There is a feeling of nostalgia that surrounds the idea of bohemia, that place where art and ideas and alternative thinking become the focal point of life. To most, bohemia is gone -- erased by the lifestyle of the 1990s and the too many, too fast influences of modern living.
Ann Powers, an acclaimed pop critic for "The New York Times" and one of today's most notable authorities on alternative culture, claims in this powerful and personal chronicle that bohemia is alive and well in America -- nurturing new lifestyles and defining our tastes in art, politics, sexual mores, and all matters cultural. "Weird Like Us" sets the record straight on alternative America -- a new bohemia whose dynamic citizens are re-creating traditional modes of building families, falling in love, having sex, and making careers, reinventing our shared values from the ground up.
So how different are these bohemians? Through stories from her own life and those of her fellow alternative Americans -- artists, writers, entrepreneurs, feminists, cyberoutlaws, punk rockers, politicos, and queers -- Powers traces the evolution of this world and where it has go
"Powers, a veteran of the Village Voice, and pop music critic for the New York Times, surveys the "floating world" that has served as bohemia in America during the past 20 years. No longer anchored to a specific place, bohemia is, she believes, a state of mind that consistently challenges the premises of mainstream society. Drawing on her early experiences in Seattle and San Francisco, Powers assesses fresh approaches to everything from family life to the work ethic. She describes communal living arrangements that achieve the emotional support conventional family households so often fail to provide. She charts the liberating impact the gay rights movement has had on society at large, and she argues that Ecstasy and indie music are just as influential now as LSD and rock and roll were in the past. Powers also believes that attitudes toward work and creativity promulgated by slackers, a "cultured proletariat," have altered the business world. Ultimately, Powers' candid and savvy inquiry reveals how personal decisions, however bohemian, coalesce into positive social change. --Donna Seaman"
From Booklist, Copyright (c) American Library Association. Used with permission.
Publisher's Weekly Review:
"Coined to characterize Parisian cafe denizens in the 1830s, the term "bohemian" now refers somewhat vaguely to a lifestyle or attitude that lies outside the mainstream. An acclaimed pop critic for the New York Times, Powers (co-editor, Rock She Wrote) attempts to get inside the soul of modern-day bohemia but ends up muddling its definition even more. Approaching her subject with a mix of techniques, she interviews sex workers, porn purveyors and others among her former roommates; reminisces nostalgically about San Francisco group houses in the 1980s; and, least compellingly, attempts to reveal the glory of today's bohemians in a cultural exploration limited mostly to her own experiences and those of her friends. In the journalistic passages, Powers displays her fine skills and allows her interviewees to shine. When she switches to memoir, the result is mildly engaging, although it flounders when she starts offering such details as who in the household did dishes most often. Yet even a digression about a great chair she once pulled from the trash is better honed than her messy forays into cultural theory, which are full of contradictions and unsubstantiated, sweeping statements. Bohemia is "disgustingly dead," she declares at the outset, then opines at the book's conclusion that it may be within all of us. Powers's "bohemian America" is more a clubhouse for an elite fringe than a country-within-a-country. Those hoping to find true insight into alternative culture should look elsewhere. Agent, Sarah Lazin. (Feb.) (c) Copyright PWxyz, LLC. All rights reserved"
(c) Copyright PWxyz, LLC. All rights reserved