti from the professionals. Consuming safely from the Dumpsters entails three ideas: utilizing the senses and customary sense to judge the situation of the discovered supplies, understanding the Dumpsters of a given space and checking them recurrently, and in search of all the time to reply the query ‘Why was this discarded?’”

The essay, which has usually been anthologized, garnered appreciable consideration and led to the publication of “Travels With Lizbeth.” Mr. Eighner wrote the e-book in suits and begins, usually engaged on a conveyable typewriter at a homosexual bar. Later, with an editor’s assist, he pared down his unique unwieldy manuscript.

The e-book drew huge discover, together with on the duvet of The New York Instances E-book Assessment.

“This e-book takes us into the profound depths of that different nation that lies throughout us on the streets,” Jonathan Raban wrote in that evaluation. “In lavish, affected person element, it recreates the grammar, standpoint and home financial system of the unhoused life, and if there’s any justice on this planet it ought to assure its writer a roof over his head for the remainder of his days.”

By the point the e-book was revealed, Mr. Eighner did certainly have a roof over his head once more, however by 1996 he had lapsed again into homelessness for a time. At his demise he and his husband, Cliff Hexamer, lived on a shoestring, typically in search of assistance on GoFundMe.

And though a comic book novel Mr. Eighner wrote within the Nineteen Eighties, “Pawn to Queen Four,” and an essay assortment referred to as “Homosexual Cosmos” have been revealed in 1995, his literary output dried up.

“I knew from the start that the e-book was sui generis,” Mr. Eighner wrote in an afterword to a 2013 version of “Travels With Lizbeth,” “and I’ve no argument with those that desire to name it a fluke. At any fee, in contrast to somebody who will get caught up in being the outsider taste of the month, I knew this e-book couldn’t result in a sequel or a sequence.”

Laurence Vail Eighner was born on Nov. 25, 1948, in Corpus Christi, Texas, to Lawrence and Alice Elizabeth (Vail) Eighner. He grew up in Houston, graduating from highschool there after which finding out at Rice College and the College of Texas. He informed The Houston Chronicle in 1993 {that a} mixture of migraine complications and a falling-out along with his household over his sexual orientation had prevented him from ending his diploma.

Within the Nineteen Seventies he labored at a disaster middle for folks with drug or emotional issues. In 1987 he was working on the Austin State Hospital when, in his telling, a dispute with a supervisor led him to stop, beginning him on the trail to homelessness.

He sought each private and non-private help, he wrote in his e-book, however was turned away for one motive or one other — together with, he mentioned, by the Roman Catholic Church.

“There I used to be informed plainly that having uncared for to provide youngsters I couldn’t assist, I used to be disqualified for any profit,” he wrote, a line that typifies the wry contact that permeates the e-book.

As he started writing about his experiences, Steven Saylor, an editor and novelist who had labored at a homosexual journal that had revealed Mr. Eighner’s work, served because the conduit that received “On Dumpster Diving” and different fragments revealed.

“After I received all the way down to doing this e-book, I had a 750-page manuscript that lined this timeframe,” Mr. Eighner informed The Austin American-Statesman in 1993. “There was a couple of e-book there. As soon as I knew that what they needed was the homeless e-book, all I needed to do was decide the nice components.”

Regardless of that e-book’s success, by 1998 Mr. Eighner was on the verge of homelessness once more. Some writers within the Austin space pitched in and stored him off the streets.

“Life remains to be not fairly secure sufficient for me to really feel snug for such a serious endeavor as to jot down a novel,” he informed The Instances again then. “It’s nonetheless a matter of nickels and dimes for macaroni and cheese.”

In “Travels With Lizbeth,” he wrote of an necessary determine in his life he referred to as Clint. That was Cliff Hexamer, whom Mr. Eighner married in 2015, taking Hexamer as his authorized title. Mr. Hexamer survives him.

In 2019, a panel of e-book critics for The Instances named “Travels With Lizbeth” one of the 50 best memoirs of the final 50 years.

The Instances talked with Mr. Eighner in 1999 concerning the variations between being homeless and having a house, and about his frame of mind.

“I’m just about continuously in terror of going again on the streets,” he mentioned. “It’s like being on a glass staircase. Regardless of how far up I get, after I look down, I see all the way in which to the underside.”

https://www.nytimes.com/2022/02/11/books/lars-eighner-dead.html Lars Eighner, Who Wrote Eloquently of Being Homeless, Dies at 73

Fry Electronics Team

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