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Book Data

ISBN: 9781603585903
Year Added to Catalog: 2014
Book Format: Paperback
Dimensions: 5.5 x 8.5
Number of Pages: 328
Book Publisher: Chelsea Green Publishing
Release Date: July 24, 2014
Web Product ID: 833

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A Unicyclist's Guide to America

by Mark Schimmoeller

Foreword by Janisse Ray

"Mark Schimmoeller's Slowspoke captures the multi-faceted culture and spirit of America in the early twenty-first century the way Zen and the Art of Motorcycle Maintenance revealed us to ourselves forty years ago. Schimmoeller has a gentle, honest, insightful voice, a Thoreauvian vision, and a gift for bringing to life the dozens of individualists he meets along his way, both on and off the grid. Slowspoke offers us a unique and hopeful look at who we really are and who we still have the potential to become. This is an important book: moving, deeply personal, and all kinds of fun to read."

Howard Frank Mosher, author of The Great Northern Express, Walking to Gatlinburg, and On Kingdom Mountain

"My speedometer says zero," a Missouri woman said, leaning toward the passenger window of her red Camaro, which she had slowed to a near stop. Unicyclist Mark Schimmoeller was surprised. After all, he had made it from North Carolina, traveling around a thousand miles at this speed.

Her message was the same as one he’d received from a Tennessee man yelling at him, "You ain’t going nowhere," only gentler in tone. He chose to be encouraged. From Missouri, Mark Schimmoeller unicycled on (still going zero) to northern Arizona, exploring these questions of speed, progress, and meaning.

Mark was twenty-­four then; he is forty­-six now, married and living in a small off-­the-­grid cabin in the Kentucky woods. Slowspoke: A Unicyclist’s Guide to America is told from the perspective of the present-­day homesteader. The adventures of Schimmoeller's youth are recalled when he encounters the emotional equivalent of a tractor­-trailer gust: the news that the beloved old woods near his house is about to be logged and developed. Mark begins an effort to save the woods and as he does so he retreats into stories that buffer him with happy endings. As a young man, his unicycle slowed his pace; now, thinking about it slows time for him, keeps the tall trees standing. As the narrative alternates between past and present, dream and reality, he looks with a fresh gaze at his Kentucky home, with the precise love of someone slated to give a eulogy.

People who have gone back to the land or wonder if they could, who have slowed down to experience life at a unicycle’s speed or who long to do so, who have fallen in love, who have treasured tall trees or mourned their loss, will find a voice in Slowspoke. Written with poise and humor, Slowspoke is for anyone who still leans against prevailing winds toward a better America and world.

About the Author

Mark Schimmoeller

Since graduating in 1989 with a BA in English from Transylvania University, Mark Schimmoeller has devoted himself to off-the-grid homesteading in Kentucky. He has also (other than journeying on a unicycle) completed a semester of an MFA program at Warren Wilson College; attended the Squaw Valley Poetry Workshop; published poems in journals and magazines such as Midwest Quarterly, Orion, and Northeast Corridor, essays in Home Power, Orion, and The Christian Science Monitor. He also has coordinated the Appalachia Science in the Public Interest (ASPI) program to promote solar cooking in Peru, Honduras, and Malawi and conducted sustainable living workshops in ...

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