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For his thirtieth birthday, Hal Niedzviecki received what his parents thought was the perfect card for their rebellious son. On the front it depicted a crowd scene-dour grey men in suits, hats, and overcoats. Inside it said: "Happy Birthday to a non-conformist."Niedzviecki had a moment of crisis. "If I'm a rebel sanctioned by society, encouraged by my parents, and cheered on by Hallmark, what is left to rebel against?"
In Hello, I'm Special, the guru of indie culture offers up a barrage of facts, observations, and arguments that point to the extinction of the non-conformist and the rise of individuality as the new conformity. In chronicling his singular encounters as an editor and pop culture explorer, his meditations touch on everything from religion to karaoke, from declining birth rates to Celebrity Worship Syndrome, from Mississauga's famed Backyard Wrestling Federation to Friday night Sabbath in Atlanta, Georgia. He unearths the amateur underground-zines, People Cards, the Trampoline Hall Speakers' Series-and shines a spotlight on the self-help industry, Canadian Idol, Hollywood, and mainstream media. The result is a smart, witty, and impassioned argument that shatters the you-can-do-anything pop myth and exposes the paradox of individuality.
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Hal Niedzviecki's writings on culture have appeared in newspapers and magazines across North America. He is the founder of Broken Pencil, a magazine covering zine culture and the indie arts. In addition to three novels and a story collection, Niedzviecki is the author of Hello, I'm Special and We Want Some Too: Underground Desire and the Reinvention of Mass Culture.Review:
" . . . Niedzviecki is just like you -- a savvy cultural critic . . . part disillusioned memoir, part rant, part astute criticism . . . " -- Michael Leaverton, SF Weekly, May 2006
" . . . because of mass media’s infiltration into all aspects of our lives, everyone thinks they’re Special." -- Bookslut.com
"A blend of cultural analysis, reporting and memoir, Hello, I'm Special is full of sharp and funny observations..." -- Salon.com
"Equal parts Jerry Seinfeld and Thomas Frank... .Niedzviecki... gives us everything that makes his brand of literary genius so... 'special'." -- Tikkun Magazine
"Hal Niedzviecki... is one of the wisest, funniest and most acute cultural critics writing today." -- Naomi Klein, author of No Logo
"Niedzviecki holds a scalpel to this social monster with analytic precision that evokes Malcolm Gladwell . . . " -- Adrienne LaFrance, WBUR Boston, April 2006
"Niedzviecki's examinations yield fertile insights, without sounding overly pretentious." -- Gerry Donaghy, Powell’s Bookstore, May 2006
"Using case studies... the book links society's emphasis on celebrity to everything from anorexia to exorcisms." -- 7x7 Magazine
"Who will bear the burden of being dazzled by the wondrous presence of our countless wondrous individuals?" -- Paul Reidinger, San Francisco Bay Guardian, May 2006
"Witty and wise, part journalist, part theorist, Niedzviecki takes up two long-running American themes – conformity and individuality..." -- San Francisco Chronicle
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Book Description Penguin Canada, 2004. Condition: New. book. Seller Inventory # M0143013653