This candid and witty exposé of American subculture features author Evan Wright’s autobiographical observations on such sultry subjects as UFC wrestling, Aryan Nations, the music industry, and pornography shoots. These loosely related articles form a picaresque tapestry of American identity, a patchwork road trip that is enthralling, funny, and occasionally harrowing. Performer Paul Boehmer (Star Trek: Voyager, The Thomas Crown Affair) lends an air of stoicism to these ribald revelations. Where Wright’s reminiscence might, from time to time, come across as excessively barbed or snarky, Boehmer manages to level off the edges through his knack for understated, easygoing good humor.
Sometimes frightening, usually profane, and often darkly comic, Hella Nation is Evan Wright's meticulously observed tour of the jagged edges of all those other Americas hiding in plain sight amid the nation's malls and gated communities.
©2009 Evan Wright; (P)2009 Tantor
"Vivid confirmation of the arrival of a major chronicler of those who live on or beyond the margins of the American mainstream." (Kirkus)
mostly nonfiction listener
This is the sort of book we should be assigning in our sociology classes. Wright is an ambassador to the marginalized, an embedded reporter with America's freaks, degenerates, and psychopaths. We spend time with right wing movie producers, anarchists, alcoholic skate board punks, and HIV positive porn stars.
Durkheim taught us that by defining deviance we construct what is normal. Hella Nation would work well in the classroom as our students could engage in systematic study of social organization and structure through the entertaining lens of drug addicts and white supremacists. These essays were originally published in Vanity Fair and Rolling Stone, and the book does not always hang together in terms of narrative (an editor willing to cut would have helped out as well). Despite its flaws I'd nominate Hella Nation to our curriculum.
Narrator is pretty generic but veers towards stereotype when doing women, black and southern voices. The book is filled with interesting stories, more than making up for the performance shortcomings.
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