At Least in the City Someone Would Hear Me Scream: Misadventures in Search of the Simple Life

( 26 )

Overview

We all dream it.
Wade Rouse actually did it.

Finally fed up with the frenzy of city life and a job he hates, Wade Rouse decided to make either the bravest decision of his life or the worst mistake since his botched Ogilvie home perm: to uproot his life and try, as Thoreau did some 160 years earlier, to "live a plain, simple life in radically reduced conditions."

In this rollicking and hilarious memoir, Wade ...

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At Least in the City Someone Would Hear Me Scream: Misadventures in Search of the Simple Life

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Overview

We all dream it.
Wade Rouse actually did it.

Finally fed up with the frenzy of city life and a job he hates, Wade Rouse decided to make either the bravest decision of his life or the worst mistake since his botched Ogilvie home perm: to uproot his life and try, as Thoreau did some 160 years earlier, to "live a plain, simple life in radically reduced conditions."

In this rollicking and hilarious memoir, Wade and his partner, Gary, leave culture, cable, and consumerism behind and strike out for rural Michigan–a place with fewer people than in their former spinning class. There, Wade discovers the simple life isn’t so simple. Battling blizzards, bloodthirsty critters, and nosy neighbors equipped with night-vision goggles, Wade and his spirit, sanity, relationship, and Kenneth Cole pointy-toed boots are sorely tested with humorous and humiliating frequency. And though he never does learn where his well water actually comes from or how to survive without Kashi cereal, he does discover some things in the woods outside his knotty-pine cottage in Saugatuck, Michigan, that he always dreamed of but never imagined he’d find–happiness and a home.

At Least in the City Someone Would Hear Me Scream is a sidesplitting and heartwarming look at taking a risk, fulfilling a dream, and finding a home–with very thick and very dark curtains.

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Editorial Reviews

Publishers Weekly

Having escaped the idiocy of rural life in his growing-up-gay-in-the-Ozarks memoir America's Boy, the author returns to it in this flamboyant fish-out-of-water saga. Inspired by Thoreau, Rouse and his partner moved to a cottage near the Michigan resort town of Saugatuck in order to simplify; wean himself from his addictions to shopping, tanning and cable; and resolve childhood traumas by being brashly gay in a nonurban setting. Saugatuck is actually quite gay-friendly, but trials abound: the eerie quiet of the countryside, the apocalyptic snows, a marauding raccoon fended off with lip balm and breath spray, the scarcity of gourmet yuppie-chow, the humiliation of wearing waders instead of Kenneth Cole boots, the slow, unfashionable locals who ask, rather perceptively, "'Don't you ever take anything seriously... things that don't affect only you?'" Rouse's battle with his own narcissism is a losing one; indeed, it feels like the real point of offering his pink-outfitted self to the suspicious gazes of hunters and other yokels is simply to accentuate what a fascinating spectacle he is. Alas, Rouse's comically campy, but rarely truly funny, writing is so trite that few readers will share his self-involvement. (June)

Copyright © Reed Business Information, a division of Reed Elsevier Inc. All rights reserved.
Library Journal

What happens when a gay man leaves city life behind to embrace the rural lifestyle and philosophy of Thoreau? Rouse (America's Boy: A Memoir) said good-bye to his public relations job and, in an attempt to get serious about his writing, relocated with his partner to a cabin ten miles outside of a resort community in Michigan. Envision Green Acres for the 21st century. Most of the essays here offer variations on the theme of choosing the appropriate footwear for the job, as when Rouse discovers that Kenneth Cole boots are not the top choice for a day of ice fishing. Readers will encounter a dizzying assortment of brand names and references to cable television reality stars, so some of the humor may appeal only to those who appreciate a fabulous shopping spree or watching the beautiful people on the tube. This is David Sedaris meets Dave Barry-the humor is not subtle, but every page is good for a laugh.
—Susan Belsky

Kirkus Reviews
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 worthof trendy clothing just to walk the trash out in the middle of fucking nowhere!"Inauthentic and overblown. Author events out of Michigan
From the Publisher
“This is David Sedaris meets Dave Barry….every page is good for a laugh.”
Library Journal

"Rouse chronicles the hilarious escapades of these 'two neurotic urbanites' as they ensconce themselves in the woods without magazine subscriptions, malls, Trader Joe's, HGTV, or lattes. Rouse feels like a Martian confronting the locals at the general store, and suffers extreme anxiety when attempting ice fishing or karaoke. Gay or straight, any reader who has tried to 'fit in' somewhere outside his or her comfort zone will readily empathize with Rouse's rousing and ultimately successful lifestyle change."
Booklist

"Wade Rouse is a true oddball: half Henry David Thoreau, half Oliver Wendell Douglas. AT LEAST IN THE CITY SOMEONE WOULD HEAR ME SCREAM is a funny, good-natured chronicle of a fish out of water, slowly learning to breathe."
–Tom Perrotta, bestselling author of Election, Little Children, and The Abstinence Teacher

“In AT LEAST IN THE CITY SOMEONE WOULD HEAR ME SCREAM, Wade Rouse’s inner Eddie Albert does battle with his inner Eva Gabor. I won’t tell you who wins, but the fight is immensely entertaining.”
–A.J. Jacobs, bestselling author of The Year of Living Biblically

“Somewhere between Thoreau’s Walden Pond and Oliver Douglas’s Green Acres lies Wade Rouse. In AT LEAST IN THE CITY SOMEONE WOULD HEAR ME SCREAM, Rouse details his quest to shed the trappings of his fabulous life to live more simply… except no one told him how hard the simple life would be. Rouse is a master raconteur and his transition from city slicker to country mouse is filled with side-spitting humor, heart, and, of course, bands of marauding raccoons. This book has now taken its place at the top of my favorites list!”
—Jen Lancaster, bestselling author of Such a Pretty Fat and Pretty in Plaid

The Barnes & Noble Review
Wade Rouse is an unlikely modern-day Thoreau. Sure, he's quit his high-powered job in St. Louis and struck out for the territory on the sparsely populated shores of Lake Michigan, with nothing more than his partner, their dog, a healthy dose of hope, and Walden in hand as a guidebook. But the self-professed neurotic urbanite's attempts to renounce big-city addictions -- Kenneth Cole shoes, Starbucks triple-shot-no-fat-no-whip white mochas, among others -- are not always successful. Take the first chapter of this chronicle on adjusting to life in the woods, in which he fends off a wily raccoon's assault on his trash can, and then his head, with the only two things he never leaves home without: lip shimmer and breath spray. Turns out the latter serves double duty as pepper spray, thwarting the beast long enough to release its toothy grip on Rouse. From there, Rouse ticks off the ten lessons he's determined to glean from his new life, such as "eschewing the latest entertainment and fashion for simpler pursuits" and "participating in country customs," both of which he tries desperately to embrace (the ice fishing scene is truly laugh-out-loud funny) and decidedly fails to achieve. His attempts to rediscover religion and redefine the meaning of life and love, however, produce poignant epiphanies. The true success in the book is how Rouse manages to toe the line (feet encased in stylish slides) between hilarity and philosophy, proving that enlightenment can be found in as unlikely a place as a karaoke contest, where he's reminded of his mother's teaching, "It's not where you choose to live; it's how you choose to live." --Lydia Dishman
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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9780307451903
  • Publisher: Crown Publishing Group
  • Publication date: 6/2/2009
  • Pages: 320
  • Sales rank: 993,927
  • Product dimensions: 6.40 (w) x 9.30 (h) x 1.20 (d)

Meet the Author

Wade Rouse

WADE ROUSE is a writer living on the coast of Michigan. A graduate of Drury and Northwestern universities, he is the critically acclaimed author of the memoirs America’s Boy and Confessions of a Prep School Mommy Handler and a contributor to The Customer Is Always Wrong: The Retail Chronicles. His essays have been published in numerous national magazines and collections.

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Table of Contents

Part 1 Wade's Walden 1

Part 2 Life Lessons 27

Lesson 1 Devote My Life to Writing Full-Time and Embrace the "Solitary Life" 28

Lesson 2 Eschew the Latest Entertainment and Fashion for Simpler Pursuits 59

Lesson 3 Learn to Love the Snow 98

Lesson 4 Embrace My Rural Brethren 117

Lesson 5 Participate in Country Customs 144

Lesson 6 Live off the Land 166

Lesson 7 Nurture Our Country Critters 198

Lesson 8 Rediscover Religion 217

Lesson 9 Let Go of My City Cynicism 247

Lesson 10 Redefine the Meaning of Life and My Relationship with Gary 269

Part 3 The Final Test 285

Acknowledgments 303

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Customer Reviews

Average Rating 4
( 26 )
Rating Distribution

5 Star

(11)

4 Star

(8)

3 Star

(1)

2 Star

(2)

1 Star

(4)

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See All Sort by: Showing 1 – 20 of 26 Customer Reviews
  • Posted September 18, 2009

    Repetitive and poorly written. Even "funny" parts are not funny.

    There is a scene in the book where the author describes going to a dinner party and becoming depressed when he realized that his aspirations of being a writer and writing a memoir about growing up gay (which is not this book, but another of his memoirs) made him one of many in the same room who were doing the same and also fancied themselves writers. This is an apt section to describe this book because it has nothing original, compelling, unusually funny or interesting in it that would separate it from anyone else's stories as well as the fact that the quality of writing is on par with a high school freshman, which is to say that I believe almost any reasonably literate person could churn out something of this quality. The writing is not bad, I guess, it is just not of the quality that I expect of published authors. It reads like your average blog or as I mentioned above, the kind of writing you would get from a high school paper.

    This book has many, many flaws but the two that stand out are:
    1. it is billed as being "hysterical" and even the parts that are clearly supposed to be funny (like the opening passage where the author encounters a raccoon) are really not that funny, and
    2. as another reviewer mentioned, the author CONSTANTLY, and I do mean constantly, talks about the expensive things he has/likes/wants/used to enjoy. Even putting commentary about how this reflects on him as a person aside, it is just SO REPETITIVE and distracting. It feels as rants about the virtues of buying expensive jeans and such are just used as filler in order to stretch this tale into a book of reasonable length instead of the short story, essay or blog entry that would have more than sufficed to tell this tale.

    3 out of 3 people found this review helpful.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted October 4, 2009

    At Least In the City Someone Would Hear Me Scream

    Very entertaining and hilarious tale; a must-read for Michigan residents in the Holland-Saugatuck area. Hearing Wade read excerpts in person was also a highlight I wish could accompany the book.

    2 out of 3 people found this review helpful.

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  • Posted August 11, 2009

    more from this reviewer

    About as deep as a teaspoon.

    I read this book over the last couple of days, and I'm still trying to figure out what, exactly, was the point. Because as far as I can see, Rouse wrote an entire book simply to brag about the fact that he can afford to buy a $500 scarf and $300 face cream, and that this makes him far superior to those who cannot afford such things, and that he should be recommended for sainthood for deigning to live with such uncultured swine. Oh, and that all people who live in the flyover states hate gays and want to kill them.

    Perhaps if the author seemed to have an education above and beyond what you get in a standard high school, or could expound intelligently on art or music or literature or anything at all of meaning, the book might have had at least one redeeming quality. But all he talks about is how he yearns for overpriced clothing, how much he loves overpriced coffee, and the evils of hick-filled Walmarts everywhere (though, apparently, if your sweatshop, child labor produced clothing is a luxury brand, that makes it all okay).

    Hopefully Rouse has learned a bit more at this point from living in Michigan, because if he still wanders around thinking about how deep and soulful he is for living amongst the homophobic neanderthals, he really has missed the entire point. As does his book.

    2 out of 2 people found this review helpful.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted December 4, 2011

    Just OK

    I read a book by this author, liked it and immediately bought this one. That was a mistake because trying to read back to back books by Mr. Rouse is too much. His narrative is becoming annoying, he brings up David Sedaris, which is unfortunate because it made me miss his witty writing.The book is OK, just know this author can grate on your nerves after about 100 pages.

    1 out of 1 people found this review helpful.

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  • Posted February 12, 2013

    Not worth your time

    Not worth your time

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  • Anonymous

    Posted February 14, 2012

    Funny and real!

    Laugh out loud but sincere at the same time. Great imagery and so well written I felt as if I was in the cabin and going through the same life challenges.

    0 out of 1 people found this review helpful.

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  • Posted August 17, 2011

    Funny, touching, revealing

    Disclaimer: I grew up in Holland, and spent summers during my college years, and after, in Saugatuck, where much of the memoir takes place.

    This book is a refreshing departure from most memoirs. Wade can laugh at himself, which not so many of us can do, and he does this a lot! It can't be easy for a city boy to move to the country, even though Saugatuck us a great summer town filled with boutiques, art galleries, and charming restaurants, set on the water. Still...Wade never gives up, and I imagine his sense of humor, and ability to persevere make it possible.

    I'm now reading "It's All Relative" and loving every minute of it.

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  • Posted November 11, 2009

    Best Book I've Read in a long time

    I especially enjoyed this because I live near St. Louis and I have been to the place in Michigan they moved to. I've often thought, given the finances, I'd love to do what they did.

    0 out of 1 people found this review helpful.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted September 12, 2009

    Hysterical!

    So much fun! Great revalation that you can be a city and a country "girl" at the same time. And, don't leave the cynic in the city. Who would be there to protect the full-time country peeps from the "can you count the ice cubes?" ass-hat's!

    0 out of 2 people found this review helpful.

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  • Posted August 1, 2009

    I Also Recommend:

    LAUGH OUT LOUD

    Totally entertaining!

    0 out of 1 people found this review helpful.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted July 27, 2009

    I was the one screaming...with laughter

    Great book by a talented writer. Wade Rouse's confident ability to lay himself open for all to see gives readers a raucous opportunity to enjoy his journey. Following your dreams can be daunting, but this dream-seeker has me wrapped around his finger. I almost enjoyed this as much as his first memoir, "America's Boy," but that would be impossible as "AB" ousted other contenders for the spot as my favorite book. Too bad I read this so fast, now I have to wait for Rouse's next installment...patience is hard.

    0 out of 1 people found this review helpful.

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    Posted May 12, 2013

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    Posted July 18, 2011

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    Posted January 3, 2010

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    Posted March 26, 2011

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    Posted January 17, 2012

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    Posted September 28, 2010

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    Posted July 25, 2010

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    Posted August 27, 2011

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    Posted August 24, 2010

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