Shoshana, December 29, 2009 (view all comments by Shoshana)
This memoir-cum-treatise is hard to classify because Nugent mixes genres. Part memoir, part sociology, part speculation, it does not cohere as much as this nerd reviewer would like.
Speaking of this reviewer, I must say that Nugent does a poor job of characterizing female nerds. I know that I'm a nerd because I was told so; just as Jews may agonize about whether they're really Jewish, and nerds may endlessly dissect their relationship to nerdiness, the bottom line is, when they come for the Jews, will they come for you? The answer is, when they come for the nerds, they will come for me, because the minutiae of determining nerd versus something else is a nicety of no import to Those Who Come for Nerds.
Nugent, by the way, dabbles in nerd-dom but attempts to renounce it and distance himself from it. What a nerd.
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Scribner Book Company -
"Publishers Weekly Review"
by Publishers Weekly,
"In his charming and disarmingly serious study of the history of the 'nerd' in popular culture and throughout modern history, Nugent (Elliott Smith and the Big Nothing) succeeds in crafting a nuanced discussion without resorting to smugness or excessive cleverness. His prose is straightforward, but the writing is never dry, as Nugent maintains a brisk pace by chasing an entertaining series of tangents across short chapters. Discrete pockets of nerd-dom are carefully observed and analyzed, with an eye for connections that lead to unusual places. While there are engaging sections about more obvious nerd subjects like the rise of online gaming and the history of American science-fiction clubs, Nugent takes his book in surprising directions, such as the ethnic implications of the 'nerd' categorization, particularly in regard to Jewish and Asian stereotypes. In one chapter, Nugent finds correspondence between nerdiness and people with Asperger's syndrome, astutely drawing comparisons between the socializing problems experienced by both groups and positing that many of those considered 'nerds' historically might in fact be on the autism spectrum. Another unexpected detour, this one into the intense subculture of high school and college debaters, turns into an extraordinarily poignant meditation on the friendships engendered by shared passions. Swinging ably from personal anecdotes to historical perspective, Nugent's exploration of outcasts is a triumph." Publishers Weekly (Starred Review) (Copyright Reed Business Information, Inc.)
by Chuck Klosterman, author of Sex, Drugs, and Cocoa Puffs,
"American Nerd is very funny and consistently smart, but it's also mildly controversial — I'm not sure I've ever seen these kinds of cogent, intuitively accurate arguments made about any 'type' of modern person. Benjamin Nugent is just weird enough to be absolutely right."
by Paul Feig, creator of Freaks and Geeks,
"The coolest book about nerds ever written. Heck, one of the coolest books ever written, period. Benjamin Nugent is the Richard Dawkins of geekdom. Outsiders of the world, this is required reading. Know your roots!"
American Nerd explores the concept of nerdiness and the history of the nerd subculture: how they developed and how they have manifested in media, literature, schools, the workplace, and in the general public.
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