Weird Like Us by Ann Powers, Hardcover | Barnes & Noble
Weird Like Us

Weird Like Us

4.0 1
by Ann Powers

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


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 gone. The observations and attitudes that fill these pages will touch many who long for this lifestyle, and will shock others. No longer confined to coffee shops in North Beach or Greenwich Village, bohemia is thriving from coast to coast.

In this wonderfully written memoir, Ann Powers writes of an alternatie culture that has never before been fully presented—one that takes into account the real politics, real feelings, and genuine creativity of those who transofrmed the dying counterculture of the sixties into a mode of artistic and spiritual survival in the nineties. In doing so, she has written a vibrant, engrossing take on a culture and its people.

Editorial Reviews

BUST Magazine
Powers' writing is truly enjoyable; you'll want to savor each chapter just to have more time to enjoy the humor, the honesty and the realization that our lives are significant to America's history.
James Sullivan
...Weird Like Us is a call to arms, one that finds the author defending her decision to use her bohemian expertise to earn herself a respected "straight" living. Her defense is artful.
Book Magazine March/April 2000
Publishers Weekly - Publisher's Weekly
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.) Copyright 1999 Cahners Business Information.
Library Journal
Does bohemia still exist? Powers, rock critic for the New York Times, says "Yes." "It's everywhere somebody opens a used-record shop, a laundromat-caf , and a punk rock bar...a homeland hidden right in the middle of today's America." In this, her first book, Powers attempts to chart the outlines of this new bohemia by recounting the adventures of her circle of friends in the 1980s and 1990s as they navigated relationships, sexuality, jobs, consumerism, and drugs. Concerning the latter, she writes: "I am not willing to say that conscientious drug use must be part of everyone's healthy self-development...But I do think that the judgments society passes can be as habitual and careless as the habits of smokers, sniffers, and shooters." The book closes with an effusive description of the "audacious" party Powers and her boyfriend, Village Voice rock critic Eric Weisbard, held to commemorate their ten-year anniversary as a couple. Although Weird Like Us offers some genuine insights into contemporary mores, it suffers from an excessive level of authorial self-preoccupation. This is one of those books that may quickly seem dated.--Kent Worcester, Marymount Manhattan Coll., New York Copyright 1999 Cahners Business Information.
James Poniewozik
Weird Like Us is, thank God, no navel-gazing memoir. Powers instead turns her journalist's skills -- the very work that gave her access to the straight world and a mortgage -- to go back and report on her own life, asking old friends to explain their life choices and determine how their memories of la vie de Boh�me differ from hers. The result is an elegantly argued piece of cultural criticism, a thorough if sometimes dry work of social reportage that salvages the mundane, little-examined details of slacker life. It's a heartfelt but cleareyed bohemian rhapsody.
The New York Times Book Review
Ann Powers is one of the truly great music critics around.

Product Details

Simon & Schuster
Publication date:
Product dimensions:
6.40(w) x 9.30(h) x 1.10(d)

What People are saying about this

Jonathan Lethem
Weird Like Us is a treat both intoxicating and nutritious, like a granola bar with an absinthe creme center. It is itself full of the values Ann Powers finds everywhere in plain sight—non-conformist honesty, irreverent humor, and perverse rigor in pursuit of meaningful freedon and aesthetic bliss—true American values to be sure. Reading it is like gaining a bunch of wonderfully flawed and essential new friends, no the least of them being Powers herself.
Katha Pollitt
Ann Powers takes us on an intimate, thought-provoking, and surprising joyride through her own private bohemia—and America's. I loved it!
Lynne Tillman
Ann Powers puts the Y to Gen X, and, using lived experience boldly, explodes complacencies and explores quiter rebellions, America's new frontiers. Weird Like Us is heartfelt, engaged, fun, smart, brave, and honest. It's risky Ann Powers's audacious gift to us.

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