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I Must Not Think Bad Thoughts: Drive-by Essays on American Dread, American Dreams Hardcover – April 6, 2012
Best Books of the Year So Far in fiction, nonfiction, mysteries, children's books, and much more.
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"Whether writing about a severed head, toy gun lust, Lady Gaga, the Pope, Facebook, or Madonna's big toe, Dery indefatigably explores those dark corners of our collective, subconscious thoughts. [...] [A] masterful mash-up of personal history, literary study, and philosophical rumination..." - Kate Walker, Notes for Headstones
"Dery wants to turn society over and shine some light on the dark, crawly things growing underneath it---and us."
[T]hese short, sharp, well-turned pieces...will make you look at the world in a whole new and rewardingly disturbing way."
- Deborah Sussman, Phoenix New Times
"Do not turn squeamish from the many considerations of death that lurk within—vampires, tombs, disease, corruption of many varieties. Mark Dery’s restless and stylish essay is concerned with one thing only—what it means to be alive in America." —Richard Rodriguez, author of Brown: The Last Discovery of America
"The bebop rhythms of Mark Dery’s prose reflect an intellectual excitement that is rare among contemporary cultural essayists. Reading him is like ingesting a powerful jolt of espresso." —Ron Rosenbaum, author of Explaining Hitler and The Shakespeare Wars
"Always provocative, often humorous, Dery has a keen eye for absurdity, tragedy, and everything in between. " —Publishers Weekly
"Mark Dery is an intellectually challenging writer. He makes few concessions to his readers. He has high expectations...He is witty. He is amusing. He is stimulating. The essays will force you to examine ideas you more than likely have never thought about before." —Blogcritics.org
"What makes Dery such an appealing tour guide through all these bad thoughts of his is that he's right there with us, trying to answer the tough questions, and willing to turn his probing mind and eye on himself, too." —Phoenix New Times
"Mark Dery has just published I Must Not Think Bad Thoughts: Drive-by Essays on American Dread, American Dreams, a long-awaited compendium of his oft-brutal, usually funny, and always-brilliant writings on the curious, bizarre, and downright dark crevices of our culture. Look no further than this new book for your next monstrous dose of Dery." —Boing Boing
"Whether you're starting your spring break or just slacking off work for another week, there's no better way to wile away your idle hours than reading through Mark Dery's new collection of essays I Must Not Think Bad Thoughts." —Reason
"Dery is willing to tackle some tough and controversial subject matter—the Holocaust ‘industry’, for example—and examine it with rigor and willingness to upset conventional or comfortable opinion and piety." —PopMatters
"Dery invokes Hunter S Thompson, but not as a prankster - rather as a stylist and satirist, in a tradition that runs from Swift through Twain and implicitly on to Dery himself." —The Word
About the Author
Mark Dery is a cultural critic and journalist whose writing has appeared in the New York Times Magazine, Rolling Stone, Wired, Cabinet, Bookforum, and Boing Boing, among other publications. His books include Flame Wars: The Discourse of Cyberculture; The Pyrotechnic Insanitarium: American Culture on the Brink; and the widely republished pamphlet Culture Jamming. He is writing a biography of Edward Gorey.
Bruce Sterling is a science fiction author whose novels include Distraction, Zeitgeist, Holy Fire, and The Caryatids.
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Top Customer Reviews
Dery is hideously progressive, open-minded and New York avant-art-mongering, so be ready for that. If you're a news and/or culture junkie of a liberal/urban stripe, Dery's books will, I promise, wind up living on the same shelf as your Taibbi, Chris Hedges, Noam Chomsky and Chalmers Johnson, not because of the implicit liberal slant but because you'll A) learn a bunch of cool stuff you never thought you wanted to know, and B) help your brain put out some psychic fires vis-à-vis our teetering American culture. This guy should be the content manager of google.com.
For instance, go reality-check his essay on Lady Gaga, which I've mentioned in a few of my own incoherent ravings on Big Corporate Music. After months of exposure to Gaga-this and Gaga-that vomited from the great media Matrix that keeps us all in line (you remember all that Gaga overexposure, right, before Katy Perry took it to a whole `nother level?), Dery - and I would have personally warned him not to do this if we were better acquainted - accidentally read a Sasha Frere-Jones article on Gaga. Frere-Jones's M.O. has always been an especially bovine blend of milquetoast-flavored suckup-ism toward and reverence for Corporate Rock.Read more ›
How is it that Dery is able to produce this uncanny feeling of identification? You get the sense that, while the rest of us were living the zeitgeist, Dery was holding a stethoscope to its heart. His essays are EKGs showing that our pulse goes haywire in the presence of extremes -- perversion, violence, satanism. In an introduction, Dery declares that it is "the writer's job" to "think bad thoughts": "to wander footloose through the mind's labyrinth, following the thread of any idea that reels you in, no matter how arcane or depraved, obscene or blasphemous, untouchably controversial, irreducibly complex, or preposterous on its face.Read more ›
And what of the contents of these electronic-disinformation-sea-bobbing vessels? Well, if bemused and fascinating musings on subjects as diverse as the homoeroticism of George W. Bush, how Lady Gaga stands up in comparison to previous gender-and-agenda-bender bi-curious rockers, current zombie apocalypse obsession, Dadaist spam poetry, the homosexuality quotient of the tiresome Super Bowl (Dery does not shy away from any sexual matter, straight or not), Mayan apocalypse cultists, fundamentalist religion pamphleteers, the suicide note as a literary subgenre, the fascist-identifying proclivities of Prince Harry, and on and on (you get the general hyper-eclectic-discussions gist) interest you, then you will absolutely love this book.Read more ›
Most Recent Customer Reviews
Nice to see someone giving a shout out to the great American band, X.Published 3 months ago by peppergomez
I am an adjunct professor of writing at a small, public, NJ liberal arts college. I teach, mostly, argumentative writing (argument & persuasion the class is called) and we have... Read morePublished on February 18, 2014 by M. W. Landis
A walk through the sideshow of American cultural and intellectual life in the first decade of the 21st century. Fun.Published on February 17, 2013 by Kindle Customer
Fascinating, provocative and compared with books of this type - funny and remarkably jargon-free. Particular stand-outs include a deconstruction of faux-weirdo Lady Gaga and the... Read morePublished on October 9, 2012 by Hieronymus Utter Bosch
Crucial essays. Yes, you do want to understand what zombies mean, as a cultural phenomenon, and chances are your average pop critic won't be able to properly place them in the... Read morePublished on July 8, 2012 by Democritus
The Ludovico Technique is a form of compulsory deprogramming featured in both the book and film A Clockwork Orange. Read morePublished on April 15, 2012 by Ted Enik
The cover of Bad Thoughts is delicious, as is the title. And the foreword by Bruce Sterling. The writing is like poetry -- worth reading for its own sake, regardless of the... Read morePublished on April 12, 2012 by Howard Rheingold
I'll be honest: the first thing that attracted me to I Must Not Think Bad Thoughts is Mark Dery's rather poetic dedication: "To J.G. Read morePublished on April 11, 2012 by Dr Nathan
If there is one impulse animating the wildly discursive essays in Dery's new collection, I Must Not Think Bad Thoughts, it is a desire to reveal the gulf between received truth and... Read morePublished on March 30, 2012 by orli van mourik