Great. Just what I need. Another indispensable writer.
I've been vaguely aware of Chuck Klosterman for some time -- have read, I suppose, the occasional essay or article. A couple of weeks ago I read a review of Eating the Dinosaur -- it's just come out in paperback. I was intrigued, but I'm trying to avoid buying new books until the stack next to my chair is whittled down to something slightly shorter than JoBug.
But I underestimated what I needed to bring to read for the flight to Pittsburgh. By the time I got to Atlanta I was almost through the David Sedaris book that was supposed to last me the entire flight. So I ducked into a Buckhead Books and scanned the new arrivals rack and there was Eating the Dinosaur. I guess it was meant to be.
He's funny, but he's not a humorist. He just has a funny way of looking at the world. But he looks very deeply and uses his writing to try to figure out what he's seeing. Why do interviews work? Why does the notion of time travel make him feel so uncomfortable? What does the Kurt Cobain's response to his rock stardom tell us about rock stardom in general? What does Cobain's sanity, or lack thereof, tell us about our own?
In the essay about time travel he says,
Here's a question I like to ask people when I'm 5/8 drunk: Let's say you had the ability to make a very brief phone call into your own past. You are (somehow) given the opportunity to phone yourself as a teenager; in short, you will be able to communicate with the fifteen year old version of you. However, you will only get to talk to your former self for fifteen seconds.
Coincidentally, I've been thinking a lot about my mid-teen years lately.
Implicit in the question is the notion that you'd use those 15 seconds to somehow correct something based on the knowledge you now have. Klosterman says the results tend to split between gender lines -- women "advise themselves not to do something they now regret..., while men almost always instruct themselves to do something they failed to attempt..."
I can't think of a thing.
It's certainly not that I don't have regrets. The piles grow daily, I'm afraid. There's the big ones -- I deeply regret the pain that I caused my first wife when I decided to leave that marriage. Despite knowing that it was the right thing to do, I'll never get over it.
And there are thousands of little regrets. In Toronto a couple of years ago, I ended up at The Rex one afternoon. It was a benefit show for an Asperger's foundation, and a young man with Asperger's spoke briefly about how important the organization was to him. He spoke movingly and as he walked past me I placed my hand on his shoulder in what I intended to be a gesture of support. He didn't flinch, but it was an incredibly dumb thing of me to do and my face gets warm whenever that memory floats by -- which it does uncomfortably often.
And why didn't I help those two young women struggling to pull their cart full of office supplies up the curb as I was headed out to lunch this afternoon?
But what could I tell that fifteen year old self that would, ultimately, have improved my life or enabled me to cause less pain to those around me? I can't think of a thing.
Klosterman pushes you like that. And I know he's going to talk me into buying more records.