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5 of 5 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Worth a Look!
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...
Published on July 16 2005 by Derrick Hattem

versus
3.0 out of 5 stars Tasy Cereal....but with an aftertaste
"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...
Published on July 10 2004 by Westley


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5 of 5 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Worth a Look!, July 16 2005
By 
Derrick Hattem (Grass Valley, CA) - See all my reviews
This review is from: Sex, Drugs, and Cocoa Puffs: A Low Culture Manifesto (Paperback)
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.
Fortunately, the whole book moves along at a very quick pace, and none of these minor flaws in the writing ever stick around long enough to get under our skin. The essays are the perfect length to digest in a free moment, whether it be waiting to head out to a movie, relaxing before turning out the lights at bedtime, or spending some quality time alone in the bathroom. It's like having access at any time to the mysterious guy across the hall in your college dorm who was in the middle of his seventh year and still hadn't picked a major yet, but could walk into any conversation in the hallway and raise the socio-intellectual bar two or three notches with his wisdom. And since it's just a book, you don't have to worry about him opening the door to your room at three in the morning looking for something to snack on.
It takes the right kind of person to appreciate what Klosterman has assembled here. Those born before 1960 or after 1980 might recognize the myriad cultural references, but they won't have grown up ingrained into their minds as part of the formative process. Those people will smile and say, "that's nice, but I just don't see the big deal here." To really appreciate the book, you have to be from the part of society that, as Klosterman says, "has more media than intellect." If you're one of the people that believe that all of life's mysteries are answered in the movies, and that there's a perfect song out there for every single moment in your life, this is a book you have to read. Never again will you have those lingering feelings that a life spent entertaining oneself has been a life misspent. But decide for yourself; pick up a copy! Another book I need to recommend - very much on my mind since I purchased a "used" copy off Amazon is "The Losers' Club: Complete Restored Edition" by Richard Perez, an odd, lively little novel I can't stop thinking about.
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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
This review is from: Sex, Drugs, and Cocoa Puffs: A Low Culture Manifesto (Paperback)
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 (Stuck in my head) - See all my reviews
This review is from: Sex, Drugs, and Cocoa Puffs: A Low Culture Manifesto (Paperback)
"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 "incorporatedindelaware" (Los Angeles, CA, United States) - See all my reviews
(REAL NAME)   
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. I mean thinking about whether in this day and age we can ever be satisfied with a relationship; whether we live our lives in a self-absorbed, self-examining, exhibitionist way as a result of reality shows; and whether people really do drift in and out of our lives without our really noticing, and what that says about our own self-centeredness.
It's an interesting book and the only thing I could wish is that it also came with one dinner with the author so that you could reply to him and give commentary on the things he has written.
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5.0 out of 5 stars A Keeper Manifesto for the uber curious or cool people., April 16 2004
By 
Lee Haskell (CHARLESTON, SC United States) - See all my reviews
(or think they are)
This may be a non-sequitur but Chuck's book jacket picture looks like Corey Feldman with blond highlights. (sorry, I just had to get that off my chest) An observation that's less off the wall than Chuck's fresh and crisp writing. He is also clever, funny, twisted, and articulate. His witty essays are full of non-sequiturs but skillfully manages to segue them all in a way that only this sharp Author can.
Chuck's vocabulary is to die for. He drops tongue-twisters such as "iconoclast" like I would use the word "like". I had my dictionary handy for his use of the words "byzantine" and "zeitgeist".
Unless you have been living isolated in a cave for these last 30 years, your feelings and passions will be affected by some if not all of his chapters. Each of these droll chapters are stand alone essay topics that are as various as the different channels on cable TV. I also enjoyed it when he shed light on some secrets of the famous and infamous that were either very juicy or just plain weird. Either way, very interesting.
His wickedly keen observations range from The Sims phenomena (the most detailed and passionate essay I've ever read about a computer game) to why "Sports reporters hate sports". He not only takes you behind the scenes but into the minds of various professionals and personas in an uncannily honest and original voice. Before I read this book, I knew nothing about The Sims. I had no idea why my nephew wanted me to buy him this game for his birthday. Now I think I know too much. I finished the chapter with thoughts of God, existence and materialism swimming in my head. (The chapter began with a topic on a game for kids!)
You begin each essay thinking Chuck will lead you to one general area, next thing you know this rascal has you questioning the odds on the roll of a dice. The funny thing is, you actually understand his odds predictions. He leaves you doubting everything you learned in that dreaded statistics course you took in College.
Within each chapter, Chuck will touch upon something that you can't wait to share with someone you know because you know they will agree with Chuck's discourse on the movie Vanilla Sky or even his slight mention of the band sigur rós. (Co-incidently, he does not mention the movie and the band in any related way or even in the same chapter but my favorite sigur rós song is on the Vanilla Sky soundtrack. That's a killer soundtrack by the way.)
But most of all, I just got the sense that he did not want you to blindly accept the printed word whether those words were on a napkin, a newpaper or the Bible. He doesn't care what you believe or don't believe, as long as that belief is informed and can survive under his under-the-microscope-examinations.
He delivers all this in an easy to enjoy and digest, non heavy-handed, tongue-in-cheek way with a wink. But most of all, I just know that if he gets laid because of this book, he'll think this a success.
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3.0 out of 5 stars A Fun Read, Jan. 27 2004
By 
R. W. Rasband (Heber City, UT) - See all my reviews
(REAL NAME)   
"When I get up in the morning nothing seems to make sense. At night everything has meaning and seems to be connected. That's why I hate to go to sleep." That's how Chuck Klosterman introduces his series of essays about popular culture, "Sex, Drugs and Cocoa Puffs." He has a real knack of teasing profound meanings out of the seeming trash of pop culture. And unlike a lot of other critics who start out writing about rock, he's not trying to prove he's in the Red Guards. He's a philosophical and temperamental moderate. In fact, his analysis of the 1980's rivalry between the Boston Celtics and the L.A. Lakers says that it was a ideological competition between right-wing individualism (Celtics) and corporate liberalism (Lakers); and he sheepishly confesses he's a Celtics man.
He also writes about John Cusack's irresistable attraction for the women of his generation (and how we love the image of romance, not the real thing.) He proclaims Billy Joel's greatness in spite of Joel's lack of "coolness." He trashes soccer in a very satisfying way for those of us who hate it. He analyzes the strange mythic appeal of "Saved By The Bell"; it's the stupid popular kid's dream of what life should be like. He theorizes that the doom and gloom of "The Empire Strikes Back" could have influenced the famous pessimism of the entire so-called Generation X. On these many subjects Klosterman isn't quite as funny as Kevin Smith or Quentin Tarantino, but he's more articulate. There's much fun to be had in this book.
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4.0 out of 5 stars Frequently Hilarious Essays on Pop Culture, Jan. 22 2004
By 
A. Ross (Washington, DC) - See all my reviews
In the footsteps of Klosterman's Midwestern memoir/history of hair metal (Fargo Rock City) comes this collection of eighteen essays bearing the asterixed subtitle "A Low Culture Manifesto". The subtitle itself speaks volumes about the author's general style:a hyper-ironically witty phrase that displays a certain level of erudition along with a wink-wink, nudge-nudge. Klosterman is almost exactly my age, which means that our broad exposure pop culture exposure has been nearly identical, and while I greatly enjoyed the majority of the essays, there's a tension in his writing between wanting to make fun of low culture, and wanting to treat it seriously. It's the same tension (and flaw) of Fargo Rock City-he's writing about his guilty pleasures, but can't quite commit to the guilt or the pleasure. All that aside, I've probably recommended this book to more friends of mine than any other in recent months.
If you browse it in the store be aware that the first essay (about how John Cusak, and emo songsmiths like Coldplay have made the concept of love very tricky for Gen Xers-or at least middle-class white ones), is far and away the best in the book. Which is not to say there isn't a lot of other great stuff. The second essay, about the computer game The Sims, is hugely funny (if only slightly insightful) and the fifth (which first ran in The New York Times Magazine) is an engaging account of a weekend spent on the road with a Guns N' Roses cover band. The sixth is also quite strong, being a comparison of Pamela Anderson with Marilyn Monroe that seeks to explain how the role of celebrity has changed over the half-century between them. His essay on internet porn is brief, funny, and moderately thoughtful. Essay ten, on children's breakfast cereals is almost entirely tongue in cheek, and is hilarious. His thirteenth essay wins the prize for best title ("The Awe-Inspired Beauty of Tom Cruise's Shattered, Troll-like Face"), and is a mostly enjoyable muddle of thoughts about contemporary film. After this is a rather wandering (but good) piece on the popularity of country music. Essays sixteen and seventeen are all about the media. The first is a sort of general purpose "here's the truth about the media from an insider" piece, and the second is a very keen report on music critic's conference. Closing things out is a critique of the wildly popular "Left Behind" series. I would recommend all of these to various of my friends.
However, a third of the book isn't so good.. The third essay is about MTV's The Real World series, and fails to make any original points about the reality genre. The fourth is a tortured attempt to explain why Billy Joel is cool, and fails on all levels. The seventh entry is a really weak anti-soccer piece that is a total failure except for a portion where he details his job as a youth baseball coach and subsequent firing. The next essay, about the Lakers/Celtics rivalry of the '80s is equally muddled, and incoherent (probably way more so to those who weren't paying attention to the NBA in the '80s). Essay eleven is about the seminal TV show Saved By the Bell, which I've never watched, so that one went right over my head. This is followed by a rather weak essay attempting to tie Gen X malaise to The Empire Strikes Back.
Klosterman's writing style is kind of love it or hate it (I love it). He's too clever and sarcastic by half, and doesn't mind showing it off, which can be kind of refreshing. He's also one of the best writers I've encountered when it comes to profanity-he uses it a lot and quite naturally, which helps to draw you into his bizarre little world. He's also a hilarious footnoter, for example, his essay on Internet porn starts: "When exactly did every housewife in America become a whore?" with the footnote reading "Except of course, my mom." He's also a very prolific digressor, which may infuriate those who want writers to adhere to their one main point, but I rather enjoy the little side trips. I found the 2/3 of the essays that I liked so engaging that I'm willing to let the other 1/3 slide-this time.
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3.0 out of 5 stars Started out TERRIFIC, but I steadily lost interest..., Nov. 19 2003
By A Customer
Glad this was a collection of essays, rather than a novel. I don't think I would have been able to make it through a novel of this type of writing. Also made it easy to read while on the pot.
The essays start out with brilliance (especially the first two, about romance and The Sims, respectively), but my interest in them fizzled out. There are a few bright points here and there in the remaining essays (the essay about serial killers and our fascination with them is dead on). There is no doubt Klosterman is an adept writer, can pinpoint emotions, and locate intermittently with a witty finger the pulse of certain social issues (like what the hell tribute bands are all about and WHY). But the tone in which he does so is sometimes reminiscent of...how shall I put it? A smart-ass thirty-year-old who thinks he is very clever with his observations, and justifies it by saying he is a Gen X'er and entitled to his lofty superiority. In other words, if you read Klosterman, you're just the type of person he'd look down on.
In trying to deconstruct pop culture, Klosterman sometimes comes across as believing himself an expert about everything American. He also has no qualms about insulting outright the very audience reading his book. Even though he jokes in the beginning that he writes these things late at night in a state of near-delirium, you still get the impression he thinks he is, as he might put it, the "uber-mensch".
Some of the essays are so specialized that I had absolutely no interest in reading them, and skipped right over them as I realized the entire essay was absorbed in deconstructing, say, basketball heroes. So I can't really say I enjoyed the entire book - some of it was unintelligible to me; hence, 3 stars (IMHO).
True, Klosterman has been saturated with pop culture through his research and work with major magazines, but most of his off-the-cuff opinions are just that -- opinions and rantings rather than hard facts supported by any type of references, so keep in mind that you're reading personal essays, rather than research articles.
Perhaps I was tainted, since I had just finished reading half of Michael Moore's "Stupid White Men," and the entire of Jon Krakauer's "Under the Banner of Heaven," so one more book illustrating the hopeless stupidity of the human race may have caused me unfair irritation.
Strong essays for the most part, well written, but I lost interest and read them very patchily throughout the last half of the book because the tone grated on my nerves.
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4.0 out of 5 stars Sex, "Drums" & Rock N' Roll, Nov. 12 2003
By 
As a big fan of Chuck's first book "Fargo Rock City", I was a little let down by his newest essay book. Some of the reviewers seem to be amazed by Chuck's memory of obscure trivia but if you think about it everyone can remember a certain song and who sang it, an obscure sports player and his or her claim to fame, or what type of engine came stock in a 1972 Corvette. All Chuck did was think of something obscure, contemplate it for a few minutes, went on the internet to get the rest of the information and to make sure he was correct and then wrote a short essay. I'm not downing Chuck for this or his book but I'm not going to give him high praise either. There were some interesting essays and then there were a few "soggy" ones. More importantly, was some of the essays that I liked or found interesting were ones I actually disagreed with. But as with music or art, if something makes you think and have a discussion with your friends or family than it should be given its' kudos. Thus, I give 3.5 stars. There were also some topics in this book that were brought up in his first book.
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5.0 out of 5 stars One of the year's best..., Oct. 16 2003
By 
Alex Nichols, author of Shadow Rock (San Francisco, CA United States) - See all my reviews
Chuck Klosterman's "Sex, Drugs, and Cocoa Puffs" is the 27th book I've read this year, and only Jonathan Franzen's "The Corrections" and Alison Burnett's "Christopher" rank higher in my list of delightful, insightful, brilliant books. I ask two things of books-- that they force me to stop everything I'm doing to finish them, and that they have something new about life to tell me. I am often disappointed on both counts.
"Sex, Drugs, and Cocoa Puffs" is full of brilliant insights; the kind that you wish you had thought of first. The essays manage to be both focused and digressive at the same time, a trait that only the best writers can pull off. Klosterman is witty, bitter, and romantic at the same time, kind of like his alter ego, Woody Allen. (Or so he says in the first essay. I think he looks more like a Scandanavian Mike Mills.)
My 3 favorite essays in this collection are the first, where Klosterman presents us with an unavoidable truth: Generation X has been ruined by "fake love"; the second, which offers a brilliant analysis of just how fake(and influential) reality TV is; and the last, which confirms that I am not the only Gen Exer who has given serious thought to the worldview of Tim LaHaye. (That's the "Left Behind" author, for those of you who haven't.)
A great discovery; well worth the hardcover price.
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Sex, Drugs, and Cocoa Puffs: A Low Culture Manifesto
Sex, Drugs, and Cocoa Puffs: A Low Culture Manifesto by Chuck Klosterman (Paperback - July 2 2004)
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