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Killing Yourself to Live: 85% of a True Story
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Killing Yourself to Live: 85% of a True Story

3.84 of 5 stars 3.84  ·  rating details  ·  20,213 ratings  ·  972 reviews
Building on the national bestselling success of Sex, Drugs, and Cocoa Puffs, preeminent pop culture writer Chuck Klosterman unleashes his best book yet—the story of his cross-country tour of sites where rock stars have died and his search for love, excitement, and the meaning of death.

For 6,557 miles, Chuck Klosterman thought about dying. He drove a rental car fr
Paperback, 272 pages
Published June 13th 2006 by Scribner (first published 2005)
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Best Non Fiction About Music
22nd out of 776 books — 651 voters
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Community Reviews

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Mike Lindgren
As a longtime admirer of Chuck Klosterman’s writing on pop music and culture, it pains me to report that his latest book, Killing Yourself to Live: 85% of a True Story, is a dismal, shoddy piece of work. The premise is promising: Klosterman sets out on a cross-country road trip to visit all of the sites of rock ’n’ roll’s long, rich history of death. It seems a brilliant idea — Klosterman’s combination of irreverence and curiosity make him the perfect candidate to unseat the holy-pilgrimage seri ...more
AJ Griffin
Jul 03, 2007 AJ Griffin rated it 5 of 5 stars
Recommends it for: anyone that just doesn't "get" me, really. And dudes who dig Kiss
...and Mr. Klosterman and I officially fall in love. If you're going to date me, you should read this book. If you want to learn how to smoke marijuana resin using parts of your car, you should read this. Don't read this book if you have epilepsy.
The first thing I'd like to say is that this is not a book about travelling around the country and commenting on the deathsites of famous rock and roll legends. This is a book about the loneliness, depression, and relationship issues of Chuck Klosterman, carefully woven into some sort of hip road journal.

Those expecting witty commentaries on the minutiae of our pop culture lives beware: this is terribly saddenning introspection, not comedy.

This is the kind of novel that's reading can only be fol
William Thomas
When judging Klosterman's work, what you're really doing is judging Klosterman. And yes, I say judging on purpose. Not criticizing. Because that would call for an in-depth assessment of a valuable work instead of a moral appraisal of the man behind the book. And I am judging him harshly in this book.

What was recommended to me as a great "road trip book" soon seemed like a chore, drudging through all of his pop culture references and insipid bullshit about his own life history. Like climbing up
Bret Easton Ellis on Chuck Klosterman: 'I can't think of a more sheerly likeable writer...big-hearted ....optimistic and amiable'.

Not the same Chuck I met on this dead rock star ridden road trip.

In the beginning there was Chuck and his admirable road soundtrack - Drive-By-Trucker's Southern Rock Opera and Bowie's Hunky Dory. YEP, we got along fine. The writing was energetic and genuinely funny.

Then the incessant pop-culture references, clever to be clever quips and the navel gazing.

Partway t
I wanted this book to be a Sarah Vowell's "Assassination Vacation"-style account of the US history of rock n roll deaths as narrated by the typically witty Chuck Klosterman. That seemed like that's what this book was going to be. BUT IT WAS NOT.

RNR history occupies maybe 2% of this book. 3% = talking about how great he thinks Radiohead is, 3% = talking about how great he thinks KISS is, 10% = talking about writing about music for a living and how much he hates the idea of this roadtrip, 30% = b
Alex V.
I got a comment on an article once that said "Fuck Chuck Klostermand and his bullshit intellectualism, Cook is the new crown prince of music journalism" and who am I to disagree with SeductiveBarry's astute assessment? Ever since then, though, I've had a weird rivalry with Chuck Klosterman that, much like the romances exacted and protracted in this book, is completely one sided with myself as the hopeless loser, so outclassed that my opponent is likely unaware there is even a contest going on.

Abe Brennan
Why do we care about Chuck Klosterman? There is nothing truly remarkable about his life. I disagree with 97 percent of what he has to say about music. The way he holds his political cards close to his chest makes me suspicious. And yet, once I start one of his books, I can’t put it down. Killing Yourself to Live is no exception. It takes us on a drug-fueled odyssey across the United States with stops at famous rock and roll death sites (the seedy hotel where Sid Vicious did himself in; the burnt ...more
Katherine Furman
Chuck Klosterman is an engaging writer--easy to understand, explicit, and simplistic. But he's also a pretentious rock critic who basically threw together a book from the a lackluster journal that was published solely on the coattails of the success of his earlier book, Sex, Drugs, and Cocoa Puffs.
The premise of is that Chuck is going to travel to famous sites across America where rock 'n roll related deaths occurred: the Great White club fire, the crossroads where Duane Allman died on his moto
Klosterman has a voice like no other. I've never read a book that made me feel so intellectually stimulated. I instantly wanted to tell everyone I knew to read this book so that we could have intellectual conversations about life, death, love. The book is supposed to be about Chuck's journey to find out what makes a rock star a legend when they die early. Not much of the book is dedicated to this topic. It's more of the back-story of the book, not necessarily the thesis of it. There were times w ...more
Aug 25, 2009 Lacey rated it 4 of 5 stars
Recommends it for: Anyone!
Recommended to Lacey by: Michael Putlack
Shelves: own
If my enjoyment of a book can be measured in reading speed, this is one of the most enjoyable books I've read in a long time. I simply couldn't put it down.

Now, I may be biased. I think Chuck Klosterman is totally likeable because I think, more than most people I read, he thinks like I think. And I think a lot of people have this private thought when they're reading him. Here is this nerdy guy who throws around pop culture references like sprinkles on the cupcake of his own self-deprecating over
As I wrote in my review of Sex, Drugs, and Cocoa Puffs, Klosterman is the poster child for postmodern American writers. His knowledge and usage of pop culture in his writing should resonate with me. Unfortunately, he makes a lot of general statements as if they are fact rather than opinion, and many of his allusions are too obscure, as if the more obscure the reference, the smarter he seems. Unlike Sex, Drugs, and Cocoa Puffs which was a collection of unrelated essays, Killing Yourself to Live i ...more
Morgue Anne
I am going to start this review by saying that Chuck's friend was right. He shouldn't have published this book. I picked it up (or, rather, was given) thinking that it would be an exploration of sites where dead rockers perished. Growing up in Seattle, I was bred with an intense love of Kurt Cobain. Growing up goth, I have an intense love of death. So this book would have been a LOT better in my mind if it had either a) Actually talked more about dead rock stars or b) Been a little clearer that ...more
There's really nothing I could say about this book that would make it sound appealing to anyone other than thirtysomething music nerds. Klosterman – on assignment from Spin magazine – travels cross-country visiting some of music most infamous death sites. In the course of his travels he ruminates on life, love, and KISS. Klosterman's takes on pop culture are unfailingly funny, usually right on the mark, and more often than not reflect things I wish I had said myself. The whole book was like catn ...more
Sage Bartow
Killing Yourself to Live was a very enjoyable quick read, it's a nice book to read on a Sunday afternoon when you just want to relax at home with a cup of coffee or tea, or when you're on an airplane or train. This is the kind of book that you read when you have nothing else to do and you want to be entertained. Ultimately though, your personal enjoyment of the book will be dictated by whether or not you feel like you would want to be friends with Chuck Klosterman-- because the book is saturated ...more
Anna Bond
Once again, Chuck Klosterman reveals himself to be a boring, self-centered paragon of bad taste with horrible ideas about the relations between the sexes. Why do I keep reading him?

The only really interesting chapter revolves around the Great White concert fire, revealing the poignancy of the men who lost friends and brothers at the show. I just wish that he would go as far as he thinks he's going into genuine critique of cultural elitism and how callously it allows us to treat each other. Many
Chuck Klosterman.....not sure how to describe this. He's. He's a stream of consciousness writer which can be hit or miss with me. For example, I hate Charles Bukowski, but I tend to like Henry Miller. I think Chuck Klosterman is snarkier and much funnier than the former and as interesting as the latter. It's hard for me to credit stream of consciousness writers with much as they pride themselves on writing off the top of their heads. They're like buying a square mile of ocean from a chef and agr ...more
Matt Evans
I really like Klosterman's writing, but this made me hate the man. The ending is fascile and lazy. Read "Sex, Drugs and Cocoa Puffs" instead. For a better description of what is to hate about this book that serves also as a cautionary tale for would-be writers about what an audience most definitely ain't interested in reading about, read "Mike's" review here (he gives the book a star):

Mike rated it: 12/05/07
bookshelves: nonfiction
Read in April, 2005

As a longtime admirer of Chuck Klosterman’s wr
Dec 08, 2008 Alysemac rated it 3 of 5 stars
Recommends it for: people who had a 'Led Zeppelin phase'
Recommended to Alysemac by: The Dude
I don't know what all the fuss is about...He's a good writer, entertaining, and even those people who absolute hated this work admit they couldn't put it down.

Ya, it's self-centered, nihilistic, and one-sided. Yes, he has horrendous taste in music. The writing is unconventional train-of-thought banter, sometimes rambling, and occasionally difficult to follow. Agreed.

For making his living as a music writer, he really does endorse some God-awful bands. But honestly, do you know anyone that can te
I found this book to be somewhat self involved and irrelevant. If someone paid me exorbitant amounts of money to travel around visiting the sites of rockstars' deaths, I could probably produce something at least as amusing as this.

Chuck Klosterman is one of those audiophile dorks, for whom every single minute aspect of life relates back to some obscure alternative song. Also...I hate Kiss and AC/DC, so reading a five page diatribe about how each of his past girlfriends relates to a specific Kis
In this round, Chuck Klosterman expands a journal article into a book narrative of his cross-country trip to seek out the death sites of multiple rock stars. Unsurprisingly, he focuses most of the narrative in the Midwest, from where he hails. Also, unsurprisingly, he delivers some memorable one-liners and anecdotes mixed in with many throw-away references to KISS, Fleetwood Mac, and pop culture generally.

The most refreshing aspect of Klosterman is his unapologetic focus on pop culture and rock
I love how full of shit this guy is.

For all of the people who hated this book because they thought Klosterman has 'terrible taste in music' I think they might have skimmed over this one part:

So many of the rock concerts I've attended have been filled with people who were there only to be there, who just wanted to be seen by other people who were there only to be there... ... Half the people who attend concerts only go so that they can tell other people that (a) certain shows were amazing, and (b
Chuck Klosterman is like my guilty pleasure. He took a story he was writing for a magazine article and stretched it out into a 270 page book! I think I like him because he writes; how my mind thing reminds him of something else, which leads him to something else and next thing you know he's off talking about something entirely different but relates it all together. The overall plot is O.K....but that's not really the point. I have a few favorite parts... One of them being how "Kid A ...more
This review has been hidden because it contains spoilers. To view it, click here.
Let me start by saying I generally like my job. Sure, there are days where I show up and can't wait to go home, but in general, it's alright. That being said. I work in a cubicle for a big corporation in Austin, TX. I _am_ what the movie Office Space is about. When that movie first started to gain cult status, every fucking person I worked with would say "Oh, man, that movie is about me." Really? Really? You just quit going to work one day? And then you asked out waitress? And then you stole hun ...more
i realized very early on in this book that i don't like chuck klosterman very much and that i did not need to read about his relationships with hot babes, his search for hot babes, or about the hot babe he was drunk with who dangerously climbed upon a roof top, while he sat there and thought about how weird and exciting it would be if she plummeted to her death, all the while hoping he was going to "get lucky." grrrrr.

also, i don't trust a music writer who, though my age, has never ever bought a
Stressed Out Student
This being my first Chuck Klosterman read, I didn't know what to expect. I'd heard that Drugs, Sex, and Cocoa Puffs was good, but this was cheaper at the bookstore I went to.

I really like his writing style. He's such a pop culture nerd and he's oh so human. He's a borderline neurotic, based on his writings, and so easy to relate to in many ways. It's enjoyable even if you have no idea who 90% of the rock stars are that he references. I'd imagine getting the references would make it all the more
Wow, as a compulsive consumer of pop culture (and regurgitator of trivia), I wanted so badly to like this book (and did, for very brief moments). However, Klosterman is so vile and obnoxious in his shallow, lazy brand of self-mythologizing I almost couldn't stand it. Nevermind the fact that there was no thesis to this book, the sin I could not forgive was how self-servingly and uninterestingly he mined each and every one of his past relationships (or casual lays) for book fodder. Throughout this ...more
If you want to learn about dead musicians and how they died, look elsewhere. 1/3 Into this book and I still haven't learned a thing. The title of this book should be My Boring Life - it is all irrelevant rambles on the author's friends, relationships, drug use, and work. I decided to pull the plug during a part in the book where he says, "I wonder how long it would take someone to find me if I died on top of this hill and who would care. Tommy would call Billy who would call Timmy would call Suz ...more
This is the book that got me hooked on Chuck Klosterman. However, none of his other books could compare to this one in my opinion. As soon as I finished this book I went right back to the beginning and read it all over again! So interesting and well written.
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Charles John "Chuck" Klosterman is an American pop-culture journalist, critic, humorist, and essayist. He was raised on a farm near Wyndmere, North Dakota and graduated from the University of North Dakota in 1994. After college he was a journalist in Fargo, North Dakota and later an arts critic for the Akron Beacon Journal in Akron, Ohio, before moving to New York City in 2002.

More about Chuck Klosterman...
Sex, Drugs, and Cocoa Puffs: A Low Culture Manifesto Chuck Klosterman IV: A Decade of Curious People and Dangerous Ideas Eating the Dinosaur Fargo Rock City: A Heavy Metal Odyssey in Rural North Dakota Downtown Owl

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“Art and love are the same thing: It’s the process of seeing yourself in things that are not you.” 2994 likes
“We all have the potential to fall in love a thousand times in our lifetime. It's easy. The first girl I ever loved was someone I knew in sixth grade. Her name was Missy; we talked about horses. The last girl I love will be someone I haven't even met yet, probably. They all count. But there are certain people you love who do something else; they define how you classify what love is supposed to feel like. These are the most important people in your life, and you’ll meet maybe four or five of these people over the span of 80 years. But there’s still one more tier to all this; there is always one person you love who becomes that definition. It usually happens retrospectively, but it happens eventually. This is the person who unknowingly sets the template for what you will always love about other people, even if some of these loveable qualities are self-destructive and unreasonable. The person who defines your understanding of love is not inherently different than anyone else, and they’re often just the person you happen to meet the first time you really, really, want to love someone. But that person still wins. They win, and you lose. Because for the rest of your life, they will control how you feel about everyone else.” 956 likes
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