Roughing It

Ted Conover on life off-grid

Courtesy of Knopf
Courtesy of Knopf

In Colorado’s San Luis Valley, five-acre lots of land go for less than $5,000, but protection against marauding cattle, blistering winds, and distrustful neighbors isn’t included. In 2017, Ted Conover began spending part of the year on the high prairie, volunteering with a local organization called La Puente, which tries to keep valley residents from falling into homelessness during the cold Colorado winters. Soon enough, Conover—who has previously explored the lives of prison guards, railroad tramps, and Mexican migrants—bought a parcel of land and immersed himself in life on this margin of society, where contradiction and conspiracy theories thrive. His new book, Cheap Land Colorado, is a window into a world that is too often overlooked.

Go beyond the episode:

Tune in every week to catch interviews with the liveliest voices from literature, the arts, sciences, history, and public affairs; reports on cutting-edge works in progress; long-form narratives; and compelling excerpts from new books. Hosted by Stephanie Bastek.

Subscribe: iTunes • Stitcher • Google Play • Acast

Download the audio here (right click to “save link as …”)

Have suggestions for projects you’d like us to catch up on, or writers you want to hear from? Send us a note: podcast [at] theamericanscholar [dot] org. And rate us on iTunes! Our theme music was composed by Nathan Prillaman.

Permission required for reprinting, reproducing, or other uses.

Stephanie Bastek is the senior editor of the Scholar and the producer/host of the Smarty Pants podcast.


Please enter a valid email address
That address is already in use
The security code entered was incorrect
Thanks for signing up