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Twelve by Twelve: A One-Room Cabin Off the…

Twelve by Twelve: A One-Room Cabin Off the Grid and Beyond the American…

by William Powers

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1721198,370 (3.29)10
  1. 00
    Off the Grid: Inside the Movement for More Space, Less Government, and True Independence in Modern America by Nick Rosen (charliemarie)
    charliemarie: Nick Rosen's book is an interesting survey of different ways people live off grid, while William Powers' is an insightful memoir of one man's experience of off grid living.

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I wanted more of the "how to" and less of the philosophy. I enjoyed the philosophy to a point and then it started to sound repetitive. I read about 1/2.
  wrightja2000 | Sep 6, 2018 |
It's not often that I read a book and decide that I need to own a physical copy of my own. However, I feel like this work is so rich with life-lessons and philosophy that I'll be reading it many more times throughout my life. It may seem strange to give it only 4 stars but read it yourself to see why. ( )
  bjoelle5 | Feb 10, 2016 |
I started this but didn't get a chance to finish it before it was due back at the library (with a hold waitlist). My husband got to it first and really enjoyed it, so I do want to get back to it someday.
  chessakat | Feb 5, 2016 |
Admittedly, Powers is in a perfect position when he puts himself into the 12 x 12 position---an accomplished author---with enough savings so that he can actually separate himself and try this experiment. I agree with a lot of his thinking but is it possible, with a world that is quite full of billions of people for much of the world to move in this direction as fast as it probably needs to? Maybe, especially where the populations already live a "simple" life successfully, as long as the corporations of the world don't ruin them. I'm curious to read his new book, New Slow City. To what extent, and, what would happen, if suddenly everyone DID live this way....is it possible or only to degrees. I guess the truth is that without living that way to some degree, there is a very tough future.

Hmmmm---just reading some of the other reviews, I must agree with some of their comments. I decided to ignore his relationship with his child---it's a tough sell. ( )
  nyiper | Jan 20, 2015 |
Powers writes this as a sort of introduction to sustainable and conscientious living since he presents the concepts like they are some revolutionary ideas, instead of really being several decades old and having already been better said before by many other authors such as Thoreau, Whitman, Emerson, [a:Edward Abbey|37218|Edward Abbey|http://photo.goodreads.com/authors/1217977657p2/37218.jpg], [a:Aldo Leopold|43828|Aldo Leopold|http://photo.goodreads.com/authors/1238563948p2/43828.jpg], [a:Alan Watts|2974364|Alan Watts|http://www.goodreads.com/assets/nophoto/nophoto-U-50x66.jpg], [a:Derrick Jensen|34283|Derrick Jensen|http://photo.goodreads.com/authors/1229313654p2/34283.jpg], [a:Howard Zinn|1899|Howard Zinn|http://photo.goodreads.com/authors/1245211489p2/1899.jpg], [a:Noam Chomsky|2476|Noam Chomsky|http://photo.goodreads.com/authors/1206713478p2/2476.jpg], [a:John Zerzan|252644|John Zerzan|http://photo.goodreads.com/authors/1268698153p2/252644.jpg], [a:Robert Pirsig|401|Robert M. Pirsig|http://photo.goodreads.com/authors/1198586972p2/401.jpg], [a:Carlos Castaneda|8088|Carlos Castaneda|http://photo.goodreads.com/authors/1223890018p2/8088.jpg], [a:Thom Hartmann|1433|Thom Hartmann|http://photo.goodreads.com/authors/1205327892p2/1433.jpg], [a:Daniel Quinn|10330|Daniel Quinn|http://photo.goodreads.com/authors/1209401415p2/10330.jpg], [a:Michael Pollan|2121|Michael Pollan|http://photo.goodreads.com/authors/1258275549p2/2121.jpg], [a:Eric Schlosser|380|Eric Schlosser|http://photo.goodreads.com/authors/1279637156p2/380.jpg] and [a:Eduardo Galeano|859172|Eduardo Hughes Galeano|http://photo.goodreads.com/authors/1261318889p2/859172.jpg], for example.

So at 260 pages and being less profound than all of these other authors' works, it can only work as an introduction to the subject. The problem with the book as an introduction to the McWorld layperson is that Powers´ writing style is incredibly off-putting: not only is he completely pretentious but he labors over a lot of repetitive spiritual mumbo-jumbo that taxed the patience of even somebody like me, who more or less believes that kind of stuff.

So if the book is not going to add anything significant to the present canon on the topic, and it won't succeed in serving as an entry-point to newcomers, a certain question is begged, namely: what does this even offer to the world? I can only suppose that the main answer is that it is supposed to represent a sort of novel take on the subject, based on a real-life concrete example of somebody living sustainably and conscientiously. The only problem with this is that in the very preface Powers makes it clear that he's only staying there for 40 days (during which time we are meant to believe that he undergoes some sort of radical and profound transoformation akin to his overused cocoon metaphor), which means he is only a tourist in the sustainable world and has no real authority to lecture us on it whatsoever.

As for conscientiousness, I have serious reservations with taking advice on the subject from anybody who is an absentee father of a young child (and reveals this fact in a sort of shameless plot twist halfway through the book). To be sure, Powers has come up with a very convenient justification for why his absence is actually good for his daughter. But this is the problem with so many from the NewAge/Hippie/Liberal walk: a lot of times their "values" and "reasoning" are just convenient ways to excuse their living in the most self-absorbed way possible.

So if it doesn't work as an addition to the canon, or an introduction to the canon, or a credible piece of novelty, what is left? I'll stop beating around the bush and state that it strikes me as a very opportunistic, masturbatory and convenient writing exercise. Powers appears to have stumbled onto a veritable goldmine: a topic intriguing to both casual and knowledgeable readers alike, and one that he has the perfect excuse to write on despite his lack of expertise on the subject. This is because the real expert is a woman (the actual resident of the 12x12) who has no desire to write about it. Of course Powers is quick to point out in the beginning that he had no intention to write about it upon being invited to stay there, although he later reveals quite casually that he has taken his laptop to the cabin and is writing daily (really roughing it, I guess). Pardon me if I don't fully believe his claim.

All in all, it's not as pretentious as something by [a:Daniel Pinchbeck|1201|Daniel Pinchbeck|http://photo.goodreads.com/authors/1211533762p2/1201.jpg], who has written two of the most obnoxious memoirs I've ever read. But it is still plenty obnoxious. I don't think I can recommend it to anyone, and this despite being from the area and proud of what is going on here in NC. ( )
1 vote blake.rosser | Jul 28, 2013 |
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You need not leave your room. Remain sitting at your table and listen. You need not even listen, simply wait. You need not even wait, julst learn to become quiet and still, and solitary. The world will freely offer itself to you unmasked. It has no choice; it will roll in ecstasy at your feet.
- - Franz Kafka
There is another world, but it is in this one.
- - Paul Eluard
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"I know a doctor who makes eleven thousand dollars a year," my mother said.
Part of the joy of simplifying one's material life is that you don't have to work long hours to buy and maintain a bunch of stuff.
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A tale of one gifted writer's attempt to find balance in a world in crisis.J?ohn Robbins.

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