Chuck Klosterman


 

"Chuck Klosterman IV: A Decade of Curious People and Dangerous Ideas "

(Reviewed by Tony Ross AUG 11, 2007)

My take on Klosterman is this: if you absolutely must get a pop culture fix by reading about inane movie stars or overrated bands, you might as well read someone who is smart and funny about them, and that person is Klosterman. Although not a metal fan, I loved Fargo Rock City, and found his essays in Sex, Drugs, and Cocoa Puffs exceedingly funny. Killing Yourself To Live didn't work as well for me, and I was glad to get another dose of his shorter works here (all of which were previous published). The book (whose title is a reference/homage to albums by both Led Zepplin and Black Sabbath) is divided into three parts.

"Things That Are True" contains about twenty profiles and pieces of reportage. Included are the best Britney Spears profile ever ("Britney Spears is the most famous person I've ever interviewed. She is also the weirdest. I assume this is not a coincidence."), a very good U2 piece ("U2 is the most self-aware rock band in history. This generally works to their advantage."), and solid profiles of musicians The White Stripes, Radiohead, The Streets, Billy Joel, Jeff Tweedy, and metal tribute bands. There are also profiles of actor Val Kilmer, basketball superstar Steve Nash, a Q&A with Robert Plant, experiential pieces on Latino Morissey fanatics, the unofficial "Goth Day" at Disneyland, Akron-area clairvoyants, and a "Rock Cruise" (featuring Styx, REO Speedwagon, and Journey), and contrarian review essays on the documentaries "Super Size Me" and "Some Kind of Monster."

The somewhat briefer "Things That Might Be True" section contains about fifteen more personal opinion pieces written in recent years for Esquire (these are available at Esquire.com) and Spin magazines. Topics include how to recognize your personal nemesis and archenemy, the Olympics, guilty pleasures, monogamy, the ten most accurately rated artists in rock history, pirate vogue, robots, genetics, watching VH1 for 24 hours, etc. The final section, "Something That Isn't True At All," is a 35-page "not-so-loosely autobiographical" short story written back in 1999.

The style throughout is pure Klosterman, although there is a certain sympathy or quasi-compassion in some of the pieces that plays a nice counterbalance to his natural snarkiness. One rather refreshing element is the newly written introductions to each item in the first section. These provide an interesting context and are a peek into how a magazine writer might come to regret elements of their work. The pieces in the second section are introduced by the kind of pithy hypotheticals he unveiled in Sex, Drugs, and Cocoa Puffs. Ultimately, the best way to read the book is leave it lying around the house and anytime you're tempted to pick up Entertainment Weekly or US or flip on MTV, pick it up and read something far funnier, smarter, and more insightful. Sure, it's just pop culture, but that doesn't mean it has to be idiotic.
  • Amazon readers rating: from 52 reviews


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About the Author:

Chuck KlostermanChuck Klosterman was born in 1972 in Breckenridge, Minnesota. He was raised on a farm near Windmere, North Dakota and graduated from the University of North Dakota in 1994. After college he was a journalist in Fargo and later and arts critic for the Akron Beacon Journal in Ohio, before moving to New York City in 2002.

He was a senior writer for Spin and contributes regularly to Esquire. He has also written for GQ, The New York Times, The Believer and The Washington Post.

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