Book Title: Sex, Drugs, and Cocoa Puffs* (*A Low Culture Manifesto)
Author: Chuck Klosterman
Category: nonfiction: essays, nonfiction, nonfiction: short story
I buy books, a lot of them. Even on vacation I find myself in bookstores, browsing, and when I can bear to leave without a new book, buying. I couldn’t leave Sex, Drugs, and Cocoa Puffs in the Union Square Borders in San Francisco, even though we were heading to dinner at the time. (A dinner which ended up being in a restaurant on the 6th floor of the largest Macy’s I’ve ever seen)
I’ve picked up Chuck Klosterman’s books before, but never quite arrived at the buying stage of the game. Maybe it was that this time I noticed the Oxford Comma in the title, but whatever the reason, I’m so glad I bought this one.
It was sarcastic, blithe, and laugh out loud funny in places. His style of mixing pop culture, politics, anecdotes, and analogies made for an interesting read, and I found myself laughing out loud, and then insisting on reading aloud the excerpts that had made me laugh to my ever patient traveling companion, who has since bought and begun reading this same book.
He takes seemingly (or maybe actually) random subjects and gives his thoughts on the matter – using a certain acerbic wit that kept me wanting to read more, though many times I disagreed with his opinions of certain things, like when he says that “…science fiction tends to be philosophy for stupid people.” (165) Although in this case he qualifies the statement by adding a footnote saying “as opposed to this essay, which tends to be philosophy for shallow people.”
There were also a lot of elements of the book I enjoyed purely because of random connections between myself and Klosterman’s subject matter. For example, he has a chapter in which he details his obsession with serial killers, which starts of in Lacey, Washington – a town who’s freeway exit I have personally spent time at while roadtripping down to Portland. Twice. Granted this is many years after the event which Klosterman talks about, but still, I like finding connections like that. (not necessarily the serial killer part, but when I have visuals for what the author is talking about, and can orient myself accordingly.)
He had some very similar experiences to my own, when it comes to television and community. When describing the cultural significance of Saved By The Bell, Klosterman says that “what was interesting was that everybody seemed to watch them together, in the same room (or over the telephone), and with a cultic intensity. We liked the ‘process’ of watching these shows.” (138) My friends and I do this now, but with the internet instead of telephones. Open a chat in one window, and a show or movie in the other, or watch something on a physical TV with your laptop on your lap. Sharing experiences over time zones and distance, hanging out with friends without actually seeing them.
The last part of this book I want to talk about is how it followed a chain of events that seemed to speak to me. Or rather, that I took meaning from. This is the second book I have read recently that has quoted Yoda to me. Do or Do not, there is no try. And when I arrived home from this road trip I returned to work, to find tacked to our bathroom bulletin board, that same Yoda quote. Should I be spending more effort in doing rather than trying? Perhaps.