I’ll be very up-front and let you know that I do not read a lot of non-fiction. My reading habits focus largely on escapism, so I rarely find it necessary to dwell on aspects of “real life” while I am trying to relax from said “real life.” Chuck Klosterman is one of the rare exceptions. In general, Mr. Klosterman’s take on popular culture aligns pretty closely with my own. We are about the same age, so we share a lot of similar cultural experiences and our tastes similarly align.
The Nineties: A Book is a release I was very much looking forward to. A large chunk of the nineties were my college years, so I was ready and prepared for fully contextual nostalgia, a mess of validation, and probably quite a few new insights for a decade that is now 20+ years ago.
By and large, my expectations were met. Sure I would have loved some exposition on the rise and fall of Britpop, maybe a bit of rationale of how Pogs managed to be popular, and definitely some mention of the Nintendo/Sega/Sony console wars, but maybe those are topics for another time.
What we do get is some focus on popular culture and then how it related to the political climate followed by large examinations of the political climate of the world (mainly in the United States), how it was changing, and how that affected the global outlook.
There is a large focus on the rise of the readily available internet, and how it started to be an affecting factor on things without being an affecting factor.
Yes, The Nineties: A Book is entertaining. Especially for someone, like me, who lived through the decade very aware of what was going on around me. I do feel, however, that Mr. Klosterman has put a very 2022 lens on his examination. I very much came away with the feeling that the intention of the book was to explain why things in the general cultural, informational, political, and sociological senses of today’s world are the result of actions and attitudes of that decade. I will agree with some of this approach, but find fault in much of the logic. That’s just my opinion.
I will say that The Nineties: A Book forced me to address my own recollections of the decade and contextualize them in parallel with the text of the book: an interesting exercise that made me chuckle quite a bit. I’d be very curious to hear what others think.