Sunday, November 04, 2012

BC2012: Freak Nation by Kate Stevens

This book is "A Field Guide to 101 of the MOST Odd, Extreme, and Outrageous American Subcultures." Well, it isn't really. I mean, many of these subcultures sound pretty bland to me. Jugglers? Hot Rodders? Junior Leaguers? Not exactly odd, extreme, or outrageous. I would have preferred some really unusual people like Looners (balloon fetishists). The author also has omitted hate groups; I'd consider the Ku Klux Klan or the Michigan Militia to be much more odd, extreme, and outrageous than Model Railroaders or Libertarians.

Aside from the ordinariness of a few subcultures, Freak Nation is an interesting and funny book. Stevens runs through the same list of topics for each group, including who they are, where to find them, how to recognize them, biggest controversy, biggest misconception about, et al. She also briefly describes how to tell a fan, a geek, and a superfreak in each subculture. To use Libertarians as a humorous example:
  • Sign of fan: Wraps self in flag.
  • Sign of geek: Wraps self in flag, then burns flag just because it should be within citizen's right to do so.
  • Sign of superfreak: Wraps self in flag, burns flag, objects to taxes on purchase of new flag.
I've read similar books about groups that are more "out there", but Freak Nation succeeds in covering a broad range of unusual people in an informative and amusing way. It's a sort of Cliffs Notes for subcultures.

The subtitle of this book is apt because this is the 101st book I have completed in 2012, tying my total from 2009. I honestly didn't plan it that way!

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