Filed under: Uncategorized
Hey any and everyone who may be reading this! I’ve decided to make the switch to blogger (my other blog is on blogger and it’s just easier to do all of my blogging in the same place). I’ve reposted most of the reviews from this blog and started things off with a brand new review of Youth in Revolt. I’m so happy to be reading again! I hope you’ll come and visit me at Books, Burritos, and Bacon and at my nostalgia blog Nostomanic.
Thanks for visiting.
Well, I haven’t checked in for a while and that’s because I haven’t been reading much. I’m starting to find the stack o’ books in my room intimidating and every time I look at it I want to pull the duvet over my head and hide out for a while. I recently bought Cormac McCarthy’s The Road and I’m hoping to read it before I see the movie (Viggo Mortensen=hotness). If all goes well, I’ll start it tonight or tomorrow. In the coming months, I’ll be dividing my blogging time between this book blog and the random/pop culture/nostalgia blog that I started earlier this month. I think it’s sort of bonkers trying to maintain two blogs and the ephemera celebrated on my other site sort flies in the face of what I was trying to accomplish here. But like a Big Mac, I have layers, and I felt it was important to embrace all of those layers–as anti-intellectual as some of them may be. I’m also hoping to be a bit more diligent about my freelancing now that I’m totally done with school and hopefully I’ll have a bunch of links to articles I’ve written up on this site soon.
Thanks for reading!
Filed under: Reviews and Final Opinions | Tags: Chuck Klosterman, Eating the Dinosaur
Chuck Klosterman is responsible for validating my debilitating pop culture habit. After reading Sex, Drugs and Cocoa Puffs, I started to see entertainment journalism as a viable career option (for better or worse).
His essays are droll and chock-a-block full of curious interpretations of everyday objects and cultural phenomena; he’s amusing even when he’s criticizing something that I—unhip lady that I am—enjoy; and he’s insightful but not intimidatingly so—all of his books are conversational, sprinkled with slang and mild profanity, addressing issues that are accessible to the PhD-less.
Klosterman, I think, embodies a different kind of intellectualism, a more relatable kind. Armchair intellectualism. His essays impose a deeply philosophical, scholarly, and often, historical context upon banalities sans irony. We aren’t meant to laugh at an elaborate analysis of ABBA, we’re meant to laugh at how legitimate that analysis is—the It’s-funny-‘cause-it’s-true paradigm.
Since the release of his definitive work, Sex, Drugs, and Cocoa Puffs in 2003, Klosterman has become a bit of a celebrity—ostensibly a part of all that pop culture debris he’s so apt to critique. In Eating the Dinosaur, his latest collection, he overtly addresses that issue in the book’s opening essay, “Something Instead of Nothing,” which is essentially meditation on the art and practice of interviewing and being interviewed.
In the essay, Klosterman who has contributed to Spin, The Washington Post, and Esquire, writes, “For the past five years, I’ve spent more time being interviewed than conducting interviews with other people. I am not complaining about this, nor am I proud of it—it’s just the way things worked out, mostly by chance. But the experience has been confusing.”
Eating the Dinosaur feels like Klosterman’s attempt to replicate the content, style, and success of Sex, Drugs, and Cocoa Puffs. But this isn’t something that he’s able to do. I’m not criticizing him, I’m just saying that his psychic distance has changed. He very literally cannot write the same way that he wrote back in 2003 for all of the reasons that none of us can write or think or behave the way we did in 2003, but also because he is, whether he wants to admit it or not, a celebrity. So while reading this book, there’s this mildly uncomfortable tension sort of haunting the margins. Despite my love for pop culture reportage—I almost would have preferred to read something completely devoted to his transformation into a public figure.
Although, there were a few things that weren’t working for me in Eating the Dinosaur—the discussion of sports, the rehashing of issues discussed in previous work, how meta the whole thing is—I did enjoy the book overall and would recommend it, especially to people who haven’t read Klosterman. There is an articulate, satisfyingly geeky dissection of time travel called “Tomorrow Never Knows” that should go down in history as the authoritative text on the subject.
When Klosterman is good, he’s really good.
Filed under: Booking Through Thursday | Tags: Booking Through Thursday, Pride and Prejudice, Romeo and Juliet, Twilight, Wuthering Heights
I’d consider any book touted as “surreal” and “hilarious” a godsend. Lately though, I’ve been finding that any time the back cover blurb mentions that a book is in any way comical, I end up feeling gypped. We all have a different understanding of what “funny” is, I realize that, and even when a book is said to be “hilarious” or “hysterical,” I’m not so naïve—or easily deceived by marketing gimmicks—to believe that I’ll be busting a gut as I flip through its pages. But if the book fails to make me crack a smile or even think, “Ah yes, now that sentence was rather humorous” as I adjust my monocle, then I’d say that that back cover blurb failed to deliver on its promise.
What I usually find most useful in selecting books are those little author endorsement quotes. If another writer that I like has said that he/she enjoyed the book then I’ll probably buy it. I know that writers share publishers and publishers ask more established/successful writers to provide these sorts of quotes for up-and-comers, but I doubt anyone would ever cosign something that was horrible.
The thing that I find slightly baffling these days, is the use of Twilight to market classics (something that I’ve brought up before.)
Filed under: Chuck Klosterman, Jonathan Franzen, The noobs | Tags: Chuck Klosterman, Eating the Dinosaur, IV, Jonathan Franzen, Sex Drugs and Cocoa Puffs, The Corrections, Val Kilmer
Both of these books were purchased in Las Vegas during my “vacation,” which just goes to show that I am, at my core, a book buying fool. The Chuck Klosterman book was something that I’d been looking forward to for a while. Sex, Drugs, and Cocoa Puffs is one of my favorite books and Chuck Klosterman IV has the most incredible interview with Val Kilmer in it (Kilmer is out of his mind!). I’ve already started reading Eating the Dinosaur and so far it hasn’t blown my mind. Of course, there are some interesting essays–right now my favorite is one in which Klosterman dissects the concept of time travel–but the book just feels a little too meta. This may be a byproduct of Chuck Klosterman’s increased notoriety. He’s a pop culture critic and, with his success, has essentially become a piece of pop culture. I think he loves this but it also seems that it’s something that makes him uncomfortable. I bought The Corrections by Jonathan Franzen because it’s just one of those books that you’re “supposed” to read and I often find myself eyeing it at bookstores. It only cost $3.99 at Borders on the bargain rack and I just couldn’t pass that up. $3.99 is less than what I pay for stuff at the used book store.
Filed under: Anne Tyler, Reviews and Final Opinions, The Accidental Tourist | Tags: Anne Tyler, Nick Hornby, The Accidental Tourist
As I’ve mentioned before, I purchased The Accidental Tourist because Nick Hornby said that Anne Tyler was the author who made him want to write; and because Nick Hornby’s work has had a similar impact on me, I thought it crucial to read something she’d written. At the risk of sounding completely ignorant and in the interest of full disclosure, I will admit to not knowing who Tyler was before Hornby brought her up at his book signing. This is especially embarrassing when you consider that she’s a Pulitzer Prize winner (she’s been nominated 3 times!). But you know, you live, you learn, you read The Accidental Tourist. That’s the circle of life. And it moves us all. Through despair and hope. Through faith and love, etc.
Last week, I plucked The Accidental Tourist out from my Stack O’ Books because I thought it would be fitting—I’m in Las Vegas at the moment—but I had no idea how fitting it would actually turn out to be. Macon Leary, the novel’s protagonist, is an anal-retentive travel guide writer—his books are all about low-impact travelling, showing business-types how to go on their business trips without having to engage with the cities they’re visiting. As it turned out, I spent the second day of this “vacation” in the hotel, never leaving, not even for food—I had a couple of Lunchables in the refrigerator.
(For some poorly thought out reason, I decided to tag along with my mother and grandmother on this Vegas trip; they came for an AARP convention. Being twenty-five years old, I do not meet the primary admission requirement for the American Association of Retired Persons, so I couldn’t go to any of their little events—not that I would have wanted to, anyway. And because we’re staying at an isolated resort, miles and miles away from the strip, I’ve been alternating between hotel confinement and doing granny things like eating at all you can eat buffets and sitting for hours at 1¢ slot machines.)
Though the days here have been lame for sure, the up-side is that I was able to finish the book without any distractions; and I’m glad that I read it (!) Tyler’s prose is unadorned but poignant, proof that plain language can be emotionally affecting (and win Pulitzer Prizes). There was a time when I thought that good writing was heavily poetic, sprinkled with bizarre metaphors and full of big, eruditey words. So in that way, there’s something refreshing about the book.
I’ve been waiting for a while to feel some investment, to actually care about a novel’s characters (!), and this is the first book that I’ve finished this past month that’s accomplished that. Macon begins an odd sort of relationship with this flighty, inarticulate dog trainer named Muriel—a character who was able to crawl so thoroughly under my skin that I really have to applaud Tyler’s skill.
The Accidental Tourist is about life, or I guess what it means to really live—as hackneyed as that sounds—and when a novel’s protagonist is a reserved man who cuts himself off from the outside world, you sort of expect him to find his redemption in some quirky woman with frizzy hair. But Tyler is able to create this very complicated and realistic internal life for Macon; there isn’t anything easy about his journey.
If I’d read this book ten years ago I don’t think that I would have said, “A-ha! Now I know what I’ll do with my life. I’ll become a writer!” But I can definitely see myself reading more of Tyler’s work.
Filed under: Movies and Books | Tags: Adam Goldberg, Celebrity Playlist Podcast, iTunes
Saw this picture when I opened iTunes today.
I already love Adam Goldberg (if you haven’t seen 2 Days in Paris, you should probably get on that) but there’s something about all of those books stacked up behind him that’s really working for me. I think I might just love him a little bit more now. Here’s his playlist: