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The Urban Hermit: A Memoir Hardcover – November 25, 2008


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Product Details

  • Hardcover: 304 pages
  • Publisher: St. Martin's Press; First Edition edition (November 25, 2008)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0312376995
  • ISBN-13: 978-0312376994
  • Product Dimensions: 5.8 x 1.1 x 8.6 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 15.2 ounces
  • Average Customer Review: 4.3 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (21 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #1,446,912 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Editorial Reviews

From Booklist

His diet plan wouldn't make it on Oprah, his lifestyle change wouldn’t be touted by Dr. Phil, and Alan Greenspan wouldn’t touch his financial solvency plan with a 10-foot pole. But for MacDonald, the need to retire a mountain of debt and lose a massive amount of weight were essentially one and the same problem. Reasoning that by solving one, he could fix the other, MacDonald decided to eat less and, more importantly, drink less, taking the money he saved on food and alcohol to pay off his creditors. He traded in his shots and beers for boiled lentils and canned tuna. Instead of partying with his college buddies, he paid more attention to his journalism career, traveling around the world and across the country in pursuit of plum, often quirky, assignments. One hundred sixty pounds later, MacDonald found he suddenly had grown up once he stopped going, and growing, out. Outrageous, offbeat, with an infectious can-do optimism, MacDonald offers a dedicated, if slightly demented, approach to self-improvement. --Carol Haggas

Review

"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

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Customer Reviews

Anyways,this is a fast and enjoyable read.
Robynn
We meet a slew of equally absurd and hilarious characters in this very entertaining and funny story, including MacDonald's strange cousins and a few randoms.
Book Lover 1955
The book around 280 pages, but is a very fast read.
nashvillegirl

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

18 of 18 people found the following review helpful By Paul Kronenberg on December 4, 2008
Format: Hardcover
I read The Urban Hermit in a couple of hours and found that Sam MacDonald has a very engaging, honest, funny and captivating style of writing and speaking to the reader. In the introduction, he states that:"I was a big, fat bastard. No excuses. No complaints. That's just the way I was."He was having a good time, drinking, eating and hanging out. Things probably would have continued for another 10 years, had not bills and credit card debt began to get out of hand.From that point, he takes the reader along with him on his journey. I was especially amazed at his ability to stick to a radical change in eating and living, that he devised.Perhaps he didn't have any choice or maybe his inate self-respect made it hard to look for an easy way out. Memoirs often give the opportunity to walk with someone in their shoes. This particular memoir is special because the author is a good guy to hang out with. By the end of the book, I was happy that his hard work had found him with much to be thankful for.
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10 of 10 people found the following review helpful By nashvillegirl VINE VOICE on December 15, 2008
Format: Hardcover
The Urban Hermit is a quick, clever, and sometimes laugh-out-loud funny book. Sam MacDonald is in his late 20s when the life that he's always enjoyed (drinking, hanging out, not really caring about money) comes to a grinding halt when he discovers how much money he owes to the IRS and credit card companies. He decides to try an "urban hermit" plan for month, where he exists on the cheapest food possible (tuna, eggs and lentils) while saving up money to pay his creditors back. Unlike a lot of other memoirs where the author decides to follow some self-improvement plan for a year, MacDonald originally plans on being an urban hermit for only a month. Due to a series of unforeseen events, he ends up being an urban hermit (with some breaks) for many, many months. During that time, we see him travel to Bosnia for a reporting job, bust a porn shop for illegal viewing booths, save a trailer park, travel to a huge hippie gathering in Montana, get what sounds like his first real girlfriend, and various other adventures. MacDonald's style of writing is perfect for a book like this, and he has a way of describing situations and scenes that will make you laugh out loud. The parts where he is attempting to cook the lentils and traveling to Montana in a VW Bus are particularly funny. If you are from Maryland or the DC area, you will enjoy familiar sights being mentioned in the book.

The book around 280 pages, but is a very fast read. MacDonald is a sympathetic, likeable character and his discipline is admirable. One warning - because I know some people don't like this - there is a fair amount of drug use in the book, so if you are squeamish about that, be forewarned. If you don't care, then dive right in!
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4 of 4 people found the following review helpful By Book Lover 1955 on March 12, 2009
Format: Hardcover
The Urban Hermit was totally hilarious and got me through my train ride like no other book. After hitting bottom financially, MacDonald is forced to concoct a crazy idea to save money that consists of him eating only lentils and tuna. This story takes us through those surreal months--once the local bar regular, he starts pitching magazine stories to make the horrible time go by and lands a gig to cover the Rainbow hippie cult and is then flown to report from Bosnia. We meet a slew of equally absurd and hilarious characters in this very entertaining and funny story, including MacDonald's strange cousins and a few randoms. A fascinating insight to a generation that wracked up the worst credit in history. This book is about the extremes one guy went to in order to break those shackles. I can't look at lentils and tuna the same way anymore. I laughed out loud numerous times while reading this and so will you.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful By C. O'Malley on March 13, 2009
Format: Hardcover
Fat, broke and sunk to borrowing money from his parents to make student loan payments, journalist Sam MacDonald dreams up the Urban Hermit plan. He will spend $8 a day and limit his food intake to 800 calories a day, with meals consisting of lentils and tuna fish. Who knew deprivation and poverty could be so funny?

MacDonald's journey from the Fat Bastard to the Urban Hermit was supposed to last a month. Instead it starts with his debt during the dot-com boom and his over-stressed size 44 pants and ends soon after September 11, 2001, with his then-fiancé urging him to eat a little more to fill out his face. In the year in between, readers join MacDonald and his cousin Skippy, their life in a "brown" apartment with accidental pets, a trip to Bosnia and mistakes involving foreign money, trailer-park activism, politics and porn, and cross-country adventures with people so charming, so scary, so absurd that we want to be there.

"Dumb Luck" could easily have been an alternative title to this book as both MacDonald and his cousin/roommate Skippy quit their jobs anytime they get promoted. Readers happily enjoy the outrageous ride. When the cat finds a linty ball of Ecstasy under the recliner, MacDonald and Skippy head out to the woods and discover a Dukes of Hazzard convention. MacDonald's cousin Aaron, a lovable hippie who gets along with everyone, accompanies them to the Rainbow Gathering as the photographer on one of MacDonald's assignments and ends up saving their lives while serving food and fixing his beloved van.

Deprived of luxuries such as beer and shots, and lonely since all his friends are drinking without him, MacDonald wanders the streets of Baltimore, oblivious to the weight that is dropping off.
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