Urban Hermit: One Hungry American Gets Off His Butt, Loses His Gut, and Gets a Life

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Faced with the truth that his debts and his waistline had both ballooned out of control, Sam MacDonald devised a plan to change his life.

When Sam graduated from Yale in 1995, he watched a classmate make inroads as a head-office guy in professional baseball, another become a day-trading millionaire, and another develop connections at the Playboy Mansion. Struggling to make ends meet, he shrugged his shoulders at their success and raised a tall ...

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Overview

Faced with the truth that his debts and his waistline had both ballooned out of control, Sam MacDonald devised a plan to change his life.

When Sam graduated from Yale in 1995, he watched a classmate make inroads as a head-office guy in professional baseball, another become a day-trading millionaire, and another develop connections at the Playboy Mansion. Struggling to make ends meet, he shrugged his shoulders at their success and raised a tall one to them.

It wasn't until April 2000 that Sam got his wake-up call. He weighed 340 lbs. He was flat broke. And the IRS had caught up with him.

In a desperate attempt to save himself, Sam decided to limit himself to a budget of $8 a week and 800 calories a day. He called it "The Urban Hermit Plan."

He thought he would do it for a month. Instead, he embarked on a bizarre year-long journey. He lost 160 pounds in the process, befriended rent-dodging trailer-park denizens, flew to Bosnia on assignment, traveled to a peace festival in a hippie van, had a run-in with Cooter from the Dukes of Hazzard, and met the woman who would later become his wife.

The Urban Hermit is a wildly hilarious story about backwoods living, as told by a man who should have known better.

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Editorial Reviews

From the Publisher
"Hilarious and truly bizarre....like a weight-loss manual written by Hunter Thompson or financial planning advice from Charles Bukowski."

—Neal Pollack, author of Alternadad.

"Sam MacDonald is a strong new voice in the field of creative nonfiction. His book tells the compelling story of a man, obsessed with weight loss, haunted by demons, overcoming all obstacles and achieving a significant goal. It is powerful reading in direct and down-to-earth prose." —Lee Gutkind author, ALMOST HUMAN: Making Robots Think

"Raw and brutally honest, Sam McDonald has a way of grabbing you by the throat and demanding that you stay with him on his wild and hilarious romp of self-reinvention. Read this book for the powerful storytelling, read it for the laughs, read it for the privilege of getting to know a charming new voice—read it for the quiet rumble of hope McDonald so masterfully imbeds within these pages." – Jeanne Marie Laskas, author of Growing Girls: The Mother of All Adventures

Library Journal

MacDonald (creative nonfiction, Univ. of Pittsburgh) shares his story of how he overcame being flat broke and stuck with unpaid taxes and huge credit-card and student-loan debt (he graduated from Yale in 1995) while being nearly alcoholic and weighing 340 pounds. In April 2000, he implemented his own plan to save his life, beginning a journey of recovery and self-discovery that readers struggling with their own weight loss or lifestyle changes will appreciate. MacDonald decided to limit himself to a budget of $8 a week and 800 calories a day, the latter mainly from lentils that the author states "taste[d] like dirt." Although he initially thought that his urban hermit plan would not last long, MacDonald in fact continued his makeover for more than a year, achieving final success in August 2001. MacDonald here reveals some of the intriguing experiences he had along the way, including befriending rent-dodging trailer-park denizens, flying to Bosnia on assignment for a community newspaper, traveling to one of the Rainbow Gathering peace festivals, and ultimately meeting the woman who would become his wife. His memoir manages to be both funny and heartfelt. Recommended for public libraries.
—Dale Farris

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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9780312376994
  • Publisher: St. Martin's Press
  • Publication date: 11/25/2008
  • Edition description: First Edition
  • Edition number: 1
  • Pages: 304
  • Product dimensions: 5.82 (w) x 8.42 (h) x 1.05 (d)

Meet the Author

Sam MacDonald graduated from Yale University in 1995. He teaches Creative Nonfiction at the University of Pittsburgh.

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Sort by: Showing all of 3 Customer Reviews
  • Anonymous

    Posted November 27, 2008

    Soulscorching, timely, and packed with lentils

    As has been mentioned by others, it is as if Hunter S. Thompson decided to go on a self improvement kick. The author hits rock bottom physically and financially and decides to radically alter his habits in ways both hilarious and disturbing. This is not just the story of one weird guy, however. In today's wintry economic climate, there are lessons here for anyone who has made a habit of overconsumption. While you won't want to live long in his shoe, his folly and radical self correction is inspiring. Go read it and be thankful.

    2 out of 2 people found this review helpful.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted November 25, 2008

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    Posted October 29, 2008

    No text was provided for this review.

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