Metroliner by Toby Thompson

Metroliner, by Toby Thompson
An essential companion to Riding the Rough String, his previous collection of reportage, personal essays, and profiles, Metroliner explores the two poles of Toby Thompson’s life on the East Coast. For more than forty years, he has ridden the rails between Washington, DC and New York, capturing not only the sensibilities of these two cities but the tenor of his time as well. From the Smithsonian to the secret fishing spots of Manhattan, from profiles of Norman Mailer and Jackie Gleason to the White House press corps, Metroliner represents a career’s worth of reportage from one of America’s most accomplished writers.

Book Information

Dimensions: 6 x 9
Page Count: 378
Price: $19.95 Paperback, $9.99 Ebook

About Toby Thompson

Toby Thompson is the author of four previous books, including Positively Main Street: Bob Dylan’s Minnesota, and Riding the Rough String: Reflections on the American West. He has written for publications as diverse as Vanity Fair, Esquire, Rolling Stone, Men’s Journal, Playboy, Outside, Big Sky Journal, and The New York Times. He teaches in the Creative Writing program at Penn State, and lives in Cabin John, Maryland and Livingston, Montana.


“An intrepid tripper in the Merry Prankster sense, and an urban Thoreau.”
— Tom Wolfe

“A first-rate collection, impressively diverse and vastly enjoyable.”
— Carl Hiaasen

“…graceful and entertaining, to say nothing of [the] energetic reporting…”
­— Tom Brokaw

Author Interview

Download the PDF Here


Toby ThompsonMetroliner was a sleek, steel and plastic tube that hurtled through Baltimore and Philadelphia as if terrified to stop. Its contrast in modernity to the Pennsylvania Railroad trains I rode with my mother, during the 1940s and 1950s, with starched tablecloths in their formal dining cars and dignified porters who sold candy and magazines at one’s seat, was stark. But I wrote of my uncle’s pioneering in 1950s television, and his work with Your Hit Parade. For Vanity Fair I profiled writers Tom Wolfe, Norman Mailer, and Carl Bernstein; for Rolling Stone the television anchor Tom Brokaw, and for American Film Jackie Gleason; for Outside I profiled a striped-bass fisherman, Guy DeBlasio, who at night stalked Manhattan’s rotted piers, where he was threatened by street gangs, had his rods stolen, and was thrown into the Hudson. I moved to New York, a half-block from Central Park, and for Outside wrote about that patch of urban wilderness. I labored at other stories and book-length projects, but the core pieces are presented here.

Metroliner discontinued service on October 27, 2006 and was replaced by the Acela, a faster, more efficient train. That same month—nearly to the day—I left New York City and, with a summer house in Montana, moved home to Washington. A circle had been squared, the inner city gentrified…

— Toby Thompson
From his Introduction