Don't Worry, Be Happy

Robert Sullivan is the author of a trio of intriguing, highly regarded books-Meadowlands, A Whale Hunt, and Rats-which though diverse in subject matter are driven by the same desire to explore the arbitrary lines we humans draw between what is “natural,” and thereby intrinsically deserving of our respect and protection, and what is “unnatural”: that is, those creatures and places beyond the pale, at best ignored, as in the case of the Jersey swamplands, or, in the case of rats, exterminated. In his latest book, How Not to Get Rich (Or Why Being Bad Off Isn’t So Bad), Sullivan turns his attention to what might be considered the most unnatural activity known to the homeland of free enterprise, individual striving, and worship of the Golden Calf-the active pursuit of unwealth.

Salting his book with quotes and bon mots from, among others, Thomas Merton, Henry David Thoreau, Dorothy Day, Alcuin, Sophocles Publius Sirius, Emily Dickinson, and Groucho Marx, Sullivan eschews a whimsical, half-baked approach to not being rich in favor of practical, hard-nosed advice for those seeking to ward off the infamy of unbridled prosperity. Although he hasn’t designed one of those twelve-steps programs dear to the hearts of the self-help/self-improvement set, he has come up with basic approaches that should, if put into practice, turn the climb up the ladder of success into a tumble down the cellar stairs.

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About the Author

Peter Quinn, a frequent contributor, is the author Dry Bones and Banished Children of Eve (both from Overlook Press), among other books.