Ramblin’ Boy: The Letters of Steve Hoyt
Ecodesigns Northwest Publishers, 2016
In a unique narrative composed of letters, back stories, and photographs, Daniel Leen captures the wandering spirit of the 1960s and ’70s by drawing on a series of touching, humorous, and thoughtful correspondences exchanged between childhood friends.
The main voice belongs to Steve Hoyt, an aspiring polymath and free spirit with an unquenchable thirst for adventure. He waxes poetic about hopping trains, nature, the fishing industry, cultural shifts, literature, and the open road, while Dan recounts his mixed experiences with “four walls education” (Steve’s term) as a Beloit Plan alumnus. There’s a visceral poignancy to this collection; times and ideals gone by are captured in the briefest of asides, extinct scenes rendered to life again with sketches. But it’s the authenticity of the voices—largely unedited, speaking of the day-to-day trivia of their lives just as often as their lofty dreams—that gives the story its heart.