Author profiles real-life 'unsettlers' across urban and rural America - Albuquerque Journal

Author profiles real-life ‘unsettlers’ across urban and rural America

Mark Sundeen is no stranger to the Land of Enchantment.

Author Mark Sundeen
Author Mark Sundeen

The author spent time in 2007 in Albuquerque when he was the visiting writer.

He has taught fiction and nonfiction in the master of fine arts creative writing programs at the University of New Mexico and Southern New Hampshire University.

He also has taught at the Taos Summer Writers Conference.

“It’s amazing there,” he says during a recent phone interview. “I always look forward to coming back.”

Sundeen is currently on a tour in support of his book “The Unsettlers: In Search of the Good Life in Today’s America.”

In the book, Sundeen tells some truly off-the-grid stories, exploring “unsettling” movements across America.

life08_jd_05feb_2sundeenHe explores his own struggles with living off the land, while profiling a wild cast of real-life “unsettlers” – from urban farmers to utopian leaders – as they work to build communities outside of traditional modern society.

His subjects are hardworking Americans, primarily based in the Midwest and West, who feel as though they had been abandoned in some way by government.

The book took him about four years to complete.

“It started from this feeling of being very helpless, and I was complicit in my own destruction,” he says. “I was angry about the banks and the 1 percent having all this control, yet every month I was making a payment to Bank of America for my mortgage. I was angry at the war in Iraq, yet I was paying income tax. I was wondering if I could break free from these industries.”

During the four years, Sundeen found families in Missouri, Michigan and Montana to profile.

And the search wasn’t easy.

“Finding someone in Detroit was difficult,” he says. “I had to actually go out there and knock on doors to find someone who was willing to talk.”

Sundeen is enjoying his book tour and says the book is more relevant after the presidential election.

“People are wondering how we can resist and what we can do to fight injustice with our minds, body and soul,” he says. “People have been very inspired by families in the book.”

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