There’s no one more qualified to write [this] than Chuck Klosterman. Always an astute cultural observer and a fan of deep dives into any subject, Klosterman is focused here on a decade in American life that he says is often portrayed as 'a low-risk grunge cartoon' ... There’s nostalgia on every page ... Klosterman’s gift is seizing on those moments that any Gen Xer can readily recall and pulling the strings a bit to put it in some kind of historical perspective ... Klosterman does a good job putting everything in its place.
It is a thoughtful and engaging trip down the Gen-X rabbit hole ... Despite what you may think, this is not a nostalgic book. In so many ways, the fog of nostalgia clouds our perspective on the past. Klosterman not only steers clear of that impulse, he pushes in a direction that is more straightforwardly analytical. This is a book that explores what happened and the subsequent consequences, and along the way, he breaks down the difference between the truth of the moment and the fictionalized stories we tell ourselves ... a bit different than the usual Klosterman fare. It’s a bit headier and a bit more serious, though he never loses track of the sense of the absurd that makes him such an engaging read. Serious, but not self-serious, if that makes sense—Klosterman is writing from a place of thoughtful consideration and in-depth analysis, but he also never stops being funny. It is a clever, smart book that will evoke memories while also causing you to question those same memories.
Compared with the average cultural critic today, whose sensibility was likely shaped by ardent online fandoms and obsessions, Klosterman is cool, even detached. You can find that off-putting, or you can find it (as I do) a refreshing change ... The Nineties isn’t nostalgic—not exactly, at least, since nostalgia implies a voiced dissatisfaction with the present, and Klosterman is too shrewd to waste his time on that ... The Nineties is more a collection of salvaged items than a narrative or an argument. It makes no pretense to comprehensiveness. It’s an eccentric buffet, from which you are free to savor what appeals to you most ... 'Part of the complexity of living through history,' Klosterman writes, 'is the process of explaining things about the past that you never explained to yourself' ... This is by far the most intriguing facet of this book, because who really needs another reflection on the significance of Kurt Cobain ... Is that a project worth attempting? Klosterman argues, persuasively, that it is, because the transformation was so profound. At the same time, it can only be reflected in seemingly trivial fragments ... Klosterman loves a paradox...but he has little interest in following it to a conclusion that weighs in on whether this transformation was good or bad ... Completely surprising, an increasingly rare phenomenon in cultural criticism at a time when everyone seems to say pretty much what you expect them to say. For this reader, at least, that will never go out of style.
His extended description of the dreaded AOL login sequence, with its dial tone, beeps and white noise is positively masterful. He’ll deftly slip in a one-liner ... Klosterman deploys footnotes strategically, giving those readers who bother to read them little bonuses ... The Nineties experience is akin to ruminating in between bong hits on the world that is and the world that should be with a well-read pal who’s way more up than you on Nirvana—a band that receives considerable, perhaps excessive, attention from Klosterman ... Klosterman doesn’t thunder from the mountaintop and is modest about his conclusions, sometimes undermining himself within the same sentence ... And while this is a remarkably Trump-free book, The Nineties might help us all answer that 1980s musical question posed by Talking Heads, 'Well, how did I get here?'
Anything experienced through the screen of a television becomes a TV show,' Klosterman declares, a little too sweepingly ... He's wrong that Generation Z can’t grasp the concept of 'albums'; on the contrary, they have helped drive a recent and robust vinyl revival, and seem fascinated by other tactile phenomena ... Overall one is left with a shuddering sense of X’s insignificance, its preoccupation with what more politically motivated successors deem 'opulent micro-concerns.' It would be more vulnerable to cancellation if it hadn’t already canceled itself. (Is not X the very symbol of cancellation?) By declaring his cohort recessive and unannoying at best, writing indifferent lines like 'times change, because that’s what times do,' Klosterman cunningly sets a low bar for this project. Does it clear it? Well, yes. No. Sometimes.
Klosterman’s remarkable book made me rethink my decade and rethink myself ... The devastating ending of Klosterman’s book, with the frivolous headlines on the newspapers that hit the ground when the 9/11 hijackers boarded, makes one wonder what we are getting wrong now. In 20 years, the Gen Z Klosterman will write the definitive book about whatever this decade is.
The effect is like watching TV with an opinionated but impatient connoisseur of everything that’s on—hopscotching, riffing, channel-flipping. This may be part of the point. The prime mover of the nineties, to Klosterman’s mind, was a machine ... If Klosterman’s aim is to reproduce, in today’s reader, the feel of a bygone era in which people experienced feeling at a great remove, then he has succeeded. By his own logic, a demographic marked by an antipathy to straight emotion and an addiction to recursive thinking...should produce, through him, a knowingly reductive, picture-in-picture self-portrait in which the writer’s impervious affect re-states the unity of medium (TV) and message (its supremacy) ... the affect that pervades The Nineties is corpse-chilled, rigorous in its lack of sensation. Still, it is nostalgia nonetheless, a past prepared for the use of a select community ... If nothing else, one must concur that there are many ways to be annoying. More rerun than revisionism, Klosterman’s history takes its stand against the millennial urge to reassess the nineties (or the generation claiming ownership of them) in the harsh light of later events ... If The Nineties arouses nostalgia, it’s for the enthusiasm, humor, and humility of Klosterman’s early books ... By stiffly performing a set list of ambient anomie, though, Klosterman tunes out the vibrancy and the variable tones of an era.
Idiosyncratic and amusing and very rarely irritating. Its lack of portentousness can be found right there on its cover ... A highly personalized evaluation of recent American history ... Klosterman’s take on all of this often is insightful ... That said, none of it is driven by scholarship. The Nineties is a book about the author’s specific interests. In the acknowledgements, he admits the work is an 'inessential project.' It’s still an entertaining tour. Klosterman skillfully analyzes Gen-X touchstones.
'The video for 'Smells Like Teen Spirit' was not more consequential than the reunification of Germany,' Chuck Klosterman writes in The Nineties. Yet the joyous, maddening thing about this beautiful book is that he clearly believes that it was ... One problem with this book is that Klosterman is such a beautiful writer that it can take a while to realise he isn’t always saying much. His chapter on the internet, for example, is 30 pages long, and has as its only real message the idea that the internet didn’t really get going until the 2000s ... so much in this book...is bang on the line between being a dazzling observation and no observation at all. A bigger problem, at least for me, is that he’s just so American. Should I care about the basketball player Michael Jordan? ... Yes, it drifts and is far too long. Never before, though, have I read such a thorough deconstruction of what formed at least some parts of my cultural identity. And as for the rest? Oh well, whatever. Never mind.
There's not much missing from this delightful collection of quotes and culture ... With humor and history (supported by articles, TV news segments, advertisements, and interviews), Klosterman's volume is the perfect guide for millennials who wear vintage t-shirts ironically ... From politics to Prozac, a fascinating exploration of Generation X from the perspective of those who lived it and witnessed it. Readers will be raiding closets for mom jeans and drawers for scrunchies after reading this nostalgia-inducing book.
Klosterman makes compelling connections ... His writing is strongest when he looks at moments through a contemporary lens ... Wonderfully researched, compellingly written, and often very funny, this is a superb reassessment of an underappreciated decade from a stupendously gifted essayist.
Chuck Klosterman dissects the decade's most iconic people, events and artifacts, using his customary high-energy prose, sidelong point of view and delight in the preposterous ... A wily and pitiless social critic operating from a position of rapt astonishment, Klosterman takes every opportunity to show how one-time cultural high-water marks have been reappraised ... Since it's no longer the '90s, Klosterman will presumably find a way to live with himself should his boffo essay collection become deservedly popular.
'Part of the complexity of living through history is the process of explaining things about the past that you never explained to yourself,' Klosterman writes, and despite some stumbling (the footnotes are annoying and unnecessary) it’s a task that he performs admirably ... For being the guy who is the author of Sex, Drugs, and Cocoa Puffs: A Low Culture Manifesto and Fargo Rock City: A Heavy Metal Odyssey in Rural North Dakota – our great champion of trash – Klosterman also has an adroit sense of media theory, economics, aesthetics, political science, and philosophy. What he may sometimes lack in depth he more than makes up for in breadth, which is precisely what The Nineties required. So complete is his litany that Klosterman not only makes arguments about a super-hit like Friends, but he also discusses instantly forgettable sitcoms like Suddenly Susan and The Single Guy ... isn’t a Generation X encyclopedia, but rather a cognoscente’s argument of synthesis ... A strength of The Nineties is in the aforementioned implicit argument about how our own toxic world cracked from the egg of that decade.
Klosterman returns with an entertaining journey through the last decade of the 20th century ... He brings the decade to vivid new life ... Klosterman delivers a multifaceted portrait that’s both fun and insightful. A fascinating examination of a period still remembered by most, refreshingly free of unnecessary mythmaking.