CAR CAMPING                     Amazon

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)