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The Power of Amateurs, Dreamers and Rebels

by Alissa Quart

Pub Date: Aug. 6th, 2013
ISBN: 978-1-59558-875-3
Publisher: New Press

The ways in which a cross-section of intrepid renegades finds contentment and success by swimming upstream.

Journalist Quart (Hothouse Kids: The Dilemma of the Gifted Child, 2006) highlights a host of individuals she views as part of a continuing, modern rebellion movement that’s incrementally restructuring the country from the inside out. They are the social outsiders who’ve created an “America within America.” The author deftly examines how these cultural oddities and outcasts bond through their separate differences yet remain determined to find common ground, whether through agricultural breakthroughs, mental deficiencies or the distillation of their creative preferences. The examples she presents are as diverse as the message of superfunctional nonconformity they are intent on disbursing to society at large. Quart describes time spent with a group of “Mad Priders” who dismiss the conventional clinical process for diagnosing and treating the mentally ill; a female-to-male transgendered activist; an autistic woman fighting to redefine how mainstream society views the “neurodiverse” community; substantive, un-Hollywood film collectives broadening the independent genre; and enterprising agricultural and animal rights innovators developing “faux meat.” Quart’s associations enhance and illuminate the plight of the free-thinker; even within the brevity of a paragraph, the author generously commemorates even more outliers: the right-to-lifers, married gay couples, DIY birthers, gun stockpilers and the “freegans” who dumpster-dive for meals. Quart asserts that while “their trust in authority faltered and they fell back on their own intelligence to survive,” the spectrum of these individuals’ reach in society is just beginning to manifest itself.

A thought-provoking examination of counterculture through the eyes of those living life just outside the conventional box.