One Hundred Young Americans is a book of photography and interviews with, you guessed it, one hundred young Americans. These people come from all 50 states, and represent every facet of youth culture imaginable, from the usual ones like jock or redneck or skater, to the more out-there like vampire and white supremacist. The author traveled acros the country to meet these people and collect their stories, and it is certainly an interesting premise.
My take? If this book is as accurate as it claims to be, people are fucking CRAZY. I’m afraid of the state of the world, sad for the future, if this is accurate. Most of the people in this book are shallow or ignorant or bigoted or stupid or crazy or superficial or intolerant or some combination of those characteristics.
That’s not to say there aren’t a few people I’d like to know, but most of these people are crazy. However, I doubt its accuracy as a portrait of America’s youth. I feel like certain groups (skaters/racers/bikers of all kinds, for example) are overrepresented, while others (sane, rational, intelligent people) are underrepresented. Everyone has a story, even the bland-looking honors student. It’s not just the people who look the most interesting in the mall or at Burger King that have stories to tell, and I’m not sure the people doing the recruiting for this book got that. A lot of the choices seem more about shock value than representing the young people of this country in any way close to accurate.
However, that said, I loved the pictures. Portrait photography (not interviewing or writing) is this author’s calling. Still, unless you’re an aspiring portrait photographer, I’m not sure this is worth the almost $30 that is the sticker price (I got it off a clearance shelf at the local indie bookstore). It’s poorly written, poorly bound, poorly edited, and not what it makes itself out to be. Also, some of the facts have not been thoroughly checked. But it’s most definitely interesting, and I’d say it was worth the $12 I paid, even though there are major flaws. These people are fascinating characters.