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the Complete Review
the complete review - current events

American Nomad

Steve Erickson

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To purchase American Nomad

Title: American Nomad
Author: Steve Erickson
Genre: Current Events
Written: 1997
Length: 253 pages
Availability: American Nomad - US
American Nomad - UK
American Nomad - Canada

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Our Assessment:

B+ : refreshing look at the 1996 US presidential campaign, and the state of the union

See our review for fuller assessment.

Review Summaries
Source Rating Date Reviewer
Entertainment Weekly C- 9/5/1997 Megan Harlan
The NY Times Book Rev. A 18/6/1997 Barbara Ehrenreich
Rev. of Contemp. Fiction A+ Fall/1997 Trey Strecker
Salon B 23/4/1997 David Futrelle

  Review Consensus:

  No true consensus, but generally positive, with some raves.

  From the Reviews:
  • "What was Rolling Stone thinking when it hired (then fired) novelist Erickson to cover the 1996 presidential campaign ? He's no reporter" - Megan Harlan, Entertainment Weekly

  • "(A) beautiful, crazed and weirdly patriotic book." - Barbara Ehrenreich, The New York Times Book Review

  • "American Nomad deserves to be compared with the best political and cultural journalism of Norman Mailer and Hunter S. Thompson (...), yet Erickson's style is less self-indulgent, less overwhelmed by the observing author's persona. Remarkably insightful, sharply funny, complex, and provocative, American Nomad rates a space on the short shelf of books about politics and life at the end of the twentieth century." - Trey Strecker, Review of Contemporary Fiction

  • "(I)t is Erickson's obvious distaste for the job at hand that gives the first half of his book its bite; when he loses his job, the book goes slack, and despite moments of clarity, like the campaign itself, coasts listlessly to its end." - David Futrelle, Salon

Please note that these ratings solely represent the complete review's biased interpretation and subjective opinion of the actual reviews and do not claim to accurately reflect or represent the views of the reviewers. Similarly the illustrative quotes chosen here are merely those the complete review subjectively believes represent the tenor and judgment of the review as a whole. We acknowledge (and remind and warn you) that they may, in fact, be entirely unrepresentative of the actual reviews by any other measure.

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The complete review's Review:

       Steve Erickson landed a job covering the 1996 presidential campaign for once hip Rolling Stone magazine, allowing him to follow the exciting trail of the Republican primaries as the party chose its nominee. Erickson uses the opportunity to explore the great country of his, in amusing juxtaposition to the candidates posturing and vote-pandering. Erickson's guru is Philip K. Dick -- not so much the sci-fi Dick that he emulates in his fiction, but the Dick who wrote the classic suburban novels of America in the 1950s (like In Milton Lumky Territory). Erickson's attitude and approach is an interesting and often amusing one, and it is a bizarre and curiously bleak portrait of America he paints. (Any honest report of any modern presidential campaigns will, of course, be bleak and harrowing -- they are demeaning horrors of the worst sort.)
       The debilitated Rolling Stone, a once readable rag that for ages has had almost no relevancy, didn't quite approve of Erickson's doings and they quickly gave up on him -- though Erickson continued to traipse around, following the candidates, using his press credentials. (He did also have the book contract from Henry Holt, who were none too pleased that Rolling Stone dropped him -- and not particularly pleased with the way the book was going either. They did publish it, but to date have not issued a paperback edition.)
       Combining autobiography, cultural and political criticism, travelogue, fantasy, and current events, Erickson has shaped an unusual book. Mordant, astute, nostalgic, and amusing, it is a fun and often thoughtful read. His riffs spin a bit far afield on occasion, and the political campaign talk may seem provincial, dated, and obscure (who were these characters some may ponder -- though too many of them keep resurfacing, in campaign 2000 and Viagra ads). Nevertheless, this is a worthwhile look at Amrica in the 1990s. Recommended.

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American Nomad: Reviews: Steve Erickson: Other books by Steve Erickson under review:

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About the Author:

       American author Steve Erickson was born in 1950. He has written several fairly highly acclaimed novels.

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