The Man Who Quit Money 2012     

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The Making of Toro 2003                 Amazon

Car Camping 2000                           Amazon

 

Reviews

THE MAN WHO QUIT MONEY

Riverhead, 2012

This is a beautiful, thoughtful and wonderful book. I suspect I may find myself thinking about it every day for the rest of my life. Elizabeth Gilbert

Mark Sundeen's astonishing and unsettling book goes directly to the largest questions about how we live and what we have lost in a culture obsessed with money. Sundeen tells the story of a gentle and generous man who sought the good life by deciding to live without it. What's most unsettling and astonishing is that he appears to have succeeded. William Greider

Maybe it's just this odd, precarious moment we live in, but Daniel Suelo's story seems to offer some broader clues for all of us. Mark Sundeen's account will raise subversive and interesting questions in any open mind. Bill McKibben 

Suelo isn’t a conflicted zealot, or even a principled aesthete. He’s a contented man who chooses to wander the Earth and do good. He’s also someone you’d want to have a beer with and hear about his life, as full of fortune and enlightenment as it is disappointment and darkness… At its core, The Man Who Quit Money is the story of a man who decided to live outside of society, and is happier for it. Men’s Journal

Sundeen deftly portrays [Suelo] as a likeable, oddly sage guy… who finds happiness in radical simplicity [and] personifies a critique that will resonate with anyone who has ever felt remorse on the treadmill of getting and spending. Outside Magazine

Captivating… Suelo emerges as a remarkable and complex character… Sundeen brings his subject vividly to life [and] makes a case for Suelo's relevance to our time. Seattle Times

Exquisitely timed… The Man Who Quit Money is a slim, quick read that belies the weightiness underneath. The very quality that makes us see a “man walking in America” (Suelo’s words) and be simultaneously attracted and repelled is exposed here in beautiful detail. Missoula Independent

In America, renunciation breaks the rules, but, as everyone evicted from Zuccotti Park or bludgeoned at Berkeley or just steamed in-between knows, the rules require breaking. Sundeen… sets out to understand the process and logic behind a money-free lifestyle while tracing the spiritual, psychological, physical, and philosophical quest that led this particular man to throw over our society’s arguably counterfeit-yet-prevailing faith in money, or, more precisely, in debt. The Rumpus

Both resonant as a character study and infinitely thought-provoking in its challenge to all our preconceptions about modern life—and about the small and large hypocrisies people of all philosophies and religious paths assume they need to accept. Salt Lake City Weekly

Thoughtful and engrossing biography that also explores society’s fixation with financial and material rewards...Although few readers will even consider emulating Suelo’s scavenger lifestyle, his example will at least provoke some serious soul-searching about our collective addiction to cash. Booklist

 

THE MAKING OF TORO

Simon & Schuster, 2003

Books like this are only written once or twice a century. Thank God. Hunter S. Thompson

Part travelogue, part romance, part send-up of literary fashions and wholly the mark of the quirkiest memoirist since David Sedaris. Top ten books of 2003. Detroit Free Press

Combining the self-deprecating wit of David Sedaris and the literary gamesmanship of DaveEggers . . . fabulously entertaining . . . The Making of Toro is a glorious mess, the tale of a hapless quest. Outside

A brilliant performance: the making of a book that never existed by an author who is his imaginary double. The hilarious novel brings into into collision the old school of the great comedians of the New Yorker (Perelman, Benchley, etc..) and the very modern gonzo journalism. Le Figaro (France)

 A saving grace for the literary world. Standard (France)

 A literary entertainment as produced only by novelists conscious of the capacity of words. Mark Sundeen is gifted. He writes lines with the teeth of a saw, full of spice, madly enjoyable. Sud Ouest (France)

He depicts a circuitous problem for any emerging U.S. author aspiring to the life of Hemingway or Jon Krakauer. It’s impossible, misguided or, at any rate, imperialistic. There they are, increasingly loathed for their nation’s global agenda, seeking adventure that might fuel their contributions to the culture, only to be confronted (and disappointed) by their own cultural dominance. A wry lament for the kind of honest, authentically American experience that just “isn’t good enough for books” any more. Toronto Globe and Mail

A wonderful, sarcastic take on the concept of author as artist. What an imagination, and what an ego for his author-protagonist! What a riot! Library Journal (starred)

With each misguided attempt to find bullfighting’s heart and soul, LaFrance uses a quixotic idealism to convert reality (e.g., an undercooked drumstick served in a dingy corner diner) to what could be (an exotic delicacy, served only to the most esteemed of guests). It’s a skewed travelogue, in which the line between a gritty reality and a chimerical fantasy is warmly blurred. Publishers Weekly

bizarre chronicle of the author’s failed attempts to write the book we are, in fact, reading. There is an absurd postmodern slant to all of this, shades of the film Adaptation, or maybe it’s just that, as Sundeen reasons, every blockbuster needs a making-of documentary. Either way, it’s funny, surreal, and thoroughly one-of-a-kind, an exciting adventure about a grand misadventure. Booklist

 

CAR CAMPING

Quill HarperCollins, 2000

A riotous, beautiful, totally original road novel masquerading as a travel book. Sundeen’s America, comprised of equal parts Gorgeous and Awful, absolutely shimmers with life. The prose is pure, wild, naive, and poetic; the characters leap off the page in their dunderheadedness and sincerity. A brilliant and auspicious debut. George Saunders

A stunningly wonderful writer. Sundeen’s prose is sparse but the images he creates are alive and infinite. This is a book to be savored and remembered. Hubert Selby Jr

Exhilarating reading . . . very funny . . . the scenery he describes best in these wide-open spaces consists largely of trailer parks, junkyards, campgrounds and ”recreational areas.” Here there are no larger-than-life characters, no sinner-saints or inspired madmen — just listless, marginal dreamers, scavengers who seem to have become deluded by some long-forgotten notion of the desert, only to find themselves eking out a hardscrabble existence among the detritus of those who’ve been this way before. New York Times

 Housepainter Mark Sundeen, 22, tells of hopping in his ramshackle station wagon, along or with some of his more eccentric family members, and hightailing it out of his Southern California neighborhood for various godforsaken, fascinating parts of the American West. Sundeen, via his faux-naive authorial persona, makes many delightfully sly comments on the pretentious rich inhabitants of Telluride, tourists chasing Native American “spirituality” and the true meaning of the term “National Recreation Area.” Laura Miller, Salon

 Summer Reading List,2000, NPR’s Talk of the Nation

 Not everyone has Sundeen’s gift for seeing the special in the seemingly mundane and elevating it to prose as laconically beautiful as it is honest in its emptiness. Missoula Independent

 Every generation needs its own road novel; for [this generation], Car Camping is it. You’ll find many reasons to like Car Camping, most of them having to do with author Mark Sundeen’s workmanlike voice. It’s a voice that rarely resorts to an exclamation point and is never cute or precious. It’s a voice that seems resigned but eventually beguiles the reader with a hard-bitten resilience. Best of all, there’s the distinct sense of a good young writer emerging—Sundeen’s is a voice you’ll want to hear again. Portland Oregonian

 Mark Sundeen has as many great road-trip yarns as he has miles on his odometer. Playboy

 This is travel literature done DIY style, with Mark Sundeen criss-crossing the Southwest behind the wheel of his beat-up Subaru wagon in pursuit of a place where he can afford to be “himself.” He offers up his commentary on a part of the American experience that never makes it to prime time and he has some sound, sharp explanations as to why that might be. Car Camping is funny, and Sundeen’s wanderlust is infectious. Bust Magazine

 Sundeen succeeds in exposing the small-town and drifter lifestyles that are as much a part of the West as the glitz of Los Angeles or unabashed tourist enticements of Las Vegas. Salt Lake Tribune

A smart, fresh-eyed, youthful journey through the parts of the States that don’t usually make it into books. Sundeen casts a sharp eye over underprivileged Americans, children of the hippie generation and victims of the American nightmare. Nihilistic and New Age, this is a fresh view of the America we often overlook. Sunday Times (London)

Car Camping is set to be a cult classic in the manner of Jack Kerouac’s visionary On the Road. Birmingham Post (UK)

 What is so refreshing about Car Camping is its detachment. Rather than the “self-absorbed” beats, Sundeen aligns himself with the Californian tradition of gritty writers like John Fante and James M. Cain. He shares their interest in reality, in people on the fringes who don’t appear dramatic or overly unusual–the petty criminals and barflys, the everyman and woman–thus bringing Nowheresville, USA, to life. Dazed & Confused (UK)

There are, among Sundeen’s youthful celebration so of liberty, incidents of pathos, of fearful insecurity and failure which transforms this semi autobiography into much more than a travelogue. What’s on in Birmingham (UK)

 A pure pleasure of a debut. The Scotsman (UK)

 Mark Sundeen’s road-trip turns out to be hugely compelling… His observations are keen and insightful, his wit as dry as the Mojave Desert. The List (UK)