Thursday, July 23, 2009

IV: A Decade of Curious People and Dangerous Ideas

Not so long ago, my significant other started reading a New York Times collection called Class Matters with the thought of assigning it to future students. Bored during one sporting event or another, I picked it up and started reading. It turned out that I had already read 50% of the book's content, if not more. Articles I remembered included one about an attorney who grew up dirt poor in Appalachia, got out, and ended up returning to help family members in need; one about a marriage between a wealthy woman and a working-class man; and one about a family who moves from faceless exurb to faceless exurb every few years for the father's job.

A few days ago, while the Yankees were on TV, I demanded something to read and picked Chuck Klosterman's IV: A Decade of Curious People and Dangerous Ideas off the shelf. Here, too, a few pieces rang oddly familiar. In my mind, I haven't read SPIN (where many of these articles first appeared) since the late 90s, but I guess I pick up a copy from time to time. I know I already read the article about Bats Day (when goths take over Disneyland) and the one about Morrisey's LA-area Latino fans.

Beginning a piece about a classic rock cruise (members of Styx, REO Speedwagon and Journey were on board), I thought, "another one of these"? I had recently read a Laurie Notaro collection in which the final story details an Alaskan cruise, as well as, as chronicled below, David Foster Wallace's A Supposedly Fun Thing I'll Never Do Again. Oh well, what to do about it? Turn my attention to Major League Baseball? I pressed on. About four pages in, Klosterman writes,

"There are three main hurdles involved with the writing and reporting of this story. The first is that the definitive cruise story has already been written by David Foster Wallace, who published the essay 'A Supposedly Fun Thing I'll Never Do Again' in 1995; this is evidently the most popular essay ever produced, as roughly six thousand people have mentioned it to me during the fourty-eight hours prior to this trip."

Tuesday, July 21, 2009

IV, Split

I have something to say about Chuck Klosterman, as soon as I can get his book that I'm reading from my significant other. In the meantime, I wandered into the library after work today and walked out with, among other things, Split by Suzanne Finnamore.

This memoir of the author's divorce is nothing I would seek out. But, the branch library up the street from my work is so small that I was able to browse the Biography section in a few minutes, and this was the most interesting-looking thing in it. So I'm reading it. For the first 100 pages, it was a pretty easy though not uncommon read. The author's life is mildly interesting, but her prose is really good -- I always appreciate someone who can say a lot with a few words. She is self aware about her status and privilege, yet not overly, constantly self effacing.

A hundred pages in, a childhood friend shows up to keep her company. Then, so does his Airstream trailer named Bambi. And its driver, a sometime transvestite called The Betty Lady. Now things are getting good. The Betty Lady has determined they will ransack the soon-to-be ex's office.