At Least in the City Someone Would Hear Me Scream: Misadventures in Search of the Simple Life

by: Wade Rouse (0)

We all dream about it, but Wade Rouse actually did it. Discover his journey to live the simple life in this hilarious memoir. 

Finally fed up with the frenzy of city life and a job he hates, Wade Rouse decided to make either the bravest decision of his life or the worst mistake since his botched Ogilvie home perm: to uproot his life and try, as Thoreau did some 160 years earlier, to "live a plain, simple life in radically reduced conditions."

In this rollicking and hilarious memoir, Wade and his partner, Gary, leave culture, cable, and consumerism behind and strike out for rural Michigan—a place with fewer people than in their former spinning class. There, Wade discovers the simple life isn’t so simple. Battling blizzards, bloodthirsty critters, and nosy neighbors equipped with night-vision goggles, Wade and his spirit, sanity, relationship, and Kenneth Cole pointy-toed boots are sorely tested with humorous and humiliating frequency. And though he never does learn where his well water actually comes from or how to survive without Kashi cereal, he does discover some things in the woods outside his knotty-pine cottage in Saugatuck, Michigan, that he always dreamed of but never imagined he’d find–happiness and a home.

At Least in the City Someone Would Hear Me Scream is a sidesplitting and heartwarming look at taking a risk, fulfilling a dream, and finding a home–with very thick and very dark curtains.

The Reviews

Even though I probably look like some of the people Wade Rouse makes fun of – I don’t have an extensive budget for clothing and I buy my shoes at Payless – I identify with him. I love the outdoors, but if I’m out in the sun too long, my skin turns bright red, I start running a fever and I have to go to bed for a day or two. I love country life, but I want to be able to go to the theater and find people I can talk books with. While Wade – or should I call him Thoreau, in honor of the Walden writer, or Lucy, as in “I Love …” has different reactions to country life, somehow I think our souls were cut from the same bolt of cloth. (Although, somehow, his turned out to be silk while mine is cotton.)The book is so funny that I almost fell off my indoor exercise bike – six or seven times in an hour. My family kept coming in to check on me to make sure I was all right. From his adventures with a raccoon to his shopping spree at a gardening store, many of us who live in rural areas can identify with him. (In my case, the raccoons pooped on the roof and destroyed the tiles and I bought a rhododendron bush because I loved its leaves, even though it never ever throughout eternity has grown in dry New Mexico, according to all the critics on my Facebook page.)There’s a heartbreaking yet hilarious chapter on his childhood stay at a Christian camp where all the cool kids spoke in tongues. And there is beautiful, tender, loving homages to a grandmother who read to him on an Ozark porch from “Walden” and “The Bible,” her two favorite books. While Wade shares memories of bullies who honed in on him because he was gay, there is ample evidence that his grandmother’s lessons from her two beloved books armed him with what he needed to be himself.An obsession with Erma Bombeck, the 1960s humorous family newspaper column icon, may have influenced Wade’s wit; I think she would have been proud of his next-generation of “humor at home” writing. The book is rather elegant, in its own way, written beautifully and truthfully. There doesn’t seem to be much of that exaggeration that makes some humorous essays break up like a duck egg placed in a dishwasher. (You’ll have to read the book.)And the reader can only hope that Wade and Gary are living happily ever after; the loving portrait of his partner leaves you pulling for them. Gary is one charming human being. In the end, you’ll probably feel as I do, that you want to live next door to them.

Is Wade Rouse funny? Sometimes he is very funny. Is he clever? Yes, he can be. Is he A Big Whiny Boy? Definitely. Did he finally grow up after moving to the country? Hmm. Overall, I enjoyed the book, but I soon grew weary of all of the whining, so found that if I left the book alone for a day or two, after reading a section or more, I could tolerate what I can only surmise is either sarcasm (probably not), or just one, insecure, and very whiny city boy who decides to try to make his, and his partner's life simpler by moving to the Great Outdoors. And a sainthood to Gary for staying; making sure that Wade keeps writing. So, would Thoreau be proud? Only time will tell.

This is a fun-to-read memoir! The premise of a St. Louis professional and writer and his partner uprooting their lives to move to rural Michigan certainly provides a lot of comedic fodder. Rouse balances the hilarity (and frivolity) with his use of Thoreau's Walden as a guide to adapting to country living and embracing a new lifestyle. Through the Walden frame, Rouse touches on bigger issues like relationships, religion, pet ownership, following your dreams - but still manages to include detailed descriptions of each of his fashion choices.There are several laugh-out-loud sections here (my favorite involving a rousing game of Candyland). Rouse's tone feels both lively and intimate. It's easy to imagine sitting across from him at a fancy coffeehouse and hearing him relate his stories in the same exact manner. Similar to many other modern essayists, Rouse's writing is reminiscent of David Sedaris. But with more fashion sense and a sort of sparkling flair. Luckily, he lacks the angry and bitter undertones of Augsten Burroughs which makes this a lovely and entertaining read.The Walden theme really centralizes this memoir. Unfortunately there are a few repetitive turns-of-phrase that work against it. The repetition makes this a less fluid read and more of a collection of essays than a completely cohesive memoir. I am definitely intrigued by Rouse's skill with words, though, and I definitely plan on checking out his other books.

I read Confessions of a Prep School Mommy Handler first, and thought it was great. When I looked to see if Wade Rouse had written anything else, I was thrilled to find this new book. First of all, he went out and did something I have always dreamed about - chucking the city life and immersing oneself in rural culture. I read a lot of books on this topic, and this is the funniest one by far, but it's more than funny.Wade Rouse seemed pretty comfortable in his city life. He wasn't escaping. He was trying something new. This book is above all about taking the leap. He doesn't hold back at all. He sets goals and chronicles the quest to achieve them. Obviously some things will never change - he will always wear fabulous clothes, no matter how inappropriate for the task at hand, and will describe them in meticulous detail. I suspect he will always seek comfort in junk food. But I also think he will courageously place himself in challenging situations and force himself to deal, and grow - not because it might make a funny book, but because it's part of who he is.Wade Rouse grew up with a grandmother who read Walden to him. He has always had that longing for the simple life within him. He knows it will be a struggle to give up his lattes and designer shopping expeditions, but he wants to try it. Yes, it will also make a good book, and Wade Rouse looooves to make fun of himself. It is funny, touching, and inspiring. And I am so glad that one of the things he learned about himself is that he wants to continue to be a writer of memoirs. This is a guy who can find the humor in anything. Highly recommended.

I missed the return window - started to read this today and find that the pages are out of order! I've manage to locate page 11, and am moving forward, but seriously- how did this happen?

At Least in the City Someone Would Hear Me Scream: Misadventures in Search of the Simple Life
⭐ 4.2 💛 161
kindle: $2.76
paperback: $3.50
hardcover: $12.12
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