If you're not familiar with the work of the writers below, check 'em out!

Mark Sundeen

One of the two writers from Utah, Sundeen is best-known for The Man who Quit Money, about Suelo, an adherent of "simple living" who lives part-time in a cave in Utah. He also wanders the country.

Can we even compare Suelo's story with Donald T***p's? Both Suelo and T***p are famous for their lifestyle, both travel the country, both pay little or no taxes.

But the similarities end there. Suelo has rejected a cash lifestyle, and T***p probably pretends to have more cash than he does.


Cheryl Strayed

Strayed's best-known book is Wild: From Lost to Found on the Pacific Crest Trail, about her journey of self-discovery during her long-distance hike through California and Oregon.

Strayed opens her book with an anecdote about losing her boots while on the trail. It is a tale of continuing against adversity. T***p too has continued against adversity, but he brags about the possessions he has amassed.

How else might we compare Strayed and T***p? Strayed notes that her name is a kind of aptronym when she writes, on the first page of the prologue:

I was alone. I was barefoot. I was twenty-six years old and an orphan too. An actual stray, a stranger had observed a couple of weeks before, when I'd told him my name and explained how very loose I was in the world.

T***p's name too is perhaps a kind of aptronym -- see definition of trumpery.

Strayed is an admirable writer, but hardly the first to find life direction through the steady pounding of feet on the trail. One of her notable predecessors, Peace Pilgrim, walked almost continuously for 28 years, beginning in 1953.

In fact, Peace Pilgrim resembles Suelo (see the Sundeen book above). A 2013 article about Peace Pilgrim on NPR describes her thus: "For 28 years — the time she spent on her journey — she never used money. She gave new meaning to the word minimalist, wearing the same clothes every day: blue pants and a blue tunic that held everything she owned: a pen, a comb, a toothbrush and a map. That's it."


Tom Zoellner

Continuing the theme of travel, we next recommend Tom Zoellner's Train: Riding the Rails That Created the Modern World. Zoellner uses the experience of riding on a train -- what he calls "train sublime" -- as a metaphor for a bygone America: "These secret pleasures of a railroad summon forth a vision of a sweet pastness, a lost national togetherness."

But far from dwelling in nostalgia, Zoellner focuses on this applied miracle of steam engineering in creating the conditions of the modern world, where remote people can brush elbows with one another. Zoellner himself rides the MetroRail forty-seven minutes from his home in Los Angeles to his job at Chapman University in Orange, California, one county over.

How might we view Mr. T***p in light of the message of Zoellner's Train? Mr. T***p conspicuously travels in a large airplane sporting his last name in large block letters. He deprives himself of the camaraderie that Mr. Zoellner describes: "...on the train, one is almost never alone."

Finally, let us note that Mr. Zoellner has none of the world-weariness of Ambrose Bierce, in the Devil's Dictionary:

RAILROAD, n. The chief of many mechanical devices enabling us to get away from where we are to where we are no better off. For this purpose the railroad is held in highest favor by the optimist, for it permits him to make the transit with great expedition.