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Car Camping: The Book of Desert Adventures
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Car Camping: The Book of Desert Adventures

3.69  ·  Rating details ·  116 Ratings  ·  17 Reviews
Hunter Thompson meets Bill Bryson in this hilarious narrative of travels throughout the Southwest.

He's like Huckleberry Finn

Sort of.

He's a twenty-two-year-old housepainter living at his parents' house in Southern California, across a four-lane street from a gated subdivision. Now this suburban innocent is striking out on the only type of adventure he can afford: he's

Paperback, 256 pages
Published May 1st 2000 by Quill (HarperCollins)
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Rating details
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Oct 16, 2010 rated it really liked it
Such a fun read that leaves my head spinning with a cheeky western landscape both beautiful and mundane. I think I want to go Nowhere. Or go fix up a pig farm. There was that one part so hilarious I can't stop thinking about it but I don't want to ruin it for anyone. So cavalier, so feckless, so bold. I love Mark Sundeen and he is everything I wanted in a boyfriend in 1994.
Cathi Davis
Mar 23, 2017 rated it really liked it
"The lake was wide and flat and there was a lot of it to go."
This is the last line of the book and by then it pretty much is a metaphor for the author's approach to life. His prose is plain and straight forward, and if I'd read that line at the beginning it would have just been a description of motor boating. But by the end of the book, you like mark, respect him, and this line tells you everything is going to be okay.
I really enjoyed this book. At first it seems like a typical drinking, dereli
Oct 11, 2010 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: favorites, utah
I picked this up on a whim, by reading some random recommendation based on similar road books. Its title is misleading, sounding like a guidebook. Don't be fooled. This is a semiautobiographical novel, based in the southwest, centered around young Mark Sundeen, a painter who is aimless and usually up for heading to wherever his beatup Subaru can take him so long as it's free and there's a road. Sundeen builds up many characters, most notably Beach Philips and September, and you'll laugh at his c ...more
Sep 01, 2007 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
I found this book free at the local post office, and picked it up because I thought it was a guidebook to car camping, My first thought was, that's odd. What would you write about? (I guess: "Remember to close the doors at night or your dome light will drain the battery.")

But it's not a guidebook, more of a memoir of an aspiring drifter. The fun part is that's Sundeens's not a very good drifter, although he has some great adventures along the way. In his intro he admits he made stuff up, so tha
Steven Davis
Jan 02, 2018 rated it really liked it
Picked this up on impulse and enjoyed it a great deal. It is a charming, irreverent travel narrative that plays out across the American West. Mark Sundeen's writing is perceptive and observant and the book is stuffed with original, offbeat Americans who feel completely authentic and real. The book reads something like an updated version of Beat road trips, yet also feels very fresh and funny.
May 08, 2017 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
One of my favorites ever. Reads like J.D. Salinger took a road trip into the American desert and saw all the beauty of the landscape with the same painful clarity as the hypocrisy and racism of modern consumeristic white culture. Classic reading for folks disillusioned with America and in love with mother nature at her most minimalist.
Digi Munoz
Sep 30, 2011 rated it liked it
The back cover says "Imagine Huckleberry Finn. Sort of. If Hunter S Thompson had invented him."

My recommendation is to not read this book, if you are looking for an alternate Hunter S Thompson book. This is much slower in bits, and more dull.

It is written well, and is enjoyable. But ultimately, I will not remember it next year. I don't know what separates it from a good magazine article?

Also, Huck Finn?? Sure, its a traveling book, and it contains river(s) as well. No real social commentary tho
Jul 02, 2013 rated it did not like it
I'm currently camping and have been for the past 6 weeks so thought I would get a light read. Its light and its fluff. His accounts of his adventures and his obsession with a girl is ridiculous. Maybe if I was a little bit more lighthearted about it. It should read A White Man's Car Camping Adventure. Its the life and the perspective of a small subset of people. Don't waste your time.
Jul 17, 2011 rated it really liked it
I enjoyed this. I had also read The Making of Toro, which a friend picked as being "way" post modern. Way pomo can be my way too.

It is kind of a cute coming of age thing, but it kind of captures an essential problem with capitalism for me too. It does capture the dilemma I had when I finished college. I had a liberal arts degree I didn't know what to do with.
Aug 06, 2007 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: road-trippers and soul searchers
This is a great summer read for those of us who love to travel or just dream of dropping everything and heading out on the open road. Sundeen's writing can be both simple and poignant, funny and sad. He's someone to keep an eye on; I heard him read from his newest novel and I'm guessing fame isn't too far behind.
Yve Chairez
Jun 28, 2012 rated it liked it
Shelves: never-mind
Didn't finish this book, either. It started out pretty good and was giving me wanderlust and stuff, and I love love love the desert - I'm a desert-dweller myself - but it got to be too much of the same thing over and over, didn't seem to be getting anywhere, so I got bored.
Oct 24, 2007 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
This book was recommended by the brilliant surrealist/misanthropic/darkly funny contemporary short story writer, George Saunders when I went to see him read a few years ago. It's a rambling, ramshackle kind of slacker-y road trip. A most fun adventure.
Brian O
Sep 01, 2007 rated it liked it
A fun story of youthful travel through the Southwest US.
Mathew Gross
Apr 25, 2012 rated it it was amazing
A lovely, funny bildungsroman disguised as non-fiction travelogue. Highly recommended.
Nov 28, 2007 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
No one writes about aimless wandering better than Sundeen.
Jul 19, 2010 rated it it was amazing
Just so good. Depressing, moving, entertaining, perfect.
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