Not Geek Enough


Title: Luke Skywalker Can’t Read

Rating: 2 Stars

I’ve just taken a look at my Goodreads account and it appears that 3 of my last 4 reviews have been 2 stars. Either I’m on a bad stretch or I’m officially a cranky old man. Time will tell.

First of all, a couple of words about my rating system. I always grade tough. Since I’m not a reviewer, I choose which books I read. Therefore, there will always be a selection bias built in. In all likelihood, I’m not going to choose a book that I’m going to hate. Therefore, I grade accordingly. A 5 star review is something that absolutely blows me away. I’m guessing that barely 10 percent of my reviews are 5 star. A 1 star review means that I was barely able to finish it. Again, since I chose, there should be very few of those. In fact, I can only think of two or three.

Finally, I hate giving a book 3 stars. I started all of this because I’ve read enough books now that if I don’t have some kind of a log I will forget it quickly. The purpose is that I can go back at any time and read enough of a review to give me an idea of how I felt about it. A 3 star review essentially tells me nothing. So, a 3 star review truly is a meh. If I think the book is a 2.9, then I roll it down to 2. If I think the book is a 3.1, then I increase it to 3. That gives me a clue, years later, which way I was leaning as I was actually reading the book.

On to Luke Skywalker.

Britt is pretty clearly trying to occupy the same space as Chuck Klosterman. Klosterman is such an interesting writer to me. He writes clever and humorous essays about popular culture. I like clever. I like humor. I like essays. I like popular culture. This should be a slam dunk for me. In fact, I’ve ready several of his books.

He just doesn’t do it for me. I’m not really sure why. I know that I’m comparing apples to oranges, but when I think critical analysis of culture, I think David Foster Wallace. I know that it’s hugely unfair of me to put Klosterman and Wallace in the same ring, but I just can’t seem to help it. Wallace does a brilliant job of deconstructing his subject and presenting it in a way that I’ve never visualized it before. In many stories, he injects his own personal experience into the piece and in so doing, makes it all that much more richer.

In contrast, Klosterman seems hamfisted and amateurish. His personal stories obscure instead of enlighten his points.

I’m afraid Britt is in the same boat. He writes about such subjects as Star Wars, Star Trek, Sherlock Holmes, Back to The Future, and Dracula. All of these subjects are subjects that I either have a basic or a fairly robust knowledge of.

He clearly loves his subject matter, has thought a great deal about it, and writes about it in an engaging way.

It’s just that the conclusions that he draws simply don’t have a lot of depth. Which in a way is a little bit of ironic, because in a lot of these essays they’re attempting to make the argument that there is actually an interesting level of depth in popular culture. It’s hard to make that argument when the argument itself is pretty shallow.

Maybe I just need to set fire to my Consider the Lobster and A Supposedly Fun Thing that I’ll Never Do Again books and just realize that Wallace was a circus freak of a writer, never of which will I see the likes of again.

Hopefully, I’m not just getting cranky.


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