Untimely book review: Chuck Klosterman IV

28 Aug
klosterman.jpgChuckles Klosterman’s latest book, IV, isn’t nearly as addictive as Sex, Drugs and Cocoa Puffs (I’m referring to both the book and the actual items), nor is it as personal as Killing Yourself to Live. It’s actually nothing like either of those books; IV is simply a collection of Klosterman’s already-published features found in magazines like Esquire, Spin, etc. Here’s a simple question: do you enjoy Klosterman’s magazine writing? That answer will pretty much spell out whether you’d enjoy the book. You don’t need me to tell you.
In case you care, I enjoyed IV. I’m all about the Klosterman. The book is categorized into three parts: (1) profiles and features on people like Britney Spears, Val Kilmer and Radiohead, (2) essays on everything from monogamy to the Olympics to Barry Bonds and more, and (3) a previously-unpublished short story. The short story basically reads like Klosterman writing a diary entry on something that just happens to be made up (topped with a supernatural ending), but the essays are well worth the book on its own. Say what you will about Klosterman’s writing style; it’d be hard to deny the provocative nature to the theories and concepts he puts forth.

I’ll conclude this lazy “review” by reprinting my two favorite parts of the book. This first excerpt is a quote from Wilco’s Jeff Tweedy regarding the meaning behind “Heavy Metal Drummer.” His explanation made the song about a million times better:

“That song is really just another reminder about not being judgmental and reductive,” he says. “There were many, many nights in St. Louis where me and my friends would go see some punk band, and then we’d all go to the landing on the Mississippi River, because the bars on the landing had a 4 a.m. liquor license. And all us punk guys would sit there and scoff and feel superior to all the heavy-metal bar bands with the big hair and the Spandex, most of whom were having the fucking time of their fucking life. So who was losing? Me. Those guys were getting laid, they were deluding themselves into thinking they were gonna be huge stars, and they were living. And I was dead. I was staring into my drink.”

The second excerpt is easily my favorite passage from Klosterman:

It strikes me that every wrongheaded sentiment in society derives from the culture of inherent, unconditional rightness. As I grow older, I find myself less prone to have an opinion about anything, and to distrust just about everyone who does. Whenever I meet someone who openly identifies themselves as a Republican or a Democrat, my immediate thought is always, Well, this person might be interesting, but they’ll never say anything about politics that’s remotely useful to me. I refuse to discuss abortion with anyone who is pro-life or pro-choice; I refuse to discuss affirmative action with any unemployed white guy or any unemployed black guy. All the world’s stupidest people are either zealots or atheists. If you want to truly deduce how intelligent someone is, just ask this person how they feel about any issue that doesn’t have an answer; the more certainty they express, the less sense they have. This is because certainly only comes from dogma.

People used to slag Bill Clinton for waffling on everything and relying solely on situational pragmatism. As far as I’m concerned, that was the single greatest aspect of his presidency. Life is fucking confusing. I don’t know anything, and neither do you.

If someone could capture the spirit of that outlook into a symbol or design, I think I’d have it tattooed on my forehead.

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One Response to “Untimely book review: Chuck Klosterman IV”

  1. Cool Rut August 28, 2007 at 5:48 pm #

    If you would allow me to share that passage as a favorite with you, I would appreciate it. It made me realize why you seem reluctant to identify as a democrat or argue my position of “when in doubt, vote democrat”. Cool Rut and B have put heads together before (aloha, my hand from hamilton) and came up with some amazing things; I say we get together and capture that spirit in a symbol or design.

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