Top positive review
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Worth a Look!
on 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.
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.