I’m still in the process of reading Kafka on the Shore, but I couldn’t help picking up Chuck Klosterman’s Sex, Drugs, and Cocoa Puffs: A Low Culture Manifesto (Now With A Middle). I first became acquainted with the writing of Klosterman in his columns for Esquire magazine-he is always funny and interesting in his digressions of pop culture. He tackles everything from cereal, porn, video games (Simms City), sports (the Boston Celtics/LA Lakers rivalry as a means of self determination-why soccer is lame), music (the non-ironic virtues of Billy Joel, the travails of a Guns& Roses Tribute band, why country music will outlast other types of music), TV (extensive analysis of Saved By The Bell and The Real World), celebrities (why Pamela Anderson tells us who we are), generational analysis (Gen X and its relation to Star Wars, the unrealistic model of maleness in Lloyd Dobler-a character from the movie Say Anything), pop fascination with serial killers, the misconception of a biased media, the unusual world of rock critics, and religion (on the popularity of the Left Behind series of Christian novels. Most of this is quite entertaining, especially if you were born in between 1965-1975. I found myself laughing out loud a lot, but sometimes I was wondered if he really believes all of his cockamamie theories-because it sounds funny or ridiculous. However, several of the essays contain a certain logic. So in some ways the essays can be quite thought provoking. Here’s a tidbit about how mass media affects relationships:
” Pundits are always blaming TV for making people stupid, movies for desensitizing the world to violence, and rock music for making kids take drugs and kill themselves. These things should be the least of our worries. The Main problem with mass media is that it makes it impossible to fall in love with any acumen of normalcy. There is no “normal,” because everybody is being twisted by the same sources simultaneously. You can’t compare your relationship with the playful couple who lives next, because they’re probably modeling themselves after Chandler Bing and Monica Geller. Real People are actively trying to live like fake people, so real people are no les fake. Every comparison becomes impractical. This is why impractical has become totally acceptable; impracticality almost seems cool. The best relationship I ever had was with a journalist who was as crazy as me, and some of our coworkers like to compare us to Sid Vicious and Nancy Spungeon. At the time, I used to think, “Yeah, that’s completely valid: We fight all the time, our love is self-destructive, and-if she was mysteriously killed-I’m sure I’d be wrongly arrested for second-degree murder before dying from an overdose in her parents’ basement.” We even watched Sid & Nancy in her parents’ basement and giggled the whole time. “That’s us,” we said gleefully. And that was the best relationship I ever had. And I suspect it was the best one she ever had, too."
At any rate, a fun, easy and entertaining read.