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Sex, Drugs, and Cocoa Puffs: A Low Culture Manifesto [Hardcover]

Chuck Klosterman
3.8 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (38 customer reviews)
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Book Description

Aug. 26 2003
From the author of the highly acclaimed heavy metal memoir, Fargo Rock City, comes another hilarious and discerning take on massively popular culture—set in Chuck Klosterman’s den and your own—covering everything from the effect of John Cusack flicks to the crucial role of breakfast cereal to the awesome power of the Dixie Chicks.

Countless writers and artists have spoken for a generation, but no one has done it quite like Chuck Klosterman. With an exhaustive knowledge of popular culture and an almost effortless ability to spin brilliant prose out of unlikely subject matter, Klosterman attacks the entire spectrum of postmodern America: reality TV, Internet porn, Pamela Anderson, literary Jesus freaks, and the real difference between apples and oranges (of which there is none). And don’t even get him started on his love life and the whole Harry-Met-Sally situation.

Whether deconstructing Saved by the Bell episodes or the artistic legacy of Billy Joel, the symbolic importance of The Empire Strikes Back or the Celtics/Lakers rivalry, Chuck will make you think, he’ll make you laugh, and he’ll drive you insane—usually all at once. Sex, Drugs, and Cocoa Puffs is ostensibly about art, entertainment, infotainment, sports, politics, and kittens, but—really—it’s about us. All of us. As Klosterman realizes late at night, in the moment before he falls asleep, “In and of itself, nothing really matters. What matters is that nothing is ever ‘in and of itself.’” Read to believe.

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Product Description

From Publishers Weekly

There's a lot more cold cereal than sex or drugs in Klosterman's nostalgic, patchy collection of pop cultural essays, which, despite sparks of brilliance, fails to cohere. Having graduated from the University of North Dakota in 1994, Klosterman (Fargo Rock City) seems never to have left that time or place behind. He is an ironically self-aware, trivia-theorizing, unreconstructed slacker: "I'm a `Gen Xer,' okay? And I buy shit marketed to `Gen Xers.' And I use air quotes when I talk.... Get over it." The essay topics speak for themselves: the Sims, The Real World, Say Anything, Pamela Anderson, Billy Joel, the Lakers/Celtics rivalry, etc. The closest Klosterman gets to the 21st century is Internet porn and the Dixie Chicks. This is a shame, because he's is a skilled prose stylist with a witty, twisted brain, a photo-perfect memory for entertainment trivia and has real chops as a memoirist. The book's best moments arrive when he eschews argumentation for personal history. In "George Will vs. Nick Hornby," a tired screed against soccer suddenly comes to life when Klosterman tells the story of how he was fired from his high school summer job as a Little League baseball coach. The mothers wanted their sons to have equal playing time; Klosterman wanted "a run-manufacturing offensive philosophy modeled after Whitey Herzog's St. Louis Cardinals." In a chapter on relationships, Klosterman semi-jokes that he only has "three and a half dates worth of material." Remove all the dated pop culture analyses, and Klosterman's book has enough material for about half a really great memoir.
Copyright 2003 Reed Business Information, Inc.

From Booklist

In Fargo Rock City (2001), Klosterman parsed the midwestern heavy-metal scene. Now he broadens his scope to include the cultural implications of subjects as diverse as the Dixie Chicks, Internet porn, and soccer ("'the sport of the future' since 1977"). Fargo Rock City fans may blanch at chapter headings invoking the likes of George Will and Lisa Loeb, but never fear. "George Will vs. Nick Hornby: Ralph Nader Interlude" isn't about Will's wordy conservative philosophy but about Klosterman's tenure coaching a kids' soccer team, among other things. And it's the other things that account for Klosterman's appeal as he makes unexpected connections. Inspired by an early '80s NBA rivalry, he opines that "everyone who truly cares about basketball subconsciously knows that Celtics vs. Lakers reflects every fabric of male existence, just as everyone who loves rock 'n' roll knows that the difference between the Beatles and the Stones is not so much a dispute over music as it is a way to describe your own self-identity." Well, of course. Mike Tribby
Copyright © American Library Association. All rights reserved

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Customer Reviews

Most helpful customer reviews
5 of 5 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Worth a Look! July 16 2005
The topics covered in Sex, Drugs, and Cocoa Puffs are entertaining enough, but Klosterman's writing style is what really makes the book sparkle. The writing drips with an oily sheen of sarcasm and puffs itself up with a mixture of self-importance and self-deprecation. Each page is packed with dozens of pop culture references, juxtaposing topics as diverse as The Cosby Show, Bridget Jones' Diary, Lloyd Dobler, and they way Coldplay manufactures fake love the way the Ford corporation manufactures Mustangs all within the space of a paragraph. It's a safe bet that no one is going to catch every cultural curve ball that Klosterman throws, but it's even more likely that every few pages you'll run across some obscure cultural nod that most people would scratch their heads at, and you'll feel a guilty sense of pride for knowing something so insignificantly obscure.
Granted, since this writing style goes on for almost two hundred and fifty pages, it can get a tiny bit grating. Klosterman occasionally comes off as too smug, as if he's trying to justify his hipper-than-thou attitude. The writing can feel a little too glib for some of the subject matter, such as when he explores America's obsession with serial killers. He also throws in a little too much "golly, I'm just a humble grown-up-nerd from Fargo in the crazy world of popular culture" confession. The first few times this attitude surfaces, it helps to establish where Klosterman's is approaching everything from, but eventually we just wish he'd get back to making fun of the over hyped from today's world and praising the obscure facets of our youth that we haven't though about in twenty years.
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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Klosterman V: Satisfaction at last? Dec 2 2007
Mr. Klosterman opens by stating that no woman will ever satisfy him. By the end, he's put down half of America, wants to punch Magic Johnson, slams cover bands plus Kid Rock, and even takes a jab at Jenny McCarthy (but who can blame him on this last point!). Mr. Klosterman is a very angry man; he would say he's honest, I would say he's angry. In his defense, he's a very good writer, who's analytical, has an interesting take on things, and has a creative way of expressing himself. Overall, this is actually a pretty entertaining read that I also found a bit unpleasant due to his vitriol. Author of Adjust Your Brain: A Practical Theory for Maximizing Mental Health.
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3.0 out of 5 stars Tasy Cereal....but with an aftertaste July 10 2004
By Westley
"Sex, Drugs, and Cocoa Puffs" is an essay collection that draws comparisons between popular culture and important social and interpersonal issues. It also happens to be extremely witty at times. Chuck Klosterman is a writer for Spin magazine, so he clearly knows pop culture and can write quality essays. The best of his work here truly encapsulates life. Who cannot relate to this quote? - "Every relationship is fundamentally a power struggle, and the individual in power is whoever likes the other person less." That profundity, by the way, is from an essay that discusses the merits of "When Harry Met Sally"; another section proffers the genius of Billy Joel. Yes, Klosterman is a bit of a hipster geek.
Pop culture references are sprinkled throughout the book, but sometimes it stretches a bit too much for the sake of a clever analogy. In the forward, Klosterman assserts that, at times, he feels as though "everything is completely connected." Unfortunately, he is not adept enough to make all of his essays into a cohesive whole (as other reviewers have noted). Ultimately, the book feels like a loose collection of unrelated but very funny skits. Although that debit doesn't sink the book, it does lessen its impact. In addition, Klosterman is sometimes too self-aware for his own good; several times, he makes reference to liking something "unironically" - such as "Saved by the Bell." His definitive goal seems to be achieving irony. While this credo certainly makes "Sex, Drugs, and Cocoa Puffs" a funny read, it can become rather tedious as well. Overall, I'd recommend this book, but with reservations.
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4.0 out of 5 stars If only you could talk back to a book April 18 2004
By Katie
Chuck Klosterman's essays strike a chord with me, and most likely with a number of people between the ages of 25-35. He talks about life and the meaning and condition of life as reflected in the various forms of entertainment we have absorbed throughout our lives.
There will be something for you to latch onto and other things to disagree with in each essay. Each is similar to topics of conversation at every bar or cocktail party in America. The only frustrating thing is that it's a book, not a dialogue.
Because many books of essays are thoroughly new and educational to me, I am content to sit back and read them and let them teach me. But Klosterman's essays are like the conversations I have with people almost on a daily basis. I am not used to having to sit still and listen to someone's theories on the Real World and how it has changed our lives and the way we see ourselves without being able to respond in kind.
However, that's also the satisfying thing about these essays. Whether you love Coldplay or hate them, whether you think being a Celtic fan is an expression of your Reagan-era conservatism, or if playing the Sims has ever sparked existential thoughts, or it's just about buying new stuff or torturing your simulated alter ego, in other words, whether you agree with Klosterman's expostulations on his subjects or not, you will at least be sparked to think about these things.
By that I mean not just thinking about Saved by the Bell, or Lloyd Dobler or the Real World.
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Most recent customer reviews
3.0 out of 5 stars Thought provoking collection of essays on pop-culture ( 3.5 *)
For his second book Sex, Drugs and Cocoa puffs: A Low Culture Manifesto, Klosterman put together what is basically a collection of pop-culture based short essays in which he... Read more
Published 24 months ago by Tommy Skylar
5.0 out of 5 stars One of my most favourite books
I highly recommend this book as required reading on pop culture. Chuck Klosterman is an amazing writer and the book is absolutely hilarious!
Published on June 16 2012 by HShea
1.0 out of 5 stars Arrogant and pointless.
This book is awful. Its an uninteresting, uninspired man's reflections on the state of modern culture cast through his obsession with reality t.v. and 'the sims'. Read more
Published on Jan. 3 2012 by CTanner
1.0 out of 5 stars Wow whats with all the high ratings
This book is crap.
This guy writes about every thing like he is an expert, but he is just a dork.
He has bad idea, that he talks about like it is truth. Read more
Published on Jan. 31 2008 by reader
3.0 out of 5 stars uhhh
well this book was pretty good, but a lot of the time i had some trouble relating to it because i'm a gen y-er not x, so i didn't grow up with those cultural refrences i guess. Read more
Published on June 20 2007 by elfdart
5.0 out of 5 stars great reading!
It is rare that a book actually makes me laugh out loud. This one did. Intelligent, interesting and downright funny, this book is an important part of my collection.
Published on Dec 29 2005 by Emily
2.0 out of 5 stars Meh
It was impossible to read these essays and not imagine that they were typed as spouted, realtime, by a smart, overcaffeinated english major sitting on a couch in a dormitory. Read more
Published on July 12 2004
5.0 out of 5 stars Incredible
Klosterman's collection of essays never failed to be anything less than humorous, insightful, and thought-provoking. Read more
Published on June 30 2004
3.0 out of 5 stars Elvis Lives...a tribute show
Chuck Klosterman has obviously read plenty of Jay McInerney and Bret Easton Ellis. He seems to be trying to write the next BRIGHT LIGHTS, BIG CITY. Read more
Published on May 24 2004
5.0 out of 5 stars Lots of laughs from sex and drugs
This book is an excellent read. Chuck manages to say the things we've only before thought with humor and insight. Read more
Published on May 20 2004
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