Re-evaluating Personal Artifacts: A new project I may or may not abandon in a month

For the past few months, I’ve had a few ideas floating around in my head. I don’t even know if they’re actual ideas so much as figments of possible ideas.

Here’s how it all started.

Two summers ago my friend, The Theologian, and I were talking about books we loved in our twenties. He talked about Sophie’s Choice and I talked about A Prayer for Owen Meany and we both wondered if we would still love them now. If life and our writing education would ruin those books. I vowed to re-read Owen Meany to see if it still holds. He bought me a copy of Sophie’s Choice, because I’d never read it.

I haven’t read either book since we had that conversation.

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Long about May (I think), when I was making a Billy Joel tribute list, Steve announced how he used to love Billy Joel as a kid but pretty much can’t stand his music now.

Huh, I wondered. Is that a male thing? Because I still love Billy Joel and all the misty nostalgia goodness his music brings up. It’s got to be a male thing, I decided. But then I listened to Alanis Morissette’s “Jagged Little Pill” and it was bad. It was beyond bad. It was awful.

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About a month ago while lamenting the sucktasticness of The Astral with Christa, we decided we’d go back and read our favorite books from years gone by. Really see if they hold up, if we still love them like we used to. I vowed, once again, to read A Prayer for Owen Meany.

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Last week, I quickly read the first 50 to 100 pages of three separate novels before dismissing each one. I wasn’t sure about the point of view in that one. The humor in this one is jejune (my new favorite word which is impossible to use without sounding like an asshole, but I don’t care because it fits perfectly here). And that other one? Totally boring.

At that point, I decided that maybe it was me and not the books. I was literarily cranky and annoyed by everything in book form.

So with nowhere else to turn to, and nothing else I wanted to read, I turned to the bookcase and pulled out The Giant’s House by Elizabeth McCracken. This is a book I recommend to anyone who ever asks me for a book suggestion.

When I think of the pop-cultural artifacts that I would gather up to give to someone so they could ‘get’ me or know what kind of person I was based on the media I consumed and enjoyed, The Giant’s House would be in that basket along with “Dawson’s Creek,” the movie “Beautiful Girls,” and a copy of Liz Phair’s “Exile in Guyville.” After all, there’s some credence to what Rob Gordon from “High Fidelity” said about how it’s not what you are like, but what you like that counts.

But then not too long ago, I’d probably have included “Jagged Little Pill” in that basket. And maybe me from 2010 would be appalled that me from 2011 is dissing on something we loved so much in 1995.

So, as my fortieth birthday approaches, I’ve decided to re-evaluate all my personal pop-cultural artifacts to see how they hold up over time, and find out which ones remain in the Chromey Canon and which ones get the boot.

5 Comments
  • hotrod
    November 7, 2011

    [this is good]

  • Lori
    November 7, 2011

    Can’t wait for the results.

  • Amy
    February 23, 2012

    Heh. Lately it seems that every book I read, I wonder if I would have loved/hated it in my 20s. This is an interesting idea. A year or so ago I reread the Kristin Lavransdatter trilogy, which I adored back in the day, but found it completely awful now. Yet the Handmaid’s Tale was almost better now than it was in my 20s (when I loved it too).

    • Jodi
      February 23, 2012

      @Amy, I’m discovering that I had pretty decent taste in books in my 20s. However, my taste in music was deplorable and cringe-worthy.

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