“This did not seem like the future.”

There are many moments in Chuck Klosterman’s Sex, Drugs, and Cocoa Puffs when I find him exasperating. In “(anti-homeless interlude),” where he bewails a beggar for her disturbing him, the irony does not quite play as well as he thinks: it’s supposed to be about the writer’s self-absorbtion, but the woman remains an inhuman prop. In something like “Every Dog Must Have His Every Day, Every Drunk Must Have His Drink,” his sloppy arguments in favor of Billy Joel remain are a petulant whine, touching in their sincerity while empty of persuasion: the cool kids don’t like Billy Joel because he lacks the je ne sais pas of coolness. They make me wonder if I overestimate the thoughts in his head; his repulsive remarks about Lucinda Williams in “Toby Over Moby” make me want to throw a bottle at it. You keep going, however, because he can often be a very funny and insightful writer. The essay, “Porn”, on the seaminess of the early internet, shows him off at his best; here is a fragment:

People always forget how new the Internet truly is. I was a senior in college during the spring of 1994, and I knew exactly two people who had e-mail addresses. They wrote e-mails to each other. It seemed completely impractical and a total waste of time. From what I could tell, the only people who were sending e-mail were people who drank Zima, and they mostly used the Internet to discuss properties of calculus or to send Steven Wright jokes to other weirdos in Canada. They were mostly CompuServe users. I can recall an extremely antisocial MC Hammer fan in my dormitory who had a Macintosh in his room and once tied up the phone line for five hours while he downloaded the Batman logo for no apparent reason; soon after, he unsuccessfully tried to commit suicide by taking an overdose of Ibuprofen. This did not seem like the future.

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