Lizzie's Reviews > The Jams

The Jams by Ken Quemuel
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's review
Feb 16, 2012

really liked it
bookshelves: 2012, embarrassing-subway-laughter, nonfiction, new-and-exciting, gave-away-or-left-behind
Read on February 16, 2012

I basically bought this as soon as Kfan reviewed it, because firstly it is an awesome idea, and secondly I immediately thought of at least two people I wanted to get to read it too. (Partly on the strength of "End of the Road" all on its own. Come on.)

So, I am a super great one for seemingly useless memories. It's possible that it is my actual favorite thing. Telling a memory. I love telling them, and I love hearing them. Complete strangers, no context, and somehow still a perfect story is rendered. It twinges every emotion at the same time, hearing them. I believe that's the feeling behind this project.

I was 10, 20 years ago, and didn't know a lot of these songs. I think that people who did love these songs will like this, but even though the songs aren't me at all, what's very me is being thrilled by everyone being into it. So it works.

I expected all of the memories to be from people older than me -- like I was somehow opted out by my age -- but in fact about 30% of them seem to be about being a very small kid and absorbing, the way you do. What song your mom loved.

It's a super funny read, though. The shmoopiness is not the top layer. It is at least the eighth layer. Above it there is hilariousness, then odd vagueness, then odd specificity. ("Dat was da shit in Holland. 1990s.") Yes, reading YouTube comments organically is kind of a pain in the ass, and it's quite possible that some people of the type inclined to give speeches on the devastation of the English language what with IMing texting THE INTERNET and KIDS TODAY would rather fork their eye than read this through. But personally I deeply, seriously dig vernacular, like, it is just really important to me ok, and so reading a well-curated collection of it was kind of heavenly.

(My own very short-lived period of popular-music-buying in the form of maxi cassette singles was more like 1995. "Un-Break My Heart." Babyface. I also owned that Enigma song. I really didn't know what I was doing. I had a fairly lengthy phase in middle school of setting my clock radio to "sleep" to Delilah After Dark. I loved that song "Masterpiece.")

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