Chris's Reviews > Chuck Klosterman IV: A Decade of Curious People and Dangerous Ideas

Chuck Klosterman IV by Chuck Klosterman
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Nov 16, 10

Read from November 02 to 16, 2010

Excellent stuff. Klosterman collects a decade of interviews, articles on culture, articles on music, and articles on sports that he has written for various media (newspapers, Spin, Esquire, ESPN, etc) into a single book that mostly spans 1995-2005.

Klosterman has this excellent way of both telling a story and making a point, all the while taking the briefest of vignette interludes or side-tracks that are both very poignant and not at all relevant simultaneously. His insight into culture and media are often so simple and obvious that it's something that has to be explained, which he does quite well. Much of the book is footnoted with his current comments on articles, which are usually just as funny and witty as the text itself. He goes into some of the "why" of the articles, but also makes some comments on how things have since turned out after the publish of the article. One example, in his article on Britney Spears circa November 2003:

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Main article: "...Oh, and did I mention that she's pantsless? She's not wearing any pants. This is a hard detail to ignore. This is a hard detail to ignore because the number of men who have seen a pantsless Britney belong to a highly select fraternity: it's Justin Timberlake, her gynecologist, the photographer who's doing this particular photo shoot, and (maybe) the frontman for a fourth-rate rap-metal outfit from Jacksonville, Florida. That's more or less everybody(1)."

1, footnote: "Because I write about popular culture in the present tense, it's not uncommon for things I write to become inaccurate over time. This sentence, however, is a particularly insane example of that phenomenon. At this point, I would be pretty surprised of anyone readin this book has NOT seen Britney Spears' vagina. Modernity!"
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For many of the "Things That May Be True" section, the second one, Klosterman poses these what-would-you-do scenarios that he talks about earlier on: it's not the answer that is interesting, it's how one goes about their thought process to arrive at that answer that tells the most about a person.

The final section is a bit of fiction, somewhat influenced by Klosterman's personal history, that he wrote and has edited down. A friend of mine who recommended this book to me said that she liked this book the best of his, except for this section, which she didn't like or understand. FALSE. This little vignette was great. It has no point, it is not a shorty story in the technical sense, it is just a well-written, witty, articulate, and fascinating little piece of fiction about a few days-in-the-life of a small north-mid-western town many who writes film reviews for a local newspaper, smokes PCP three days a week, enjoys Chinese buffets and Southern-Comfort-and-Mountain-Dew (SoCo-Dew), somehow manages to have a girlfriend, and has one pretty wacked-out thing happen to him while driving his car on an errand for a friend that is also pretty wacked-out.

Good stuff.

Quotes:

-It seems like kids today are more interested in the culture around music than in the music itself

-Yorke's preoccupation with picking words for how they sound (as opposed to what they mean) is part of why Radiohead's cultic following cuts such a wide swath (every album except 2001's Amnesiac has gone platinum): if phrases have no clarity and no hard reality, people can turn them into whatever they need... It's a songwriting style Yorke borrowed from Michael Stipe; not coincidentally, Stipe's REM were the last rock intellectuals taken seriously as Radiohead are taken today.

-My editor found it slightly bizarre that I liked Billy Joel, since he was living under the impression that I sat in a bomb shelter listening to Warrant and snorting cocaine off of a Ouija board.

-And this is the truth to which I refer: culture can't be wrong. That doesn't mean it's always "right," nor does it mean you always have to agree with it. But culture is never wrong. People can be wrong, and movements can be wrong. But culture - as a whole - cannot be wrong. Culture is just there.

-Maybe it would be easier to remain faithful to your spouse if you both assumed you'd get typhoid before turning fifty.

-Machines allow humans the privilege of existential anxiety. Machines provide us with the extra time to worry about the status of our careers, and/or the context of our sexual relationships, and/or what it means to be alive. Unconsciously, we hate technology. We hate the way it replaces visceral experience with self-absorption. And the only way we can reconcile that hatred is by pretending that machines hate us, too.

-I hope I have enough hit points to survive.

-I am both drowsy and awake, the product of combining 80 proof alcohol with enough caffeine and glucose to make a ground sloth break-dance.
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Reading Progress

11/05/2010 page 116
28.0% ""It seems kids today are more interested in the culture around music than the music itself." ~John Shipman"
11/09/2010 page 215
52.0% ""My editor found it slightly bizarre that I liked Billy Joel, since he was living under the impression, that I sat in a bomb shelter listening to Warrant and snorting cocaine off a Ouija board.""
11/15/2010 page 343
82.0% "Machines allow humans the privilege of existential anxiety. Machines provide us with the extra time to worry about the status of our careers, and or the context of our sexual relationships, and/or what it means to be alive."

Comments (showing 1-1 of 1) (1 new)

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message 1: by Shannon (new) - added it

Shannon Great review!! This book hilarious - I shouldn't laugh because it hits on too many truths! Adding it to must-read list!


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