I Want to Care About Your Book

When you give your Dad the url of your book blog, it's inevitable you're going to write a post on said blog that might not be Dad-friendly. This is that post. Dear Dad, you may not enjoy some of the language or vague personal details in this post.

There was such a buzz, at least within nerd girl circles, about I Don't Care About Your Band when it came out. Finally! One of us! Julie Klauser is my age, judging by the stories inside; she's not a cheerleader or the popular girl, she's a "chubby" (?) Jewish redhead who's into Broadway musicals. She's a bit odd, she's smart, she's funny. Not stand-out odd, like the goth kids, or the troubled girls who wound up in group homes. Just odd enough that people forget she's there some of the time. She's that dorky kid I was in school, that no one thought would ever have a boyfriend, let alone engage in one-night stands and a series of flings. Julie Klausner and I figured out boys at some point, and we made up for lost time.

When Tiger Beatdown made a passing reference to Klausner a couple weeks back, that was all the motivation I needed to pick up a copy. Later, a friend Twittered about not quite knowing what to do with I Don't Care About Your Band. There was something vaguely wrong about the book for her. I felt it too, and having now finished the book, I have some specifics.

First, I found the overall tone to be a bit too Sex and the City. I loved Sex and the City, but there's only room for one Carrie Bradshaw. Carrie rides that line between awesome and annoying a lot, and any immitators will always fall on the "annoying" side, by virtue of not being first. While Klausner actually says something about not being Carrie, she actually kind of is. She lives in Manhattan with mystery money (her sketcky employment record does not say "apartment in the City" to me), she talks about about Manhattan as the centre of her world, and boys, and clothes, and fucking. Sure, she likes different boys and clothes than Carrie would, but the way she talks about sex is pretty similar. Yes, she throws in the references to Usenet and MST3K that the dorky girls will grok, and she likes Slater-Kinney so she's got the 90s cool chick band cred, but she doesn't show enough of this personality to convince me that she's something different than I've seen before. It's almost the same girl in new clothes (and Manhattan apartment, and boys, and fucking). All this is a shame, because when we get pure Klausner, she is really, really likeable, and probably someone I'd want to hang out with*.

Klausner has some honestly weird and troubling things to say about gays and lesbians. She spends a chapter insisting that every straight girl procure herself a gay, as if he was a consumer product a girl simply shouldn't live without. She insists that straight girlfriends are too often fairweather, and friendships with straight men will often be complicated by sexual attraction (and activity). And you know, she's probably right about the relationships between straights. Thing is, gay men are still people and they should probably have a say in existing soley to prop up straight girls. As well, she has this weird idea about what sort of porn lesbians are into **.
I'm not saying I don't watch porn. Of course I watch porn, because I am not a nun. And I don't watch "erotica" with a "story" or "period costumes" in it, because I am also not a lesbian."
I realise this is an attempt at humour, Klauser being first and foremost a comedy writer. It just wasn't funny, and it rang false. It seems to me that the "erotica" is more aimed at that stereotypical middle-America minivan mom who enjoys a good Danielle Steel novel. Then again, I'm making judgments here as well. Who knows who that shit is made for. Let's just all agree it's dull, and not make anyone watch it. The point is, Klausner too often uses gays and lesbians as punchlines and props for her comedy bits, and I thought we had sort of gotten past that.

Also, little picky thing, but I hate Klausner's editor. I think they reined in her personality too much, while asking her to amp up the sex and preachy advice. In the meantime, [they forgot to correct her when she calls a verb a noun ("He was 'chill,' which is a noun that dicks have recently made into an adjective.")I stand corrected! One can catch "a chill." Still, it feels damn verb-y to me!!] they let her get away with strange anachronisms, like mentioning Miley Cyrus in the chapter where she describes being 15. Miley, my friends, was not even born then.

There's some really great stuff in I Don't Care About Your Band, like the part where she classifies vegans (Animal Rights, Anti-Chemical, and Anorexic), or her very insightful ideas on why some men want the plain girl ("The ultimate emo-boy fantasy is to meet a nerdy, cute girl just like him, and nobody else will realise she's pretty."), which she wonderfully dovetails into a warning about "nice guys." Ultimately, my problem with I Don't Care About Your Band is that it comes off more like a self-help book about ego and relationships, than a memoir. I would have enjoyed and identified with a memoir, but instead I felt like I was reading "The Alterna-Rules for Young Women." The target audience is likely younger than Klausner and I, someone who's in the midst of trying to navigate the crazy casual-sex 20s. I've lived this, and while I wouldn't mind laughing along with someone who lived it too, I don't need the slight pedantry and weird/wise older-sister vibe.

*Except, she doesn't care about Star Wars, and that's kind of unforgivable.
**I really wish I could remember where I read something about lesbians watching gay male porn, but I can't, and I'm SOOOOO not googling "lesbian+gay+male+porn" because I'm pretty sure I'm not going to find what I'm looking for... or will I?


J said...
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J said...

Just read this book a week or so ago and had similar issues with it. There were parts I enjoyed but overall, I felt like it should have been better.

Allison said...

Thanks for your comment.

As someone in their 20s, I thought that this book was entertaining and insightful. So perhaps you've got it right, it's not really meant for Klausner's contemporaries, but someone slightly younger and more confused. Her take on gays and lesbians was a bit weird at times, but I appreciated the insight and the fact that she wasn't afraid to write about the guys who were dickheads. She didn't seem to blame herself more than she deserved, and I appreciated that.