The Year That Was: Hipster Books

Posted by Jason Diamond

Everybody I know has been called a hipster at least once.  If you wear canvas shoes, you’re a hipster.  If you’re in your 20s, you’re a hipster.  If you live in Brooklyn, Chicago, Portland, Atlanta, Austin or Berlin, then yeah, you’re a hipster.  If you’re writing a novel and your main influence is David Foster Wallace, you’re a hipster.  If you life goal is to become a yuppie, then you my friend are a hipster — and somewhere out there, somebody hates you and your hipster ways.

I guess there’s no running away from it.  You can pull the whole Woody Allen by way of Groucho Marx defense and say you don’t want to be a member of any club that would want to include you, but then you’d just be exposing yourself as a hipster yet again.

So whether you want to admit to being a hipster or not, 2010 saw a bunch of  books that could help you cope.  The only one we really liked was written by Brenna Ehrlich and Andrea Bartz (pictured above), Stuff Hipsters Hate.  It was self-aware and satirical enough to make us think that yes, there are some Tumblr-to-book people out there who deserve the deals.

N+1 also put out a book about hipsters — about how the hipster is dead, or has stopped evolving or something.  We like N+1 and are willing to trust them, and we’re willing to read the excerpt in New York Magazine, just like everybody else did, but would we buy a copy of the book?  Eh, sorry, but we’re in a recession.

I wondered if Andrea and Brenna had read the book, and if they knew that N+1 claimed that they’re people we’re over?  They answered.

Okay, so N+1 put out a book called “What was the Hipster?”  Do you think they were truly looking for an answer to that question or was it rhetorical?

B: It was most likely rhetorical… I’m guessing. I mean, I think the main focus of that book was to declare the hipster dead prematurely.
A: It makes me think of cultural carrion birds, swooping in to prematurely pick it apart. It’s the ultimate act of hipster hate, if you think about it — “Oh god, you still care about hipsters? Sooooo 2010.” Smug superiority lives on.

Did you read the book?

B: Nope, just the article in NyMag, so I’m probably dead wrong about my above statement. I hear it has a lot of words, though.
A: I hear the lynch pin is a transcription of their academic panel. Like, a word-for-word transcription. Boggles the mind.
You got to sit on a panel that was connected to the book.  Was that fun?

B: Sure. I really dug the part where I got to see Gavin McGinnis’s balls. Kiddddding. It was interesting. It was like playtime in the hipster sandbox — everyone was trying steal everyone else’s toys (i.e. the microphone). 

A: My favorite part was when the n+1 kid said that the goal of the original New York panel (the one that preceded the book) was to determine whether hipsterdom is a white supremacy movement.

If the whole hipster thing is dead, are you okay with that?

B: Sure. Then I could take a vacation. Again, jokes. The whole hipster thing isn’t dead. I mean, it’s not exactly a super exclusive, unknown counter culture, but it’s still kicking. I would be upset if by “the whole hipster thing is dead” one meant that creativity was dead. That’s one aspect of that whole thing I like. I wouldn’t be too sad if the coffee shops were a little less crowded, though. 

A: I agree — one need only wander down Metropolitan to see that creative, urban pretty young things with eccentric clothing and unconventional living arrangements are still going strong. The hipster label and associated hallmarks (skinny jeans, plaid, et al) will eventually fade out and others will take their place. That’s fine. That’s how countercultures work.

You wrote a book called “Stuff Hipsters Hate,” that came out this year.  It sort of served the same purpose that a book like “The Preppy Handbook” served in the early 80s.  If the whole hipster thing is dead, how long do you think till it makes a comeback and you’re hailed as a cultural icon?

B: Wait, we’re not cultural icons now?

1 comment

  1. I’d really like someone to write about how the coming of H&M to America allowed 20 somethings not rich enough to buy Urban Outfitters or boutique brands, but not enough time or patience to go to the thrift store to dress look like hipsters at the drop off a hat. Note, this may be more of female thing.