Chelsea Green Publishing

Slowspoke

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

Slowspoke

A Unicyclist's Guide to America

Availability: In Stock

Paperback

Available Date:
August 08, 2014

$17.95

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 >>

REVIEWS AND PRAISE

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."

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 Kentucky and at the Midwest Renewable Energy Fair in Wisconsin.

YOU MAY ALSO LIKE

This Organic Life

This Organic Life

By Joan Dye Gussow

Joan Dye Gussow is an extraordinarily ordinary woman. She lives in a home not unlike the average home in a neighborhood that is, more or less, typically suburban. What sets her apart from the rest of us is that she thinks more deeply--and in more eloquent detail--about food. In sharing her ponderings, she sets a delightful example for those of us who seek the healthiest, most pleasurable lifestyle within an environment determined to propel us in the opposite direction. Joan is a suburbanite with a green thumb, with a feisty, defiant spirit and a relentlessly positive outlook.

At the heart of This Organic Life is the premise that locally grown food eaten in season makes sense economically, ecologically, and gastronomically. Transporting produce to New York from California--not to mention Central and South America, Australia, or Europe--consumes more energy in transit than it yields in calories. (It costs 435 fossil fuel calories to fly a 5-calorie strawberry from California to New York.) Add in the deleterious effects of agribusiness, such as the endless cycle of pesticide, herbicide, and chemical fertilizers; the loss of topsoil from erosion of over-tilled croplands; depleted aquifers and soil salinization from over-irrigation; and the arguments in favor of "this organic life" become overwhelmingly convincing.

Joan's story is funny and fiery as she points out the absurdities we have unthinkingly come to accept. You won't find an electric can opener in this woman's house. In fact, you probably won't find many cans, as Joan has discovered ways to nourish herself, literally and spiritually, from her own backyard. If you are looking for a tale of courage and independence in a setting that is entirely familiar, read her story.

Available in: Paperback

Read More

This Organic Life

Joan Dye Gussow

Paperback $24.95

Sex and the River Styx

Sex and the River Styx

By Edward Hoagland

Called the best essayist of his time by luminaries like Philip Roth, John Updike, and Edward Abbey, Edward Hoagland brings readers his ultimate collection. In Sex and the River Styx, the author's sharp eye and intense curiosity shine through in essays that span his childhood exploring the woods in his rural Connecticut, his days as a circus worker, and his travels the world over in his later years.

Here, we meet Hoagland at his best: traveling to Kampala, Uganda, to meet a family he'd been helping support only to find a divide far greater than he could have ever imagined; reflecting on aging, love, and sex in a deeply personal, often surprising way; and bringing us the wonder of wild places, alongside the disparity of losing them, and always with a twist that brings the genre of nature writing to vastly new heights. His keen dissection of social realities and the human spirit will both startle and lure readers as they meet African matriarchs, Tibetan yak herders, circus aerialists, and the strippers who entertained college boys in 1950s Boston. Says Howard Frank Mosher in his foreword, the self-described rhapsodist "could fairly be considered our last, great transcendentalist."

Available in: Paperback

Read More

Sex and the River Styx

Edward Hoagland, Howard Frank Mosher

Paperback $17.95

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

Read More

Dreaming of Lions

Elizabeth Marshall Thomas

Paperback $17.95

A Sanctuary of Trees

A Sanctuary of Trees

By Gene Logsdon

As author Gene Logsdon puts it, "We are all tree huggers." But not just for sentimental or even environmental reasons. Humans have always depended on trees for our food, shelter, livelihood, and safety. In many ways, despite the Grimm's fairy-tale version of the dark, menacing forest, most people still hold a deep cultural love of woodland settings, and feel right at home in the woods.

In this latest book, A Sanctuary of Trees, Logsdon offers a loving tribute to the woods, tracing the roots of his own home groves in Ohio back to the Native Americans and revealing his own history and experiences living in many locations, each of which was different, yet inextricably linked with trees and the natural world. Whether as an adolescent studying at a seminary or as a journalist living just outside Philadelphia's city limits, Gene has always lived and worked close to the woods, and his curiosity and keen sense of observation have taught him valuable lessons about a wide variety of trees: their distinct characteristics and the multiple benefits and uses they have.

In addition to imparting many fascinating practical details of woods wisdom, A Sanctuary of Trees is infused with a philosophy and descriptive lyricism that is born from the author's passionate and lifelong relationship with nature: There is a point at which the tree shudders before it begins its descent. Then slowly it tips, picks up speed, often with a kind of wailing death cry from rending wood fibers, and hits the ground with a whump that literally shakes the earth underfoot. The air, in the aftermath, seems to shimmy and shiver, as if saturated with static electricity. Then follows an eerie silence, the absolute end to a very long life.

Fitting squarely into the long and proud tradition of American nature writing, A Sanctuary of Trees also reflects Gene Logsdon's unique personality and perspective, which have marked him over the course of his two dozen previous books as the authentic voice of rural life and traditions.

Available in: Paperback

Read More

A Sanctuary of Trees

Gene Logsdon

Paperback $19.95