Retromania

Pop Culture's Addiction to Its Own Past

by Simon Reynolds

Retromania

Paperback, 458 pages, Farrar Straus & Giroux, List Price: $18 | purchase

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Book Summary

We live in a pop age gone loco for retro and crazy for commemoration. Band re-formations and reunion tours, expanded reissues of classic albums and outtake-crammed box sets, remakes and sequels, tribute albums and mash-ups ... But what happens when we run out of past? Are we heading toward a sort of cultural-ecological catastrophe, where the archival stream of pop history has been exhausted? Retromania is the first book to examine the retro industry and ask the question: Is this retromania a death knell for any originality and distinctiveness of our own?

NPR stories about Retromania

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Simon Reynolds' thesis sounds pretty alarmist at first glance: The collective appetite for nostalgia, he argues, is killing innovation and turning pop culture into a museum unto itself. But the big picture isn't what's so engaging about Retromania: It's the details that sell Reynolds' painstaking exploration of how we got to this point.

The book surveys the revival cults of popular music's past — "trad jazz" in postwar America, the ongoing British obsession with 1960s soul —

Daoud Tyler-Ameen

Reviews From The NPR Community

 

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