Blanche’s Book Club: ‘The Nineties’.

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This book has been on my radar since it was published: “The Nineties” by Chuck Klosterman.

If I’m in a bookstore or an airport and see titles I may want to read, I always take a picture of them and look into them later. It’s my way of trying to avoid making impulse purchases.

By waiting, I actually stumbled across this at the library, so it’s a win!

This book covers the nineties, of course, but it discusses all aspects of that decade — sports, politics, music, pop culture, movies — all of it. Here are some of the topics it covers:

  • Phone books and the rise of the cell phone
  • Ross Perot and Ralph Nader (how they affected presidential elections)
  • The popularity of the internet and how it changed society
  • TV shows like “Seinfeld” and “Friends”
  • Music, including Nirvana and Alanis Morrissette
  • Pre 9/11 politics, and the Monica Lewinsky of it all

…And much, much more. Here are some quotes I took note of:

The internet was coming. When was it coming? Soon. Not today, and maybe not tomorrow. But definitely soon. It was always never quite there. And then, one day, there it was — impossible to avoid and impossible to recognize until the update was complete and all alternatives had been eliminated. There’s no date for when the transfer of power occurred. The record of the transfer has edited itself.”

That, more than any person or event, informed the experience of nineties life: an adversarial relationship with the unseemliness of trying too hard.

“It was perhaps the last period in American history when personal and political engagement was still viewed as optional. Many of the polarizing issues that dominate contemporary discourse were already in play, but ensconced as thought experiments in academic circles. It was in retrospect, a remarkably easy time to be alive.”

“Modern people hate American Beauty for the same reason people in 1999 loved American Beauty: It examines the interior problems of upper-middle-class white people living in the late 20th century — the kind of people who voted for Bill Clinton twice and (perhaps) saw fragments of their own lives within the problems he created himself. And it was, in all probability, the last time in history such problems would be considered worthy of contemplation.”

I thought this was such a comprehensive, interesting look at the nineties — which were such a moment in time!

I would definitely recommend this to anyone who has an adoration for this decade.

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