Friday, July 06, 2007

Review: How Sassy Changed My Life

I can't remember whether it was in regards to movies or books or something else, but I remember hearing once that people are really only dissatisfied with said product when it is out of whack with their expectations. That is, a movie can be fine in and of itself, but I won't like it if it was marketed as a light comedy and I expected lots of laughs and it turned out to be a dark tragicomedy. I kept thinking about this concept as I read How Sassy Changed My Life. The book is fine, but I feel dissatisfied somehow, or at least a little confused about it.

I was a Sassy reader, and my copies of the magazine are prized possessions of mine today. My friend Jen introduced me to Sassy in 1989, when we were in Grade 12, and it coincided with -- and probably also spurred -- my awareness of indie culture. (I grew up in a small town before the Internet, so give me a break; I was a late bloomer.) The subtitle of HSCML is "a love letter to the greatest teen magazine of all time." I'm full of love for Sassy, but after reading this book, I'm left wondering who the authors had in mind as their audience. At times it seemed to be women like me for whom Sassy was an important part of growing up; at other times it seemed to address readers who were not familiar with the magazine. I know they have to cover their bases, but for me this approach seemed confused rather than comprehensive.

Perhaps it's because everything I read these days is academic, but I just wanted this book to be more serious somehow. I wished there was some explanation of the authors' methodology; for instance, so many random fans are quoted, but who are they and where did they come from? And -- cue "Petty HSCML Criticism Corner" -- it bugged me that some sources are referred to by first name and others by last name.

I don't want to be too hard on this book; I'm glad it exists. Overall I enjoyed reading it for its gossipy take on the Sassy staffers, and it inspired me to pull out and reread a few old issues. The problem may be mine, in that I expected and wanted something else. Something weightier, more substantial. But in and of itself, HSCML is fine, and if you were a Sassy fan you should probably read it for the nostalgia value. You probably won't learn much, though.

16 comments:

goodkarma said...

I found Sassy the same time you did, at the same age. Sadly, my copies of the magazine are no longer with me. I might check out HSCML from the library...

Chris said...

I missed out on Sassy...

meegiemoo said...

My friend often laments that she got rid of her Sassy stash. I keep hoping to come across some at yard sales or VV but I never do. I guess everyone else is hoarding them.

Knitting Mama said...

I am pretty certain I remember Sassy. But also no longer have copies of that magazine.

Carrie said...

Oooh I loved Sassy! Whether or not it changed my life is up for debate but it was certainly a big part of my teen years. I don't have any issues to look back on though, sigh.

vanessa said...

my dad threw out my entire set of Sassy back issues while i was at college. i'll never forgive him!!!

LEO said...

Hmmm. I was also a Sassy fan, and I suspect these same issues with the book that you mention here would also trouble me. Sadly, I went through a big collage phase in high school and most of my issues of Sassy met their demise then. If only I knew how much I'd want to look back at them later! Honestly though, one thing that bothered me about the magazine was how some things read like in-jokes that I just wasn't in on. I wish I had an example... I was really into the content, just not always the delivery. I suspect a book that goes into staff dynamics is probably not going to rub me the right way.

Thank you for sharing your thoughts, by the way!

anne said...

Oh, Sassy. Thanks for the review. I'll skip the book and leave my sun-dappled (albeit sarcasm-tinged) memories of youth. I kept on with Jane magazine long after it was advisable, in hopes they might reclaim their former glory...

pamela wynne said...

Oh, how I miss Sassy when I see the teen mags today! Half the cool bands I listened to I found in the Sassy "Cute Band Alert," which wasn't really about cuteness at all. Bummer about the book -- I was hoping for some kind of smart analysis of why Sassy was unique and interesting and useful for adolescent girls. Phoey.

Alison said...

Mine also succumbed to various collage projects. I too sometimes felt like I was missing the in-jokes.

I've got this on my list of things to read, but maybe I'll skip it. We'll see.

chez shoes said...

I was just into my 20s when Sassy debuted, and I loved it. I was already entrenched in L.A. indie culture, and as a rebellious postpunk girl little else in the media actually spoke to me.

And yes, I kick myself regularly for not saving my copies. Daily, as a matter of fact.

Marie said...

Big Sassy fan here too.
As a freelance reporter for teen magazines, I keep wondering where the Sassy days have gone.

Anonymous said...

I was in the twenties also, when I discovered Sassy. My roommate's boyfriend was featured the year that guy from Nation of Ulysses won the Sassiest boy in America contest. Ryan was featured as sort of a runner up on the last page of the magazine. It was the coolest. Later, a friend and I went to see Nation of Ulysses in Olympia, but we got there too late. We saw the winner of the Sassiest Boy in America (whose name I can't remember)walking around, and my friend commented to me that clearly Ryan was way sassier than him. Oh, the nostalgia!

I am going to read the book, just for the experience.

cherylc

radmama said...

Sassy opened my mind, especially when my high school bff and I critiqued/debated/discussed bits and pieces.* I think most of our Sassys fell to collage and annotation- we would make comments with markers on pages and pass the magazines back and forth.

That was the early 90's.

*We also just blindly dove into many of the articles and projects. And baby doll dresses with army boots. *shudder*

Mandy said...

I loved Sassy so, so much. I didn't keep all of them, though I wish I had (except for the crappy issues that were published after they were bought); I still have about half of my Sassy magazines. I have wanted to read this book, just because I was so grateful to Sassy for existing... I'm glad to hear your thoughts on it, though. :)

Sara said...

I read the book too. I think the subtitle is wrong. I wanted a lot more magazine content in the book (since I don't have my stash anymore), and I wondered if they couldn't get the rights for it or didn't want to pay for it. It's strange to have a whole book describing a magazine, without pictures of pages, or longer excerpts of articles. It was interesting to hear about how the magazine came about and why it disappeared. Still I agree that it was lacking somehow.