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September 26, 2016

But What if We’re Wrong?

captureBut What If We’re Wrong?

By: Chuck Klosterman

I have been a fan of Chuck Klosterman for several years now. I devoured all eight of his books, and tracked him down on multiple podcasts. When I found out about his newest title, I couldn’t wait to get my hands on it. Luckily, I was able to get a hold of it within a week of its release, and it definitely did not disappoint.

Most simply, Chuck Klosterman is a pop culture writer. He has written several non-fiction collections of essays about life and entertainment in the 21st century, as well as two novels that, without a doubt, have a lot in common tonally with his essays. He has written for magazines and websites, become known as an expert on music, and has conducted an impressive amount of interviews. Basically, his views and opinions make reading about pop culture all the more interesting.

In his new book, But What if We’re Wrong?, Klosterman operates on a premise that has obviously been affecting him for a time. The subtitle of the book is “Thinking About the Present as If It Were the Past,” which is exactly what he sets about doing. Clearly what interests him is what will be remembered of our culture two hundred, five hundred, or a thousand years in the future. In his mind, it’s easy to analyze pop culture in the moment; but how will it be analyzed in the distant future?

Early in the book, he willingly admits that nothing he says can be proven, that his words are just thought experiments. But this is the point, and this is what makes the book fun. He will take one example, say the belief that the Earth is the center of the universe, and apply that to modern television. If, over the course of several hundred years, we changed our mind about the Earth revolving around the sun, who is to say that we will still think The Sopranos is the best show of the era?

If this sounds ridiculous, it is. Klosterman writes with a certain wit, so much so that he is often compared to (another one of my favorite writers) Hunter S. Thompson. The allusions he makes to popular media are broad and stimulating, as he draws from decades of critical writing. Although I could recommend any of his books, this is his best in recent years. By definition, this intriguing collection of think-pieces will not teach you anything new about present-day pop culture, but it will make you think about it in a completely different light.

Review By:  Joseph Wooley