Wednesday, November 16, 2011

Freak Nation

Freak Nation
by Kate Stevens [306.1 Ste]

Equal parts fascinating and frustrating, this volume is a guide to over 100 odd or extreme American subcultures. The fascinating parts are some of the factoids that Stevens provides about odd groups, both big and small. Curious to see the basics about such well-known subcultures as Trekkies, Model Railroaders, Survivalists, Deadheads, Conspiracy Theorists, Tea Partiers and Hackers? Look no further -- each entry features information on each group about: "also known as", origins of the culture, "how to recognize", where the culture exists, who the "heroes" or figureheads of the culture are, most distinctive traits, "biggest controversy", "biggest misconception about", buzzwords of the culture, and what the signs are to identify minor fans, major fans and super fans of that culture. The "frustrating" part of this book, for me, is its organization -- it is NOT in alphabetical order, with entries instead being grouped by categories (Collectibles, Fashion, Art, etc.). The book does not feature an index at the back to cross-reference by "group name" or interests. While much of the content is presented non-judgmentally, the author does inject some rather snarky comments hear and there about some of the specific groups. There were also some fairly obviously subcultural groups which were not included, for no obvious reason. Despite my complaints, however, I enjoyed reading this book, picking profiled groups at random, and for readers looking for a relatively light and amusing way to learn about odd subcultures, this is a fun and quick read. -- recommended by Scott C. - Bennett Martin Public Library

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