Ranting Out Loud: Life, Pop Culture & How We Sometimes Don’t Get Along
Mango • Soft Cover • 9781633530652
Release date: November 2016
In his debut essay collection, Nicholas Belardes uses today’s pop culture and self-deprecating humor as a filter for discussing personal stories of family, writing, gender, art, and race. He dives into the Harry Potter play and discusses his cursed childhood home. He tells coming-of-age tales of Dungeons & Dragons and blames Stranger Things for jogging those hilarious memories. In great detail he describes how working for a cheesy Las Vegas animation company meant everything to a relationship with his dad. And he presents an unpopular artistic argument for how Tyrion Lannister of Game of Thrones may have ruined his life as a writer (not really). He gives you Star Wars and its weird connections to the Catcher in the Rye (as well as artistic expectations in education). In an essay about race he presents virtual universes, cowboy images of his racist dad, and odd choices of identity in Ready Player One. He even provides a layman’s guide for how to introduce someone to Star Trek while at the same time telling us that what we mimic might not be good for us. He also discusses miscommunication in the world in relation to writing the first original Twitter novel, Small Places. And finally, he describes how American numbness negatively affects the world of art. Belardes presents a side of our humanity working in tandem with pop culture. It isn’t always pretty, though it is hopeful, sometimes funny, and full of promise.
“Ranting Out Loud is binge-worthy essay reading. As immersed in pop culture as I am as a critic and entertainment journalist, I know that understanding personal bias is everything. Whether discussing Tyrion Lannister or Harry Potter, Californian Belardes digs deep into his own twisted psyche to deep read the pop culture that oozes around us, finding depths in the shallows, and shallows in the depths.” —Thelma Adams, author of The Last Woman Standing, Playdate, and frequent contributor to the New York Observer and Variety.
“A refreshingly honest love-hate letter to pop culture. Nicholas Belardes doesn’t try to pretend that our tech and media obsessions can either be reduced to guilty pleasures or influential icons of our time. Instead, with sharp and brutal introspection, he delves into what the shows, movies, novels, politics and tweets that consume him say about him, and causes us to do the same.” —Natalia Sylvester, author of Chasing the Sun
“David Foster Wallace meets Hunter S. Thompson in this ode to the triumphs and defeats of pop culture. Belardes might be the most informed, intelligent and hilariously iconoclastic guide we’ll ever have to help us bridge the digital divide. Who else dares talk about Dostoevsky in the same breath as Winona Ryder? In Belardes’s nimble mental meanderings, we find Rilke alongside Sam the Mattress Man, Knossos alongside Las Vegas. Even as he is telling us everything we always wanted to know about Holden Caulfield and Luke Skywalker but were afraid to ask, Belardes’s underlying message becomes increasingly clear: art has been dumbed down, artifice is everywhere, and we no longer know what “real” is. “We. Can’t. Feel.” Belardes says, but he’s no misanthrope, and in these essays, we find ourselves in the astute and tender company of someone who loves the world.” —Kim Barnes, author of In the Kingdom of Men
“Nicholas Belardes has incisively given the world a stellar debut collection of essays.” —Caroline Leavitt, NYT best-selling author of Cruel Beautiful World, This is Tomorrow, and Pictures of You
“. . . reads like a love letter to pop culture—I couldn’t get enough. Belardes’ essays are addictive: you finish one and can’t wait to start the next. The snappy, fast-paced writing uses pop culture as a lens to look at everything—family, writing, jobs, gender, and ultimately what it means to be human. I binged on this book like it was a new season of Game of Thrones.” —Lara Zielin, author of The Waiting Sky and The Implosion of Aggie Winchester
“Many of my favorite books are actually rants. On the Road was Kerouac’s expression of being “mad to live.” Lord of the Rings was an elegantly elven diatribe against the tree-killing machines of war and industry, along with being the best-ever take-down of Nazis. Joan Didion’s Slouching Towards Bethlehem is a gorgeous screed of Sixties counterculture. I could go on and that is part of the point—they DO go on and thank god for that because all ideas can’t be expressed in 140 characters. Nicholas Belardes rants with the best of them and Didion better watch her back because he, too, has culture in his crosshairs. Belardes writes with a sharp eye and an even sharper pen. Covering cinema, pop obsessions, history and the not so United States, he is an articulate witness to the strange, stubborn and intractable truths of our time.” —Brenda Knight, author of Women of the Beat Generation