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From Barnes & NobleThe Barnes & Noble Review
"I am the least likely celebrity in the world. That's what I am famous for," writes Harry Knowles, founder of the infamous and omniscient film-geek web site Ain't It Cool News. Now Hollywood's redheaded stepchild tells how he rose from obsessive obscurity to become one of the most authoritative industry watchdogs -- and hard-core fans -- on the Web.
"I was raised on everyone's communal memories," said Knowles in an interview with The New York Times Magazine. "My whole life, I've been force-fed the cult obscurities, the collective marvels of every different age of cinema." From a family of "Gypsy vagabonds" who traveled to conventions to sell memorabilia and collectibles to unhappy isolation on a ranch in Texas after his parents' rocky divorce, with nothing around for miles but open land and a collection of comic books, paperbacks, and 5,000 videotapes, Knowles grew up to be nothing if not obsessed with pop culture. But in 1994, Knowles was quite literally crushed by memorabilia -- when 1,200 pounds of posters and collectibles toppled off a dolly and fell on him, leaving him paralyzed from the waist down for months. It was an accident one can't help but view as symbolic; but rather than finding ruin, Knowles found his true calling on the computer in his bedroom in Austin, Texas. "The original impetus for Ain't It Cool News was very simple. I was paralyzed, laid up in bed, and wanted someone to know who I was, in case I died," writes Knowles. From this unlikely beginning, Knowles tracks his rise to Internet celebrity, first by word-of-mouth in the fledgling Internet newsgroups, then with boosts from the legendary Matt Drudge of the Drudge Report and, most significantly, Quentin Tarantino. (Tarantino, incidentally, has written the introduction to this book.)
Fans of Ain't It Cool News will embrace the story of the origins of the site and its early struggles to stay online -- without paying for Internet access -- as well as a brief introduction to some of Knowles's "spies" and his inner circle. He also, for the first time, goes public about major mistakes he has made, as well as offering up his own self-criticism for being "just the tiniest bit startstruck." But at the heart of this book is the story of a guy obsessed with movies who believes in a fundamental principle ("Movies should be better. And someone should be held accountable when they're not") and is ultimately a trustworthy fan who believes there is still hope for Hollywood. Read this book, pass it along to your fellow obsessive friends. Ain't it cool? (Elise Vogel)