Powers, John 1951-
Powers, John 1951-
ADDRESSES: Home—Pasadena, CA. Office—LA Weekly, P.O. Box 4315, Los Angeles, CA 90078.
CAREER: Georgetown University, Washington, DC, assistant professor of English, 1976-85. LA Weekly, Los Angeles, CA, film critic, 1985-94; Vogue, film critic, 1994-2000, 2004-; Gourmet magazine, food critic; National Public Radio, film critic and critic-at-large for Fresh Air; LA Weekly, deputy editor.
Sore Winners: (And the Rest of Us) in George Bush's America, Doubleday (New York, NY), 2004.
Author of "On" column for LA Weekly and Village Voice;
SIDELIGHTS: John Powers is, according to Jonathan Yardley, writing in the Washington Post Book World, a "clever, quick-witted writer with a gift for the dead-on zinger." Powers, a columnist for the LA Weekly and at-large critic for National Public Radio, published his first book, Sore Winners: (And the Rest of Us) in George Bush's America, in 2004, just prior to the presidential elections of that year. The book is an examination of the first four years of George W. Bush's presidency, taking as its major theme the premise that Bush, his party, and their media supporters at Fox News were the sore winners of the 2000 election. With a mixture of irony, humor, and social criticism, Powers examines the zeitgeist of Bush's America, from its fixation on consumerism to preemptive wars, to a renewed fascination with social Darwinism in reality shows such as Survivor. In Powers' view, the United States is increasingly turning into a country of a small minority of winners who hold most of the wealth and political power, and a vast majority of losers, who buy their groceries at Wal-Mart. He also looks at the Left's fumbled attempts, via personalities such as Michael Moore, to take back the political agenda from the Right.
Yardley, reviewing Sore Winners in the Washington Post Book World, noted that Powers, like others who had published books critical of Bush, "is appalled by Bush and most of those by whom he is surrounded." However, Yardley went on to point out, unlike other critics, Powers "takes Bush seriously." Yardley also noted, "To his credit, Powers concentrates on analysis of the country's divisions and the current administration's contributions to them rather than on proposing blue-sky remedies." Timothy Noah, writing in the New York Times Book Review, observed that while Powers blames the Bush presidency for "a string of cultural phenomena," such a critique does not hold up over the course of an entire book. However, Noah did find that Powers serves up some "artful gibes." A critic for Publishers Weekly had similar concerns, concluding that although Powers "can be very funny … the book is too thick with kitchen-sink ruminations to work as a whole." Booklist reviewer Donna Seaman had higher praise for the book, dubbing it a "brilliant synthesis," and commending Powers for "boldly and entertainingly" examining what the author calls "Bush World." A critic for Kirkus Reviews similarly deemed Sore Winners a "solid work from a cultural critic who merits a broader audience."
BIOGRAPHICAL AND CRITICAL SOURCES:
Booklist, July, 2004, Donna Seaman, review of Sore Winners: (And the Rest of Us) in George Bush's America, p. 1813.
Kirkus Reviews, June 1, 2004, review of Sore Winners, p. 529.
New York Times Book Review, September 12, 2004, Timothy Noah, "Red Bush and Blue Bush," review of Sore Winners, p. 24.
Publishers Weekly, June 7, 2004, review of Sore Winners, p. 41.
Washington Post Book World, August 1, 2004, Jonathan Yardley, review of Sore Winners, p. T2.
John Powers Home Page, http://www.sorewinners.com (February 25, 2005).