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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: August 1, 2014
Web Product ID: 833

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A Unicyclist's Guide to America

by Mark Schimmoeller

Foreword by Janisse Ray

Reviews, Interviews, & Articles

  • "A man stands naked in the cold air of a winter’s morning. Because he has to? No, because he wants to. He savors the anticipation of a warm-water outdoor bath near his home. He’s there “…to feel the heat of the water and more to the point, to feel the heat of the water after being cold.” This anticipatory streak in Schimmoeller is his defining characteristic, the one that helped him to unicycle his way across the USA in 1992. Though there is plenty about the physical journey, the book is less about that than it is him expostulating on life generally, especially the one he has built with his wife living off the grid in rural Kentucky. He darts back and forth through time, managing to charm the hell out of readers the whole way. With liberal amounts of verbiage and a winning disregard for moving his story forward, Schimmoeller’s story meanders exactly as a pleasant, cool stream would: seeking its own level, going at its own pace, beholden only to itself—and exuberantly charming in that freedom. After a co-Valedictorian high school career (but no dates with girls), the author majored in English and spent some unhappy time working for a NYC magazine. He gradually came to the idea that, instead, he would let life rip. He’d “…put the backpack on, strap the canteen over me, and launch myself on the unicycle.” VERDICT Homesteaders, independent thinkers, off-the-gridders, slowpokes of the world, and those who love dudes like us—unite! We have found our superhero/poet laureate!"

    Library Journal
  • "Schimmoeller’s thought-provoking memoir, his debut, cuts between his 1992 unicycle trip from North Carolina to Arizona and his current life as a homesteader in Kentucky.

    These rather unorthodox parallel tracks—unicycling thousands of miles and living off the grid with his wife, Jennifer, growing their own food without city services—are set forth in the book’s first pages, with a series of flashbacks and reminiscences that outlines just how those circumstances came to be. There’s no simple answer for why the author decided to embark upon his unicycle trip; maybe it related to him being a slow, quiet person in a loud, fast world. He left a prestigious but stifling magazine internship in New York, knowing he didn’t belong there but not having any sense of what he was meant to do. His skills consisted mostly of knowing how to ride a unicycle, build a solar cooker and write. Perhaps, he thought, he could pedal across the country and author a guidebook, A Unicyclist’s Guide to America. Though the guidebook as conceptualized never came to be, the trip happened. With a gentle, meandering style that evokes the twists, turns and backtracking of unicycling, the memoir captures Schimmoeller’s perceptive observations of a largely unseen, back-roads America. He also lovingly writes of his home in Kentucky, his otherwise spare prose blossoming into lavish descriptions of the local fauna, which changes with the seasons. To the degree that there’s a central conflict in the memoir, it relates to the couple’s efforts to protect their acreage—which includes rare, reverently described old-growth forests—from development and thus preserve a corner of the world in which slow-paced, soft-spoken people can thrive. The book will remind readers of other homesteading narratives, such as Barbara Kingsolver’s Animal, Vegetable, Miracle (2007). In some ways, it also transcends personal history, like a modern-day Pilgrim’s Progress: one man, alone on a road, seeking redemption and ultimately finding it.

    Not just for unicyclists, Schimmoeller’s memoir is beautifully written and often funny; a real find."

    Kirkus Reviews
  • "Sumptuous language and a disarming gentleness propel this profoundly simple, funny, and sincere memoir... The author's story of finding a way to live in the world on his own terms is told simultaneously with that of his attempts to save old-growth forest... "It doesn't make a difference one way or the other if I take a break," he tells a stranger who questions the intensely slow pace of his mode of transport--an explanation that speaks to the author's quest to find respite in a troubled world. "

    Publishers' Weekly, starred review
  • Courier Journal: Compelling cross country unicycle journey leads to life off the grid
  • Riding a unicycle cross-country or living off grid, author doesn't like being rushed

Price: $17.95
Format: Paperback
Status: Available to Ship
Ships: Next day

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