Chelsea Green Publishing


Pages:328 pages
Size: 5.5 x 8.5 inch
Publisher:Chelsea Green Publishing
Paperback: 9781603585903
Pub. Date August 08, 2014


A Unicyclist's Guide to America

Availability: In Stock


Available Date:
August 08, 2014


Why a unicycle? Why a cross-country trip? Why leave a prominent New York magazine and return to the simple life in Kentucky?

Reminiscent of classic literary travelogues, Mark Schimmoeller’s Slowspoke: A Unicyclist’s Guide to America takes readers on an inward, emotional journey as he inches across landscapes and communities from North Carolina to Arizona.

Schimmoeller became inspired by his unicycle as an adolescent. It taught him that rushing—whether down the driveway or toward adulthood—would cause a fall, and so, instead of accepting the speeding, straight line that de-fines modern American life, he adopted his single wheel’s wayward rhythms.

Written with poise and humor, Slowspoke is more than a cross-country trip on a unicycle; it’s a meditation on a playful, recalcitrant slowness that is increasingly rare in a culture obsessed with acceleration. At times ach-ing and other times joyful, Schimmoeller intersperses recollections of his journey with vignettes of his present-day, off-the-grid homesteading with his wife in Kentucky and their efforts to save an old-growth forest.

Schimmoeller’s personal journey will resonate with anyone who has slowed down to experience life at a unicycle’s speed or who longs to do so, who has fallen in love or searched for it, or who has treasured tall trees or mourned their loss.

Slowspoke: A Unicyclist's Guide to America is also available as an audio book! Browse and download the book here >>


Library Journal-

"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!”

“This is a beautiful book, lushly written and elegantly rendered. In these pages, lines, and gorgeous human moments, we are transported to what the future must include.”--Nikky Finney, author, Head Off & Split, 2011 National Book Award winner

“In the quest for growth, we have come to undermine the very meaning of life. Someone needs to point a new way. People like Mark Schimmoeller do that for us. Slowspoke: A Unicyclist’s Guide to America is as wise as it is entertaining.”--Colin Beavan, author, No Impact Man

Kirkus Reviews-
“The book will remind readers of other homesteading narratives, such as Barbara Kingsolver’s Animal, Vegetable, Miracle... 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.”

“This is just the kind of epic we need right now—humble, sweet, and very deep indeed. As good a travel story—within and without—as you’ll read anytime soon!”--Bill McKibben, author of New York Times bestseller Eaarth

"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

Publishers Weekly, starred review-
"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."


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 Kentucky and at the Midwest Renewable Energy Fair in Wisconsin.


Dreaming of Lions

Dreaming of Lions

By Elizabeth Marshall Thomas

Elizabeth Marshall Thomas has spent a lifetime observing other creatures and other cultures, from her own backyard to the African savannah. Her books have transported millions of readers into the hidden lives of animals—from dogs and cats to deer and lions. She’s chronicled the daily lives of African tribes, and even imagined the lives of prehistoric humans.  She illuminates unknown worlds like no other. Now, she opens the doors to her own.

Dreaming of Lions traces Thomas’s life from her earliest days, including when, as a young woman in the 1950s, she and her family packed up and left for the Kalahari Desert to study the Ju/Wa Bushmen. The world’s understanding of African tribal cultures has never been the same since. Nor has Thomas, as the experience taught her not only how to observe, but also how to navigate in male-dominated fields like anthropology and animal science and do what she cared about most: spending time with animals and people in wild places, and relishing the people and animals around her at home.

Readers join Thomas as she returns to Africa, after college and marriage, with her two young children, ending up in the turmoil leading to Idi Amin’s bloody coup. She invites us into her family life, her writing, and her fascination with animals—from elephants in Namibia, to dogs in her kitchen, or cougars outside her New England farmhouse. She also recounts her personal struggles, writing about her own life with the same kind of fierce honesty that she applies to the world around her, and delivering a memoir that not only shares tremendous insights, but also provides tremendous inspiration.

Dreaming of Lions, originally published in hardcover as A Million Years With You, is slightly updated and includes a powerful new afterword by the author.

Available in: Paperback

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Dreaming of Lions

Elizabeth Marshall Thomas

Paperback $17.95

Out on a Limb

Out on a Limb

By Benjamin Kilham

In Out on a Limb, Ben Kilham invites us into the world he has come to know best: the world of black bears. 

For decades, Kilham has studied wild black bears in a vast tract of Northern New Hampshire woodlands. At times, he has also taken in orphaned infants—feeding them, walking them through the forest for months to help them decipher their natural world, and eventually reintroducing them back into the wild. Once free, the orphaned bears still regard him as their mother. And one of these bears, now a 17-year-old female, has given him extraordinary access to her daily life, opening a rare window into how she and the wild bears she lives among carry out their daily lives, raise their young, and communicate.

Witnessing this world has led to some remarkable discoveries.  For years, scientists have considered black bears to be mostly solitary.  Kilham's observations, though, reveal the extraordinary interactions wild bears have with each other. They form friendships and alliances; abide by a code of conduct that keeps their world orderly; and when their own food supplies are ample, they even help out other bears in need.  

Could these cooperative behaviors, he asks, mimic behavior that existed in the animal that became human?  In watching bears, do we see our earliest forms of communications unfold? 

Kilham's dyslexia once barred him from getting an advanced academic degree, securing funding for his research, and publishing his observations in the scientific literature. After being shunned by the traditional scientific community, though, Kilham’s unique findings now interest bear researchers worldwide. His techniques even aid scientists working with pandas in China and bears in Russia.

Moreover, the observation skills that fueled Kilham’s exceptional work turned out to be born of his dyslexia. His ability to think in pictures and decipher systems makes him a unique interpreter of the bear's world.

Out on a Limb delivers Kilham’s fascinating glimpse at the inner world of bears, and also makes a passionate case for science, and education in general, to open its doors to different ways of learning and researching—doors that could lead to far broader realms of discovery.

Kilham and his work have been featured in five internationally televised documentaries. In addition to being on over forty nationally broadcast radio shows including National Public Radio, he has appeared on The Today ShowGood Morning AmericaABC Nightly NewsThe David Letterman Show, and more.

Available in: Hardcover

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Out on a Limb

Benjamin Kilham, Temple Grandin

Hardcover $24.95

The Man Who Hated Work and Loved Labor

The Man Who Hated Work and Loved Labor

By Les Leopold

A CIA-connected labor union, an assassination attempt, a mysterious car crash, listening devices, and stolen documents--everything you'd expect from the latest thriller. Yet, this was the reality of Tony Mazzocchi, the Rachel Carson of the U.S. workplace; a dynamic labor leader whose legacy lives on in today's workplaces and ongoing alliances between labor activists and environmentalists, and those who believe in the promise of America.

In The Man Who Hated Work and Loved Labor: The Life and Times of Tony Mazzocchi, author and labor expert Les Leopold recounts the life of the late Oil, Chemical, and Atomic Workers Union leader. Mazzocchi's struggle to address the unconscionable toxic exposure of tens of thousands of workers led to the passage of the Occupational Safety and Health Act and included work alongside nuclear whistleblower Karen Silkwood. His noble, high-profile efforts forever changed working conditions in American industry--and made him enemy number one to a powerful few.

As early as the 1950s, when the term "environment" was nowhere on the political radar, Mazzocchi learned about nuclear fallout and began integrating environmental concerns into his critique of capitalism and his union work. An early believer in global warming, he believed that the struggle of capital against nature was the irreconcilable contradiction that would force systemic change.

Mazzocchi's story of non-stop activism parallels the rise and fall of industrial unionism. From his roots in a pro-FDR, immigrant family in Bensonhurst, Brooklyn, through McCarthyism, the Sixties, and the surge of the environmental movement, Mazzocchi took on Corporate America, the labor establishment and a complacent Democratic Party.

This profound biography should be required reading for those who believe in taking risks and making the world a better place. While Mazzocchi's story is so full of peril and deception that it seems almost a work of fiction, Leopold proves that the most provocative and lasting stories in life are those of real people.

Available in: Hardcover, Paperback

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The Man Who Hated Work and Loved Labor

Les Leopold

Paperback $24.95

The Contrary Farmer

The Contrary Farmer

By Gene Logsdon

Gene Logsdon has become something of a rabble-rouser in progressive farm circles, stirring up debates and controversies with his popular New Farm Magazine column, The Contrary Farmer. One of Logsdon's principle contrarieties is the opinion that--popular images of the vanishing American farmer, notwithstanding--greater numbers of people in the U.S. will soon be growing and raising a greater share of their own food than at any time since the last century. Instead of vanishing, more and more farmers will be cottage farming, part-time.

This detailed and personal account of how Logsdon's family uses the art and science of agriculture to achieve a reasonably happy and ecologically sane way of life in an example for all who seek a sustainable lifestyle. In The Contrary Farmer, Logsdon offers the tried-and-true, practical advice of a manual for the cottage farmer, as well as the subtler delights of a meditation in praise of work and pleasure. The Contrary Farmer will give its readers tools and tenets, but also hilarious commentaries and beautiful evocations of the Ohio countryside that Logsdon knows as his place in the universe.

Available in: Paperback

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The Contrary Farmer

Gene Logsdon

Paperback $19.95