The Man Who Quit Money

The Man Who Quit Money

4.1 8
by Mark Sundeen
     
 

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Grand Prize Winner of the 2015 Green Book Festival 

Mark Sundeen's new book, The Unsettlers, is coming in January 2017 from Riverhead Books

In 2000, Daniel Suelo left his life savings-all thirty dollars of it-in a phone booth. He has lived without money-and with a newfound sense of freedom and security-ever since. The Man Who Quit Money is an

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Overview

Grand Prize Winner of the 2015 Green Book Festival 

Mark Sundeen's new book, The Unsettlers, is coming in January 2017 from Riverhead Books

In 2000, Daniel Suelo left his life savings-all thirty dollars of it-in a phone booth. He has lived without money-and with a newfound sense of freedom and security-ever since. The Man Who Quit Money is an account of how one man learned to live, sanely and happily, without earning, receiving, or spending a single cent. Suelo doesn't pay taxes, or accept food stamps or welfare. He lives in caves in the Utah canyonlands, forages wild foods and gourmet discards. He no longer even carries an I.D. Yet he manages to amply fulfill not only the basic human needs-for shelter, food, and warmth-but, to an enviable degree, the universal desires for companionship, purpose, and spiritual engagement. In retracing the surprising path and guiding philosophy that led Suelo into this way of life, Sundeen raises provocative and riveting questions about the decisions we all make, by default or by design, about how we live-and how we might live better.

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Editorial Reviews

Publishers Weekly
In 2000, Daniel Suelo left his last in a truck stop phone booth. Since then, he has "not earned, received, or spent a single dollar." He does not receive any government assistance and accepts only charity that is freely given. He currently resides in a cave in Utah's Moab Desert, where he primarily lives off the land. In this inspiring book, Sundeen (Car Camping) tells Suelo's remarkable life story and the circumstances surrounding his decision to "quit money." Suelo came from a family of fundamentalist Christians, but in college at the University of Colorado, he became fascinated with other world religions—particularly Hinduism and Buddhism—which he would explore more thoroughly on a trip to Thailand and India. While volunteering with the Peace Corps in Ecuador, Suelo came out as gay to his parents, whose refusal to accept this fact plunged Suelo into depression. Disillusioned with the world, Suelo scaled back on life, eschewing a steady job for couch surfing, volunteer work, and adventures, including working on a salmon boat, hiking Alaska's Resurrection Mountains, and hitchhiking across the country in 2000, when he finally abandoned money. Sundeen provides details of Suelo's day-to-day life, and the guiding philosophies that have enabled him, in his own words, "to live with zero money… Abundantly." Suelo's mission and ethos are truly admirable, and his story is equally compelling. (Mar.)
From the Publisher
"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.” –The 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.” –The 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 
 

“A fascinating subject… 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.” –The 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 

Kirkus Reviews
A sophisticated blend of memoir, biography, romantic travelogue, history and psychology, creating a marketable modern myth about a pseudo-saintly survivalist. Sundeen (The Making of Toro: Bullfights, Broken Hearts and One Author's Quest for the Acclaim He Deserves, 2003, etc.) tells the tale about how he crossed paths with Daniel Shellabarger, aka Suelo, amid the hip atmosphere he calls "Moab Chic." The author juxtaposes a suicide attempt by Suelo against his present lifestyle, evoking the image of the phoenix rising from the ashes: "Daniel Shellabarger died as a modern man driving his car over a cliff, and was reborn as an eternal man--without money or possessions, with only his two feet and two hands, trying to climb back to the top." Some readers may find it difficult to figure out whether the subject is a saintly figure, a madman or a clever political huckster. In addition to the suicide attempt, Sundeen examines Suelo's repeated mental breakdowns over a period of a few years--"I may have sacrificed my sanity but have gained something indescribable that is eternal"--and then explains how Suelo now essentially lives without money. A dumpster-diver who has repudiated the modern cash economy and lives in a cave, he has also been a regular housesitter over more than two decades. In exchange for food and shelter, he barters his services and does volunteer work, but he does not accept money (or pay taxes). Suelo is not shy about self-promotion on his website and Facebook page, where he also promotes this book but gives top billing to his organizing efforts against banks and taxation. Hopefully he is genuine about his mostly impressive lifestyle choices, but it's occasionally difficult to discern his motives from this text. An ambiguous collaboration, with sundry forms of cross-marketing that raise a caveat lector sign for readers willing to take the plunge and read this modern picaresque.

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Product Details

ISBN-13:
9781594485695
Publisher:
Penguin Publishing Group
Publication date:
03/06/2012
Pages:
272
Sales rank:
593,891
Product dimensions:
5.45(w) x 8.21(h) x 0.69(d)
Age Range:
18 Years

What People are saying about this

William Greider
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.
Elizabeth Gilbert
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.
From the Publisher
“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.” –The 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.” –The 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 
 
“A fascinating subject… 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.” –The 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 

Bill McKibben
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.

Read More

Meet the Author

Mark Sundeen is an award-winning writer whose nonfiction has appeared in The New York Times Magazine, Outside, National Geographic Adventure, and The Believer. He is the author of Car Camping (HarperCollins, 2000) and The Making of Toro (Simon & Schuster, 2003), and co-author of North by Northwestern (St. Martin's, 2010), which was a New York Times and Wall Street Journal bestseller. He has taught fiction and nonfiction in the MFA programs at the University of New Mexico and Western Connecticut State University. He lives in Montana and Utah.

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