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."

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