Wednesday, December 9

tracing shifting affinities

Bill Bryson, you used to be so cool.

during my six-years-ago time in England, someone recommended his Notes from a Small Island. I loved it. it enchanted me. (but then, everything about England does...)

and so, Bryson became one of those authors whose name frequently pops into my head when I'm standing amongst the library shelves, my arms not quite full enough of books. (among others of this type are Terry Pratchett, Laurie R. King, and Nick Hornby. but it's a fluid sort of list.) I read his A Short History of Nearly Everything and actually purchased copies of A Walk in the Woods and Neither Here Nor There. I liked all of those too.

earlier this year I got stuck in the middle of the beginning of Shakespeare: The World as Stage. it got returned to the library unfinished, but I met it again in the summer where it slid off the shelf at my sister's house. that time, I read it all in a desperate, skipping sort of fashion. but that Bill Bryson, he just wasn't the same. why did he write such a random book about Shakespeare? I got the feeling his publisher had twisted his arm and Bryson just couldn't come up with an excuse not to accept.

maybe it's me. maybe I've grown weary of his humor or of his meandering, flippant style. I picked up The Lost Continent a few weeks ago and every time I open up the thing I find myself being dragged through paragraphs of either dull, arrogant complaints or bland, musing praise. every once in a while there is a lump of something really amusing. but most of it--it's just not the Bryson I remember.

I guess things like this happen. change. disillusionment. boredom. there are lots of things I used to think were cool which now that I look at them don't seem that cool after all. like hugh macleod. he used to be insightful and inspiring. now he's too busy selling crazy-giant chunks of art and strangely labeled bottles of wine. and innocent drinks. back in 2004 they had a cheap little website and all they made were smoothies. they were ambitious and clever and they were doing awesome stuff. now their website is crammed, busy, and weirdly animated. they're in a different place now.

so am I, I guess.

conversely, there are plenty of things and people I still think are cool, even after all these years. like jonathan harris. and veer stuff. and alistapart. maybe it's all part of the balance. you lose some, you keep some. nobody really knows why.

what are the things you used to think were cool? why do you think they lost their coolness?

{ images borrowed from the not so deep depths of google.
copyright respective publishers, whoever they are. }

2 comments:

Jeff said...

Yeah, Jack Prelutsky used to make me laugh for hours, now... seconds at best. It's the atmospheric thing I think. Your state of mind is key. (I almost made the very typing blunder that drives me the MOST crazy: you instead of your.) I've determined that so many of my life's "favorites" are only so due to the atmospheric. For instance, my favorite band to this day is my brother's favorite band as well. When did this solidify in my mind? When I was 12ish, he was 22 and seemed so cool. Hence, favorite for life. Perhaps this isn't always the case, but it seems so in my mind.

amelia said...

yeah... I guess life is full of coincidences that add up to different experiences for everyone. at different times. maybe this is all part of the larger question of why we like the things we like at all... and who can really answer that?