Tongue-in-cheek memoir of a middle-aged gay man who, inspired by Thoreau, moved to rural Michigan to pursue his writing and the simple life.
Rouse (Confessions of a Prep School Mommy Handler, 2007, etc.) jettisoned urban pleasures and set out with his partner to craft a new life in the woods. The narrative is organized around ironic “life lessons” drawn from his reading of Thoreau and supplemented by research from the Encyclopedia Britannica and Wikipedia. Along the way, he was ravaged by a raccoon, shopped at a warehouse store, went ice fishing and built a snowman, “complete with a very impressive thick stick penis.” His meandering text offers various observations on the differences between city and country life. Urbanites have fashion, credit-card debt and neighbors who never intrude. Country dwellers are so benighted they can’t even deal with his tiny little list of 21 items his local grocery should carry—typical entry: “Silver Palate rough-cut oatmeal (must be the slow-cook kind, not the instant.” When the clerk responded with mild mockery, he considered “pushing the bowling pencil into her jugular… [I] am convinced that if I explained all of this to a jury of my peers, I would be acquitted. But I know I have no ‘peers.’ ” Rouse apparently aspires to reconfirm tired stereotypes about backward country people and flamboyant gay men. He also indulges in occasional flurries of tepid misogyny (a comment about dull female birds, an encounter with a lesbian sewer expert). The author’s attitude and tone, including his liberal use of uninspired profanity, is encapsulated in the opening description of himself as “a self-obsessed gay man who intentionally bedazzled himself in $1,000 worth of trendy clothing just to walk the trash out in the middle of fucking nowhere!”
Inauthentic and overblown.