American Nerd, by Benjamin Nugent

Such a promising title: American Nerd: The Story of My People. I was super-excited to get this book — loved the idea — a chronicling of nerd culture in America (and beyond, really), and with supporting quotes from Klosterman & Feig. But while there was some sorta interesting stuff in there, mostly I found it to be sorta boring & esoteric. Not boring & esoteric in a Frink/Comic Book Store Guy kind of way, but boring & esoteric in more like an analysis of 19th century literature (which is actually in there). For me, loved the concept, didn’t love the book. But for the title alone, high marks for Nugent.

One comment

  1. I haven't read the whole thing yet. Skimmed thru most of it, and read in whole the chapter on the Los Angeles Science Fantasy Society (LASFS), with which I have some familiarity. Nugent's descriptions of LASFS, its facilities, its environs, and its people, have an oddly affectionate quality given that they are also both disparaging and highly inaccurate. I get the impression from reading the chapter that he visited the club once, briefly talked to a few people, and then stood in the corner during the general meeting, composing in his journal while occasionally glancing up to take in undetailed snapshots of the crowd. His account very much reminds me of the parable of the 3 blind men and the elephant. I think if he'd allowed himself to become a bit more familiar with the people about whom he was writing, Mr. Nugent would have discovered a very different kind of elephant than the one he described in his book.

    (Just FYI, the “lab coat” is in reality a windbreaker, the british accent is real, and the Chicken Little poster has long since been swapped out for a picture of the Hubble telescope. The weekly patron saint is cheered with a hip-hip-hoorah, and the special orders of business (usually obituaries) are observed with a moment of respectful silence.)