J. KEMPER CAMPBELL
“The 90s: A Book” by Chuck Klosterman, Penguin Press, 370 pages, $28.
Time is the only thing shared simultaneously by all living beings. Humans attempt to understand the naturally chaotic experience of life by organizing its segments into defined periods that become known as history. “The Nineties” is one such segment.
Chuck Klosterman is a prolific author of non-fiction books and articles on what he considers important aspects of American society, including sports, movies, music, politics, and inventions. He was editor of the ESPN sports and entertainment blog “Grantland”, founded by Bill Simmons, journalist, writer and famous Boston Red Sox fan.
The blog was among this reviewer’s most visited websites before it was canceled in 2015. The Grantland Archives masthead permanently enshrines Nebraska basketball player Terran Petteway alongside Heather Graham, David Duchovny and Seth Rogen.
Author Klosterman is a keen observer of the ever-changing panorama of modern America. In this book he tries to mention every significant personality, trend or innovation of the 10 years that ended the 20th century.
People also read…
Of course, readers won’t agree with some of his choices. Nebraskanians will be happy to find Tom Osborne’s best teams of 1994 and 1997 in his description of the confusion caused by the “Bowl Coalition” method of choosing a national college football champion.
Readers, like this reviewer, who still view Danny and the Juniors as avant-garde, will find Klosterman’s lengthy article on the impact of Nirvana and Kurt Cobain on American music confusing.
However, his analysis of the early development of cell phones and personal computers will be fascinating. The impact of H. Ross Perot and Ralph Nader on the 1992 and 2000 elections is equally insightful. However, pitting former Federal Reserve Chairman Alan Greenspan against Oprah Winfrey seems both confusing and arbitrary. Along the way to his conclusions, he often drops pop culture tidbits such as Garth Brooks preferring to use his middle name since his first name is Troyal.
Ultimately, the book’s value will be readers’ discovery of a mother lode of nostalgia for relatively mild times in our country.
This reviewer fondly remembered playing the computer game “Return to Zork” on his shiny new blue iMac and was prompted to find an audio recording of AOL’s original greeting reminding users that “You have some mail”.
Revisiting a decade when the United States was not involved in a world war, presidential assassination, or pandemic provides a pleasant interlude in this time of international tension.
J. Kemper Campbell, MD, is a retired Lincoln eye doctor who still uses the Jar Jar Binks mouse pad he won along with two tickets to Lincoln’s midnight premiere of “The Phantom Menace” in 1999.