neděle 23. srpna 2009

On Dumpster Diving

Lars Eighner

A freelance writer living in Austin, Lars Eighner (b. 1948) was born in Corpus Christi, Texas and attended the University of Texas from 1966 to 1969. He was an attendant ward worker at the Austin State Hospital from 1980 to 1987 and worked off and on for a drug crisis program and as a freelance writer.

Eighner lived on the streets for several years, and his homeless experiences are recalled in Travels with Lizbeth (1993), which became a best seller and from which "Dumpster Diving" is excerpted. "Dumpster Diving" was first anthologized in The Pushcart Prize Best of the Small Presses in 1992. Among Eighner's other works are Elements of Arousal (1994), advice to would-be authors of gay erotica; a novel, Pawn to Queen Four (1995); and a collection of essays, Gay Cosmos (1995).

Travels started as a series of letters to his friends describing life on the street. His sentence style has been compared to the style of the nineteenth-century English novel.

Long before I began Dumpster diving I was impressed with Dumpsters, enough so that I wrote the Merriam-Webster research service to discover what I could about the word Dumpster. I learned from them that it is a proprietary word belonging to the Dempster Dumpster company. Since then I have dutifully capitalized the word, although it was lowercased in almost all the citations Merriam-Webster photocopied for me. Dempster's word is too apt. I have never heard these things called anything but Dumpsters. I do not know anyone who knows the generic name for these objects. From time to time I have heard a wino or hobo give some corrupted credit to the original and call them Dipsy Dumpsters.

I began Dumpster diving about a year before I became homeless.

I prefer the word scavenging and use the word scrounging when I mean to be obscure. I have heard people, evidently meaning to be polite, use the word foraging, but I prefer to reserve that word for gathering nuts and berries and such, which I do also according to the season and the opportunity. Dumpster diving seems to me to be a little too cute and, in my case, inaccurate because I lack the athletic ability to lower myself into the Dumpsters as the true divers do, much to their increased profit.

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