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Chuck Klosterman IV: A Decade of Curious People and Dangerous Ideas Paperback – Jul 3 2007
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From Publishers Weekly
Fans of Klosterman's Ritalin-paced pop culture criticism (Sex, Drugs, and Cocoa Puffs) will eagerly devour this collection of previously published essays. Whether investigating Latino fans of British pop icon Morrissey, interviewing female tribute bands like Lez Zeppelin and AC/DShe or eating nothing but Chicken McNuggets for a week, Klosterman is always entertaining and often insightful. But other than a sympathetic profile of Billy Joel, Klosterman rarely strays from his favorite topics: heavy metal music, television, sports and sex. Perhaps this career overview is his way of recycling old themes into some kind of new "defining endeavor," as he describes the title inspired by Led Zeppelin IV (as it is unofficially called). This would make perfect sense given his work so far: Fargo Rock City was an original and confident debut (like Led Zeppelin I); his newest book definitely has kick, but overall it's a mixed bag of collected essays—strong and not-so-strong performances—its parts are greater than the whole. (Sept.)
Copyright © Reed Business Information, a division of Reed Elsevier Inc. All rights reserved.
Pop-culture-enthusiast Klosterman anthologizes his previously published rock interviews, opinion pieces, and a short story to create an entertaining albeit head-scratching follow-up to Killing Yourself to Live (2005). Rock fans will appreciate the ironies in Klosterman's interviews as he plays the interloper invited to the party who sits back and makes fun. Caustic throughout while alternating between disclosures oddly unrevealing and quasi sympathetic, Klosterman observes, "Britney Spears is the most famous person I've ever interviewed. She was also the weirdest." Bono picks Klosterman up in an insanely expensive car, then helps injured kids in a hospital only to be taken aback when he plays the new, still unreleased U2 album and the kids sing along--not taken aback in humility but in capitalist questioning of how the album leaked. Contradictions and silliness best exemplify this collection. Klosterman's writing is funny and smart, if not so new or earth shattering, and that, after all, is pop culture. Mark Eleveld
Copyright © American Library Association. All rights reserved
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Top Customer Reviews
Although Klosterman can write up a storm, I just skipped over pretty much every metal/hair band article in it. It's true that I don't like that sort of music (let's just put it this way, my fave band in 2009 is the Raveonettes) but I just find these characters uninteresting as well as that sort of rock culture. I shouldn't as David Lee Roth is a cartoon character as are the members of KISS but I just flipped past all those articles and went straight to the stuff on athletes or Britney.
Even though you obviously can state Britney is as musically irrelevant as metal bands are at least she's loopily entertaining as an essay subject.
I think with K-IV there is plenty for anyone to like, it's just not a solid cover-to-cover read. Now, if he came out with a book exclusively on sports or on mainstream pop culture or even obscure-o alt scene of North Dakota and Minnesota, I'd be there. I could just do without the metal and other ultra boring sounds of the '90s and '00s.
Divided in three parts, the book's "Things That are True" covers a broad range of celebrity culture with an equal amount of aplomb. Klosterman marvels at how Britney Spears actually comes off as a self-invented star with an amazing ability to "act" oblivious about her role and effect on popular culture, while U2 and Bono may be the rarest example of a band that actually mean everything they say. A bizarre encounter with Val Kilmer, in which the actor states that he honestly believes he experiences more as an actor than real people do (i.e. playing a drug addict is closer to the actual experience than really being a drug addict!) leaves Klosterman with an uneasy impression.
For "The Amazing McNugget Diet," an article in The Forum, Klosterman ate nothing but Chicken McNuggets for seven days in 1996. The results? Nothing dramatic; he gains one pound and his blood pressure and cholesterol actually goes down. He calls upon this venture for 2004's "McDiculous," a critique of Morgan Spurlock's film, Super Size Me, which Klosterman argues is symptomatic of America's whining and lack of accountability.Read more ›
It's an okay read, but I found myself skimming certain parts and skipping others.
You can read this in any order you like, it's just magazine articles.
Buy it used
Most Helpful Customer Reviews on Amazon.com (beta)
"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.
I mentioned Klosterman's compassion because it's an attribute not normally associated with critics. But it gives us a more rounded portrait of his subjects, which this time include Wilco, Robert Plant, Metallica, U2, the White Stripes, and Britney Spears, to name just a small sample. He can see clearly and unsparingly while taking into account unavoidable human frailties. This got him into trouble with his infamous profile of Billy Joel (included here), which was meant by Chuck to be a celebration of his career, but was interpreted by Joel and other as a too-candid, embarassing look at an artist's mid-life crisis.
My favorite essay in this book is "Cultural Betrayal", which should be recognized as a brilliant analysis of the current culture wars in America. His great central insight: in a democracy "don't get pissed off over the fact that the way you feel about culture isn't some kind of universal consensus. Because if you do, you will end up feeling betrayed. And it will be your own fault. You will feel bad, and you will deserve it." If everyone would take this advice, the bitterness of our national culture arguements would be considerably lessened and we could actually begin to talk to each other again. Klosterman's essays about snobbishly reviled pop culture actually have a distant echo of similar essays by the patron saint of common-sense, George Orwell. It's not an entirely ridiculous comparison, if you will actually take the time to read this witty, insightful collection.
You either like this type of writing or you don't. Klosterman's work typically applies to a very specific segment of the population, but to that segment his writing really connects.
I especially enjoyed the essay on identifying your Nemesis and your Archenemy, and the differences between the two, for I too have a Nemesis - and yes we are friends, yes we sit down and have a drink together every so often, and yes we have both punched each other in the face at one point or another in anger.
If you want to read a book where you find yourself laughing out loud while reading it on the subway, pick it up.
I have read all of Klosterman's other books and i really didn't think he (or anyone else, for that matter) could write anything more entertaining than Sex, Drugs, & Cocoa Puffs. And my first impression of Chuck Klosterman IV is that it is just that. The first part is a great collection of essays/articles with new (self-critisizing) introductions. The second is a collection of mostly articles from Esquire with hypothetical introductions that remind me of the SD&CP segways. And the final section, a fictional story slighty resembling his life.
Overall, i think it's a great read. Especially if you have read his other books (as he does make refrence to them) and are already familiar with his style of writing (the footnotes are running rampant, as usual)
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