Still, I did find the narrative voice engaging, with touches of humor.
Sometimes the humor is unintentional: When Mr. Boyle begins his year of living in a donated 14-foot trailer, he has a ladyfriend, Claire. He's known her a week. Somewhere in the months of his foraging and living hand-to-mouth, he notices a fraying in the relationship. Duh?
Or the yawning contrast with the original. Thoreau lived deliberately with Nature and essayed some earned lessons about a life of purpose and challenge. He gave the world enduring literature. More prosaic Mr. Boyle chides the civilized world for wasting water on flush toilets. Why doesn't everyone dig holes for temporary composting toilets and make humanure? Boyle even has it in for babies and disposable diapers.
Mr. Boyle wrings out as much self-promotion for his freeconomy scheme as traditional and social media will grant him. Like any fanatic, Mr. Boyle believes if we discard human progress of the last few millennia--public health advances too--then we'd be living happy, idyllic lives as vegan foragers with the uncomplicated freedom of owning nothing, sharing everything. Everyone's a friend and everyone promises to "pay-it-forward."
Surely, in his personal experiment, a time or two when he shat in the woods, Mr. Boyle might have speculated it could also turn out otherwise: Everyman for himself, and as Hobbes conjectured, life is "nasty, brutish, and short."
The Moneyless Man by Mark Boyle, Oneworld Publications, Oxford, 2010, 206 pp., ISBN: 978-1-85168-781-7.
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