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4.2 out of 5 stars
Party of One: The Loners' Manifesto
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8 of 8 people found the following review helpful
on June 1, 2004
Finally an answer to a loner's prayers! We are not as strange as the world wants to make us out to be afterall.
Anneli Rufus has done a magnificent job telling about life from a loner's perspective and making it all sound capable and NORMAL. She writes chapters on the loner in community, popular culture, films, advertising, friendships, love & sex, technology, art, literature, religion, sanity, crime, eccentricity, clothes, environment, solo adventures and at last childhood. The words are a true manifesto for a loner's hungry soul, finally another person who understands.
In a world where loners are thought to be strange, crazy serial killers who cannot conform to society, Rufus encourages the idea that most loners in truth are the great creators and contemplators of the world. Issac Newton, Michaelangelo, writers, artists and philosophers become necessary human beings within all of their secretiveness. Instead of being arrogant attention getting hounds most loners create from the heart and give without a need for recognition, the truly unselfish can be found only in those selfish enough to enjoy being alone.
I would have loved to have given this book to a teacher who I had as a child. I remember sitting in a room with my parents while they were told by the "teacher" that she felt I was somehow autistic and withdrawn and might need "special" education. Despite my A's, my ability to pay attention and my athletic ability I was labeled and marked as a failure in her eyes. I wonder how many children today are pegged as something they are not and guided in a wrong direction. It took me 40 years to figure out how unique and completely normal I really am but I would hope after reading this book many others could celebrate the adventure alot sooner. A must read for those of you with quiet, withdrawn children who would rather day dream than stand around with all the other cattle.
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5 of 5 people found the following review helpful
on July 16, 2004
Growing up, Barbra Streisand sang that "people who need people are the luckiest people in the world." I didn't get it. It wasn't until a few years ago, after accidentally overhearing someone refer to me as a loner that I ever considered that I might be one.
Whereas I looked at other people, those of whom were needy and dependant, as strange and somewhat pitiful, it wasn't until I read this book that I realized that they felt that way about me! All along I considered myself perfectly normal while now I see that the "other side" -- the nonloners -- saw me as the unusual one.
This book doesn't so much try to explain why loners and nonloners act the way they do than to expose and explore the two disparate types of thinking and behaviors. It's a great source for either entity to enter the inside of the other side.
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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
on March 7, 2004
Loners are much maligned, misunderstood and, at the extremes, mistreated. Anneli Rufus wants to clear the air about them. It is not, she insists, sociopathic to choose to be by oneself, to prefer an urban sea of strangers to the familiar faces of the quaint small town. That such a defense is even necessary stems partly from the tendency of the media to label serial killers and others as "loners," when in fact they are very often quite social. She argues, as I have long suspected, that major criminals are friendless once they have been accused. (It's the "success has a thousand fathers, but failure is an orphan," problem.) In fact, it's her position that a tendency to be a loner and to be creative co-vary quite a bit. If you find that you are shy, or otherwise inclined to detachment and, at the same time, find that others are puzzled, if not hostile, toward your inclinations, this book will provide you with a solid foundation for explaining and defending the often overwhelming desire to find comfort in the very absence of companionship.
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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
on November 28, 2003
So go the "loners" of Party of One, as well as the book itself, as it is split into several stand-alone essays with a loose thematic cohesion. Rufus makes an admirable defense of her chosen topic, and looks at it through several interesting angles, such as art, clothing, religion, and advertising. I felt there were several ways in which the book could have been better, and I'll outline a few of them here:
1) Rufus states an opinion that parents should not be trying to force children out of lonerhood if that's what they prefer. But she uses Steven Pinker, who believes that people are born with their personality traits, to buttress this assertion. Most experts today reject both the "blank slate" theory that Pinker reacts against, but they find Pinker's claims to be equally dubious. Personality and development are a complex interplay between one's genes and one's environment. It's disappointing to see Rufus ignore (or not recognize) this complexity, and it kind of discredits her point.
2) Whether or not loners are generally more creative, I'm not ready to swallow the assertion that the creative process is one that is necessarily dependent on solitude. Many artists have found their ideas being developed through dialogue with others. Think cliques such as the Bloomsbury Group (including Virginia Woolf, of whom Rufus hints is a loner) or the Impressionists. Many creative endeavors are collaborative, most notably musical ones. Which brings me to...
3) Rufus' lack of insight, despite a good portion of the book being dedicated to loners' creative prowess, into music and musicians. I think that would have undermined one of her most important points, that being that loners are better suited to be creative. However, I think it was just lack of research, not disingenuity, that made her overlook this.
4) The book lacked cohesiveness, a grand vision, and was generally only competently written. Compare this for example, to Laura Kipnis' remarkably sharp, playful, and witty "Against Love: A Polemic".
5) This book sees things in terms of loners and non-loners, while I think most people who read this book will feel that they possess characteristics from both categories.
Despite these faults, I would still recommend "Party of One" to loners who feel like they shouldn't be, and even more so to "non-loners" who tend to have negative reactions toward people who shun group activities and group mentality.
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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
on January 24, 2004
When I first looked at this book I thought it was going to be rather a dry read. I was completely wrong. While light hearted, it is a serious and entertaining look into what is a loner, and why they are important to society.
Anneli Rufus pulls together so much. Why are loners the persecuted minority, yet worshiped in literature and the arts.
Perhaps the most telling chapter is how the media constantly pushes the image of the "loner" as the criminal type involved in so many violent crimes. The reality is that such people are not loners by choice, but outcasts who do not want to be alone.
If you are an introvert, and don't understand why people won't leave you alone, or why people think you are a weirdo because you prefer your own company, or even the spouse of a loner, this is a book not to be missed.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
on December 8, 2003
I had high hopes for this title, and hoped it would enlighten me a bit and entertain me a lot. I fall within the focus group of this book, being as I am a lifelong 'loner,' having come to grips with this years ago. The introduction is promising, and described 'me' right down to the bone, describing the issues I have with more group-oriented people due to my 'loner' ways, etc. I bought the book.
When I got home and started reading more thoroughly, I felt my interest wanning with each page turned. The interesting hooks I felt from the first few paragraphs were slowly turning into a big group hug for those of the loner inclination.
If I wasn't secure with my 'loner-ness,' this book would probably be the affirmation I would be looking for so as to not feel awkward about my natural inclination to enjoy my own company, by myself.
I can't imagine any well-seated loner reading this book for more than a few pages, and tossing it aside for something more interesting and stimulating. If you are thinking of buying this book, get it in hand and drop in on a few paragraphs and make sure the voice your hearing from the pages is really talking to you.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
on December 8, 2003
I don't feel like "damaged goods" that needs to be "fixed" because this book shows that being alone and apart allows a person to think and grow without constant interjections from people who need to talk through the empty spaces of silence.
A very good book to read if alone for the holidays and are feeling "guilty" about not being with friends and family" A great antidote for the "holiday blues" songs that insist a person must be "somewhere with people" in order to be "happy", (by society's standards") - Homepage: http://pauahihale.blogspot.com/
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
on April 9, 2004
I can't imagine being a loner and not being thrilled with this book. What a breath of fresh air to read the positives of lonerdom instead of a "how to be an introvert in an extrovert world" instruction manual. I have been labelled everything from "anti-social" to "paralyzed by shyness" (often by my own family members) and it took at least 38 of my 41 years to accept my loner nature - in fact, to revel in it - and to realize I am not some sort of misfit. Anneli Rufus simply refutes the long held view that a successful life is one that is overflowing with people and relationships.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
on June 28, 2004
I stumbled upon this book during a jaunt through my favorite local book store, and decided to give it a try. I read the reviews posted here shortly after I began reading, and opted to wait until I finished the book before adding my 2 cents worth.
Well, I've completed it, and I don't what's so offensive in its text to earn some of the negative comments made here. I found it informative, empowering without inducing grudges, and enjoyable. It's not a self-help book so much as a chance for self-discovery, maybe. In any case, some of my closest friends will soon be getting a great new book to read.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
on June 15, 2004
After picking up this tome, I was pleased to read a humorous but serious take on the loner persona. Being a loner, i truly understand the incidents and feelings described in this book. It also provides the reader with substance on appreciating thier "aloneness" and that others are simply not attuned to "our kind". While it doesn't really offer suggestions on how to educate others, it is uplifting to read. It will confirm what you already know - being alone is wonderful!
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