It’s 1994 and I’m working at a Waldenbooks in a mall in upstate New York. My manager Jim (can’t remember his last name) is probably ten years older than me, so he’d been a teenager in the 1970s while I was just a baby and a toddler. I eat up his seventies stories, which he always tells with a very Gen X mixture of sarcastic contempt and wistful nostalgia.
Interview with the Vampire starring Tom Cruise and Brad Pitt is in theaters, so we‘re selling a staggering amount of copies that holiday season. I haven’t yet read Anne Rice’s 1976 novel the film is based on, but I want to. But then Jim describes in delightful “You had to be there” detail what it was like to read it in the seventies. It can be daunting to approach a significant work of popular culture years after the fact, as it almost feels like you’re missing some key ingredient—namely, the time period in which it was made. I start to feel like I could never experience the book the way people did when it came out, so I might as well chalk it up as one more damn thing I was too young to have experienced in the seventies! Dammit, Jim.
Cut to 2020. All these years later I still haven’t gotten around to reading the novel, probably because I’m still in awe and more than a little jealous of grumpy Jim’s experience in the seventies. I have a well-worn used copy in my possession now though, and it’s Halloween season, so I think it’s finally time.
If only I could find Jim and tell him the exciting news!