I’ve been reading a lot of books recently from a very specific genre. There really isn’t a specific label for it but it focuses on pop-culture commentary, music journalism and a little bit of hipster post-modernist philosophy.
The defining author for this strange sub genre is Chuck Klosterman, whose books have become a fixture in my life recently.
Not coincidently, the most recent book I finished, Miss Misery by Andy Greenwald, had a quote from Klosterman on the cover commenting on the plot devices used in the novel.
I loved this book.
I’m already a big fan of Greenwald. His first book, Nothing Feels Good: Teenagers, Punk Rock and Emo, was a gateway drug to 99% of my favourite music and his writing/podcasts on TV and pop culture on Grantland.com are what got me moving in terms of my desire to work in TV and film.
Normally when the new year rolls around, I love making resolutions. Start doing this, give that a try, pick up a forgotten hobby, etc. Nothing major or life changing, just small things I think will improve my general mental health. For some reason or another, I feel like this year is getting off to a slow start and being weighed down by the baggage of the last. However, this book made me realise the, what should have been obvious, truth. I’m the one that’s stalled, not the year.
I’ve had a lot of trouble digging into a work of fiction lately. I usually catch myself reading the first chapter and then staring at the book around page 40 or 50 thinking about other books. With this book, I found myself reading for hours at a time, ripping through about 100 pages at a time.
And it’s because this is fictional story gets as close as possible to mirroring a lot of different stages in my life, minus the appearances of doppelgangers.
The story revolves around a neurotic and neutral writer in Brooklyn who finds himself detached from life and while I am neither a writer nor Brookln-ite, his worries, and ‘isms’ are mine.
The character, David Gould, and Greenwald as well, are asking the obvious questions any twenty something drifting through a decade of uncertainty are.
What am I doing? Where am I? Does this matter? Can I pay rent? Will anyone notice this stain on my shirt?
All the while constantly feeling that you are, to quote the singer-songwriter Allison Weiss,’Too young to give a fuck, but too old not to care’.
Set in 2005-ish, during the advent of blogging and online journals and when it was mainly populated by eminent hipsters and emo kids from around the US, protagonist Gould examines why people, predominantly teenagers, gravitate toward this new, ‘heart-on-digital-sleeve life.
Masked as a research topic for his book, Gould uses these diary entries as a window to a fantasy world that he could never imagine being real, until it does.
I was half addicted to the story, which is a fun, light read, and half addicted how much I wanted to take from Greenwald’s writing.
It glorifies both the old ’emo boy and girl’ mind set of escaping the mundane and learning how to express oneself and the self destructive partying attitude many see a ‘living’ only to expose them as symptoms of immaturity and indecision when left to fester beyond college and high school.
Scenes where Greenwald makes his unreliable narrator accountable were kicks to the stomach and made it clear what happens to the man who stays stagnant in his life.
I think it’s time I takes the lessons in the book and from the author to heart. It’s time to get moving, get writing, and get filming.