cover image The Unsettlers: In Search of the Good Life in Today’s America

The Unsettlers: In Search of the Good Life in Today’s America

Mark Sundeen. Riverhead, $26 (336p) ISBN 978-1-59463-158-0

Sundeen (The Man Who Quit Money) embarks on a cross-country journey to find others invested in living a simpler life, and to discover how he and his wife, Cedar, can get closer to that experience. Sundeen visits three couples: Ethan and Sarah in La Plata, Mo.; Greg and Olivia in Detroit; and Steve and Luci in Victor, Mont. All of them have made a serious commitment to sustainable living; some live without electricity, and others grow food for themselves and their neighbors. The book suffers from a tone that veers into preachiness, and though Sundeen raises questions of privilege, his treatment of it is superficial. In Detroit, the book is at its most engaging. The work that Greg and Olivia put into their farm is arduous, but the way they talk about their work is less self-righteous than the other couples. Sundeen does ask important questions about technology, the economy, and the moral implications of being both critic and participant in our society. Still, readers will be left wondering what large-scale simple living might look like. Agent: Richard Abate, 3 Arts Entertainment. (Jan.)