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Fargo Rock City: A Heavy Metal Odyssey in Rural North Dakota [Paperback]

Chuck Klosterman
3.7 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (43 customer reviews)
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Book Description

May 1 2002
Empirically proving that -- no matter where you are -- kids wanna rock, this is Chuck Klosterman's hilrious memoir of growing up as a shameless metalhead in Wyndmere, North Dakotoa (population: 498). With a voice like Ace Frehley's guitar, Klosterman hacks his way through hair-band history, beginning with that fateful day in 1983 when his older brother brought home Mötley Crüe's Shout at the Devil. The fifth-grade Chuck wasn't quite ready to rock -- his hair was too short and his farm was too quiet -- but he still found a way to bang his nappy little head. Before the journey was over, he would slow-dance to Poison, sleep innocently beneath satanic pentagrams, lust for Lita Ford, and get ridiculously intellectual about Guns N' Roses. C'mon and feel his noize.

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Fargo Rock City: A Heavy Metal Odyssey in Rural North Dakota + Eating the Dinosaur + Sex, Drugs, and Cocoa Puffs: A Low Culture Manifesto
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Product Description

From Publishers Weekly

Klosterman's highly touted debut has as much to do with Fargo, N.D., as the Coen brothers' slice of Americabre, Fargo. That is, nothing at all, really. Misleadingly titled to cash in on Fargo's cinematic mystique, Klosterman's memoir about growing up a sexually repressed metalhead, with a humiliating (mom-dictated) Richie Cunningham haircut is actually set in Wyndmere, N.D. Klosterman starts up with a bang ("You know, I've never had long hair"), shifts gears often (from memoir to music criticism, somewhat jarringly at times), and rarely idles. Ultimately, though, Klosterman, ironic throughout the book, does not write with enough sincerity to prove his thesis "that all that poofy, sexist, shallow glam rock was important." Granted, it's a daunting task to write a hymn of praise to the genre that spawned David Lee Roth so the author wisely stretches his pop-culture references like taffy. In the final chapter Klosterman, now an arts critic for Ohio's Akron Beacon Journal, quotes a friend's definition of a "guilty pleasure" "something I pretend to like ironically, but in truth is something I really just like" to explain how he really feels about glam metal. His closing summation of what metal means to isolated kids in the heartland will strike a power chord for many readers. (May)Forecast: Klosterman has tapped a gold mine. Fans of 1980s M”tley Cre, Poison and Ratt are pushing 30 and 40 and seeking a nostalgia trip. Also, Gear magazine will run an excerpt of the book along with a conversation between Klosterman and Aerosmith singer Steven Tyler.

Copyright 2001 Cahners Business Information, Inc.

--This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.

From Library Journal

Let it be known that Fargo Rock City does not detail a burgeoning music scene in North Dakota's largest city (population: 70,000). Nor is it a yarn about a heavy metal band gigging across the frozen tundra of the Red River Valley. Rather, it's one Middle American's memoir of growing up with and loving 1980s heavy metal (e.g., Ratt, Poison, and Guns 'n' Roses). In other words, this book is for the myriad metal-heads from Fargo to Phoenix who inked "M?tley Cr?e" on their notebooks during high school study halls. The music, film, and culture critic at Ohio's Akron Beacon Journal, Klosterman uses refreshingly candid language: reading his debut is like overhearing a drunken discussion between two music fans. He nicely blends metal music theory with compelling tales of self-realization. Perhaps more than a memoir, this is a seriocomedic defense of a culture that was only cool to those who participated in it. Recommended for all public libraries, especially those in the heartland.
- Robert Morast, "Argus Leader Daily," Sioux Falls, SD
Copyright 2001 Reed Business Information, Inc. --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.

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You know, I've never had long hair. Read the first page
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Customer Reviews

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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars small town bustout July 19 2004
By C M H
Format:Paperback
As an '80's kid growing up in rural Indiana, there weren't a lot of ways to imagine the world outside. T.v. was stupid, the movie theater was forty minutes away, and even the local library wasn't all it was cracked up to be. My conduit for fantasies of a faster, more glamorous life was the radio.
It was the same for Mr. Klosterman, as told in Fargo Rock City. The glam-metal bands of his time set out a full plate of crashing chords, easy women, and free-flowing booze. He (nor I,)never tasted any of those things personally, but the bands painted a vivid enough picture to focus on a better life in the wide world - after high school, when your mom could no longer dictate your hairstyle.
This is a light read, certainly. Mr. Klosterman's book is meant as no more than a remembrance of things past. Even his dissection of what separates "poseur" bands from the "real rockers" is a throwback - what is easily recognized as rock marketing today could get you in fistfights with your Slayer-loving brethren back in '88.
So scratch your itch for "serious" lit elsewhere - Fargo Rock City is meant for fun, and Mr. Klosterman does an admirable job of providing it.
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5.0 out of 5 stars One of the best I've ever read March 14 2004
Format:Paperback
Never having had the slightest interest in metal when I was growing up, I had no reason to pick up this book until someone I trusted actually sent me his copy. I've since loaned it to another guy who was into metal in the 80's and 90's. He says it was the first book to articulate -- in eloquent, common style -- what it was that made such a lowly regarded musical form so connective with kids, and how not to be ashamed of it as if it were some curio from the past. Having finished Fargo Rock City, I can't understand why anyone would be ashamed of it either. The book starts off as an apologist act, but eventually justifies hair metal alongside any other cultural movement that got "credit" from the critics. Klosterman's book is so persuasive and sure-headed -- even as it describes typical teenage doubt and identity crisis -- that it inspires both admiration and astonishment that nobody has tried it before. And after years of massive resistance on my part, it actually made me want to go and check out Motley Crue and Cinderella. And it's extremely, extremely entertaining. I don't laugh out loud much when reading books; by my count it happened about six times with this one. ANYWAY....
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2.0 out of 5 stars Don't waste your time or money... March 10 2004
By A Customer
Format:Paperback
I have a different background and upbringing than Chuck Klosterman, but we are the exact same age. Much of what he wrote about in "Fargo Rock City" I can relate to: replace "Pyromania" with his beloved "Shout at the Devil" album when we were both young lads, and he might as well be describing the musical aspects of my early life. The early '80s were indeed a burgeoning time for up-n-coming metal bands, and Klosterman was correct in pursuing their history from a true metalhead's viewpoint. Laugh if you will, but the arena-ready acts Klosterman describes sold millions of records, and some enjoyed extended careers - 10-15 years, 5-7 albums. (Puddle of Mudd and Bush got nothin' on that!)
ANYWAY, I have a dim take on this book; I didn't enjoy it, which is unfortunate because I was psyched to read it, based on the subject matter and glowing reviews up front (not counting Stephen King's accolade, since King has been known to love the CRAPPIEST of horror novels). Klosterman lays it all on the line. His style is severely rambling - thought to thought, group to group - but that's not even the biggest problem. I mean, I expected a rambling memoir about '80s metal when I bought the book. The author is passionate, no doubt, but passionate about what? I'm not sure even he could answer that question. The guy self-conciously changes his mind or condradicts himself nearly every other sentence, like some teenage girl who's worried what her popular girlfriends will think if she dates the class geek. (You know, like those Molly Ringwold flicks created during the years of Klosterman's discourse.)
Many of the author's observations are absurd, and I suppose that's his right since it's his damned book.
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4.0 out of 5 stars Remember the '80s? Feb. 1 2004
By A. Ross
Format:Paperback
At the very end of his Midwestern memoir/history of hair metal Klosterman writes: "Very often, I inexplicably embrace the same ideas I just finished railing against: Part of me wants to insist that heavy metal really _is_ stupid. I make fun of the same people who loved the bands I loved (and still do). Social pressure has made me cannibalize my own adolescent experience." This serves as a remarkably self-perceptive summation of the book, and highlights its main weakness. The book veers wildly from hyper-erudite wink-wink, nudge-nudge mockery of hair metal (Motley Crue, Def Leppard, Van Halen, Guns N' Roses, et al), to heartfelt declarations of its centrality of meaning to Klosterman during his teen years. The same tension pervades his next book (Sex, Drugs, and Cocoa Puffs), and it's a shame that just when it seems he's ready to fully commit to an idea, he spends the next several pages tearing it apart. This makes for often hilarious reading, but is also in a sense cowardly.
That said, it's a remarkably entertaining read, even for non-metal fans like me. It does help, however, to have grown up at the same time as him (graduating high school at the end of the '80s), and my reading was enhanced by memories of one of my closest friends having rather inexplicably been a hair metal fan at the time, right down to the Lita Ford and Skid Row albums. Right from the start, Klosterman links his heavy metal fandom to the utter boredom of his small-town surroundings (despite the book's title, Klosterman grew up in Wyndmere, ND and Fargo has pretty much nothing to do with the story). The fantasy lifestyles of hair metal bands were so far removed from rural life, and so predictably offensive to adult authority figures that there was a natural synergy with bored small town kids.
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Most recent customer reviews
4.0 out of 5 stars Klosterman is highly readable
Author Chuck Klosterman loves the big hair bands of the 80's, so much in fact that he wrote this book partly as biography and partially to defend the genre that is referred to as... Read more
Published on March 23 2012 by Tommy Skylar
1.0 out of 5 stars How kitsch is our sincerity.
My roommate lent me this book, which I believe he bought on a lark in Union Station (DC), to distract himself during the nine-hour train ride to Boston. Read more
Published on July 5 2004 by "justinchend"
5.0 out of 5 stars Why yes, I am ready to rock. Thanks for asking.
This is one of the best metal-related books I've ever read. It focuses on the 80's hair metal scene and it's affect on pop culture, as well as seeing how that music reflected the... Read more
Published on July 2 2004 by Justin G.
2.0 out of 5 stars Big Hair, Little Substance
With a title like "Fargo Rock City," and especially with a subtitle promising "A Heavy Metal Odyssey in Rural North Dakota," I was excited about this book. Read more
Published on April 2 2004 by Timothy A. Rundquist
5.0 out of 5 stars And I didn't even listen to heavy metal (in public)
Chuck Klosterman's book of heavy metal criticism is really a book about himself. He reveals, by writing about the music he loved growing up, all the attachments teenagers make to... Read more
Published on Nov. 17 2003 by Clinton Williamson
4.0 out of 5 stars Very funny autobiography/rock criticism book
"Fargo Rock City" is an autobiographical look at how the heavy metal bands of the 80's affected the author, Chuck Klosterman, during his youth in North Dakota. Read more
Published on Sept. 10 2003 by E A Glaser
5.0 out of 5 stars We need more books like this one
This book is great because it's so personal. If you don't like 1980s heavy metal, you should read this the same way you'd read about tribal customs in central Africa or Irish pub... Read more
Published on Aug. 22 2003 by SPM
2.0 out of 5 stars Many errors keep this at about a two star book
I learned early on in the book there would be several errors and I was not disappointed. On top of that everything I read I knew inside and out and feel most fellow lovers of... Read more
Published on Aug. 7 2003 by Vince Perri
4.0 out of 5 stars Chuck is a Rock God -- Honestly
At first, I was a bit disappointed by the book and then I read the epilogue. Why wasn't it more of a memoir? Why was it filled with so much analysis? Read more
Published on June 17 2003 by Robert Wellen
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