Goodreads helps you keep track of books you want to read.
Start by marking “The Pyrotechnic Insanitarium: American Culture on the Brink” as Want to Read:
The Pyrotechnic Insanitarium: American Culture on the Brink
Enlarge cover
Rate this book
Clear rating
Open Preview

The Pyrotechnic Insanitarium: American Culture on the Brink

by
3.94  ·  Rating details ·  122 ratings  ·  13 reviews
From the far left to the far right, on talk radio and the op-ed page, more and more Americans believe that the social fabric is unraveling. Celebrity worship and media frenzy, suicidal cultists and heavily armed secessionists: modern life seems to have become a "pyrotechnic insanitarium," Mark Dery says, borrowing a turn-of-the-century name for Coney Island. Dery ...more
Paperback, 304 pages
Published December 15th 1999 by Grove Press (first published February 1st 1999)
More Details... Edit Details

Friend Reviews

To see what your friends thought of this book, please sign up.

Reader Q&A

To ask other readers questions about The Pyrotechnic Insanitarium, please sign up.

Be the first to ask a question about The Pyrotechnic Insanitarium

This book is not yet featured on Listopia. Add this book to your favorite list »

Community Reviews

Showing 1-30
Average rating 3.94  · 
Rating details
 ·  122 ratings  ·  13 reviews


More filters
 | 
Sort order
Start your review of The Pyrotechnic Insanitarium: American Culture on the Brink
lisa_emily
Sep 24, 2008 rated it liked it
Recommends it for: culture jammers & other preserver types
Recommended to lisa_emily by: Scott
Reading The Pyrotechnic Insanitarium is like attending a class reunion of the last decade; you get to revisit all the things you kind of forgot about and all the things that you wish you could forget, like big-boob jobs and Jim Rose Circus Sideshow. He even examines those horrid daytime tabloid tv shows and validates their existence with some compelling reasons (although not convicing enough for me to watch).

The first chapter covers the gamut from the X-files and Crag Baldwin to Umberto Eco
...more
Anya Weber
Mar 29, 2009 rated it really liked it
This is what it feels like when the End Times are Nigh--which seems to happen every hundred years or so, and more recently, about once a decade. Mark Dery wrote this book of essays in the late 1990s, about the "fin de millennium," and it's still equally relevant as our fractured, kaleidoscopic, socially-networked-to-death decade of naughts draws to a close. The essays explore everything from the Unabomber to killer clowns, placing disturbing 1990s American pop culture in a larger technological ...more
Wythe Marschall
Jun 30, 2010 rated it really liked it
Mark Dery is one of the sharpest writers on modern culture I've ever discovered. His feverish, post-everything essays about American/global/technological/millennial culture (what he calls the "pyrotechnic insanitarium," recycling a gem of Coney Island barkery) reverberate with the right mix of the hip and the academic–curmudgeonly, making this collection a joy for casual readers and sine qua non for futurologists, skeptics, and genealogists of the uncanny.

Neither technophobe nor fool for the
...more
Scott
Apr 29, 2008 rated it really liked it
i re-read this book and enjoyed it as much the second time. its focus is really on some of the darker threads of the fin-de-millennium american culture. end of the century apocalyptic schizo kinda stuff. killer clowns, branding, post humanism, aliens, and conspiracies. it is just a relevant now as it was when i first read it at the end of the 90's. it confirms to me that somewhere near the end of 2001 time started running in reverse...
Cwl
Sep 05, 2009 rated it liked it
Similar in content to the superlative Apocalypse Culture anthologies, but oddly interspersed with Naomi Klein-style economic critiques. I suggest that you peruse the wonderfully-written paeans to Coney Island and sideshow bodies, but skip over any page that devotes space to income disparity. And read Apocalypse Culture first.
Mike
Mar 24, 2009 rated it it was amazing
14 years old, and as a compilation that means some pieces are even older. Regardless, Dery's insights pry back the linoleum and reveal some surface truths about (mostly) American culture which can be disturbing. Dery's takes a slightly askew angle and this approach brings forth more truths than are in the words.
Madison Santos
Jan 31, 2017 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: 2016, essay
Required reading for how we went from Obama to Trump, from the 2008 image and figurehead of pure hope to the pyrotechnic insanitarium of 2016.
Jessica
Jun 20, 2007 rated it it was amazing
it's been years since i read this book, but i really remember enjoying the hell out of it. i should reread this.
David
Oct 26, 2013 rated it it was amazing
Highly recommended.
Adam Kanter
Apr 07, 2019 rated it really liked it
I really enjoyed this book and the connections drawn through it. The essays about clowns, formaldehyde photography, trend spotting, dolls, and unabomber were my favorites. Dery connects it all too the forces of technology and globalization, but each can be read through their own lens. Really interesting collection, and Dery has a very unique writing style, connecting most of the elements of the essays to late 20th century pop culture.
Dixie Johnson
May 13, 2009 rated it liked it
very interesting essays about some of my favorite morbid topics: killer clowns, damien hirst and the xfiles. its about the coming of the year 2000 so its a little dated but still relevant
Kate Walker
Written 10 years ago but feels like it could be today. Very fun writing style and an interesting topic.
Allen Radtke
rated it really liked it
Sep 01, 2012
John
rated it really liked it
Dec 27, 2013
Maidel
rated it it was amazing
Aug 06, 2018
Keith Hendricks
rated it it was amazing
Jan 24, 2018
Adam
rated it really liked it
Jul 16, 2012
Sarah
rated it liked it
Feb 14, 2009
Patrick M.
rated it it was ok
Aug 11, 2008
stephanie cat
rated it it was amazing
May 15, 2012
Bijay
rated it liked it
Sep 25, 2011
Peter
rated it it was amazing
Mar 11, 2015
Brad
rated it liked it
Jul 24, 2013
myiesta
rated it liked it
Jan 17, 2017
Karen
rated it liked it
Oct 08, 2012
Jesse De Angelis
rated it it was amazing
Jul 26, 2012
Nachiketa
rated it really liked it
Jan 16, 2019
Daniel
rated it it was amazing
Aug 06, 2014
Ehren
rated it it was amazing
Dec 01, 2018
Sarah
rated it really liked it
Feb 01, 2016
« previous 1 3 4 5 next »
There are no discussion topics on this book yet. Be the first to start one »

Readers also enjoyed

  • The Pedestrians
  • 102 Minutes: The Untold Story of the Fight to Survive Inside the Twin Towers
See similar books…
84 followers
From http://markdery.com/?page_id=130

Mark Dery is a cultural critic, essayist, and book author who has taught at NYU and Yale. He coined the term “Afrofuturism,” popularized the concept of “culture jamming,” and has published widely on American mythologies and pathologies. His books include Flame Wars (1994), a seminal anthology of writings on digital culture; Escape Velocity: Cyberculture at the
...more