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Fargo Rock City: A Heavy Metal Odyssey in Rural North Dakota
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Fargo Rock City: A Heavy Metal Odyssey in Rural North Dakota

3.79 of 5 stars 3.79  ·  rating details  ·  9,805 ratings  ·  463 reviews
Empirically proving that -- no matter where you are -- kids wanna rock, this is Chuck Klosterman's hilrious memoir of growing up as a shameless metalhead in Wyndmere, North Dakotoa (population: 498). With a voice like Ace Frehley's guitar, Klosterman hacks his way through hair-band history, beginning with that fateful day in 1983 when his older brother brought home Mötley ...more
Paperback, 288 pages
Published May 1st 2002 by Scribner (first published April 28th 2001)
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Best Non Fiction About Music
22nd out of 787 books — 665 voters
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Community Reviews

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Imogen
I get the project, and I support the project. I was absolute4ly in love with Poison in fourth grade, and I still get super semi-ironically excited about a lot of the music he's writing about, in just the ways he describes. But Chuck, did you have to be such a douche?

The section on sexism in 80s glam rock is the most tautological, non-informative series of non-arguments I've ever read, which seems to culminate in the argument 'these bands were sexist, but in capitalism, who cares?' Which is prob
...more
Trin
I have kind of a love/hate relationship with Chuck Klosterman. I’ve read all his books (I left this one till last, because it’s about heavy metal and that’s not a subject I’m desperately interested in) and I think he’s frequently incredibly funny and often very insightful. But man, does he piss me off sometimes. In Fargo Rock City, that occurred when he decided to share his views on female music fans. Apparently, male music fans are more loyal and less likely to get distracted by every shiny n ...more
Carl
There's something about Chuck Klosterman's writing that I literally eat up. I blew through this book in two days, ignoring my job, TV, and my girlfriend in the process. It felt like a vacation from normal book reading because I wasn't studying some socially relevant topic I'd recently deemed important to know, I was reading critical analysis of popular music that I can't help but love and obsess over. CK is perfect for guys like me: the kind of guy that tells himself he's got to read 50 more pag ...more
Hadley
Oh man. I really thought I would love this book, but aside from a few humorous passages, I ended up never wanting to read anything else by Klosterman. Here were my issues with the book: 1. It's not so much about heavy metal as it is about hair metal (or "glam rock" as Klosterman calls it- not sure how appropriate a moniker that is for Poison and the like but whatever) 2. Klosterman has some serious issues with women, and really came off as an asshole on multiple occasions throughout the book. 3. ...more
Kristel
Klosterman declares early on that he wants to confront two of the most egregious accusations hurled at heavy metal: that 1) it is frivolous and disposable (therefore “not art”), and 2) it is offensive and dangerous. He argues that these two sentiments can’t both be true at the same time. Becoming a danger presupposes a potency that contradicts frivolity. It may not be elevating art but heavy metal mattered, particularly to the crop of hormonal teenagers of post-Reagan Middle America.

Every chapte
...more
Nycdreamin
When I picked this book up for $1 at a local thrift shop a few weeks back, I figured that since "Fargo Rock City" author Chuck Klosterman and I grew up a mere 239 miles from each other (Klosterman grew up in Wyndemere, ND and I grew up just a few hours away in Aitkin & Grand Rapids, MN) during the height of the 1980's hard rock/heavy metal explosion, we'd have a bit in common and I'd REALLY enjoy this book. I was wrong. I was only mildly amused and more than somewhat agitated by it.

Not that
...more
Mark
"Fargo Rock City" is Chuck Klosterman's first stab at writing more than an album review in SPIN or a story about Marilyn Manson in the Akron Beacon-Journal. And it shows.

The premise is ambitious, and therefore admirable: An entire book about heavy metal from 1980-1990. Essentially, the hair/glam scene that was taking place in Los Angeles and how it all shaped him as a youngster growing up in rural North Dakota.

It's about 100 pages too long and goes horribly askew when he takes heavy metal out
...more
RandomAnthony
I grew up in Chicago, another urban heavy metal bastion, so I can relate to Mr. Klosterman's love/embarassment/love relationship with Marshall stacks and singers who screech like castratos. Klosterman does a great job of describing how he first discovered metal, what drew him to the music, and why he likes what he likes. Also, he loves TALKING about music, and if you love music, you probably like talking about music almost as much as listening to music. Klosterman gets it. There's a great story ...more
Mary
Sep 21, 2014 Mary rated it 3 of 5 stars
Recommends it for: rock geeks
Recommended to Mary by: the interwebs
Shelves: nonfiction
Much of this book is entertaining -- Klosterman writes about heavy metal with a lot of wit and insight that's fun to read...especially because I'm not a metal fan. If I felt strongly about any of these bands, all his potificating probably would have gotten kind of annoying. Also, he can be hilarious, but can, on the same page, be overly detailed and completely lose the thread.

One of his points is how the metal audience is integral to the experience, and I think he still identifies rather strong
...more
Adam
During unending hours in the back of a conversion van and brief respites on land in Canada I read Chuck Klosterman’s Fargo Rock City. This book was recommended to me by Nate Scheible during a discussion outside of Parish Hall while waiting for a noise show to start and over a few Commodore Perry IPAs. He found out that I was a metal fan of old and recommended that I read it.

The book’s essence is how glam-metal [bands like Mötley Crüe, Poison and Cinderella] gave Chuck an entrance into the wide w
...more
Abraham
Uno de esos libros con los que pude sentir una identificación inmediata desde las primeras páginas. Compartir experiencias con un autor puede ser la mejor manera de entender un libro. Si esto se hace desde la música, mejor aún. Y siendo este libro parcialmente autobiográfico, pues es perfecto.

No solamente se trata de compartir visiones sobre un género normalmente despreciado y desestimado por críticos y fans "serios" del rock (hablo del pop metal ochentero o "hair metal"). La parte de crecer con
...more
Adam Hale
May 27, 2008 Adam Hale rated it 5 of 5 stars
Recommends it for: anyone
If you haven’t read Fargo Rock City by author and rock critic Chuck Klosterman you should go get a copy. It is an interesting tale of a metal head growing up in North Dakota in the 1980’s, a time when heavy metal ruled the world.
I think what made me like it more is that I can somewhat relate to him and what he is saying. He was born and raised in Wyndmere, North Dakota and listened to the radio station out of Fargo. He tackles many of the issues facing metal when it hit the mainstream such as
...more
Corey
Chuck Klosterman and his love for heavy metal. I was sold by the title alone. From the first chapter discussion on the definition of "heavy metal" to Klosterman's closing statements about why Motley Crue will forever hold a special place in his heart, I felt as if I was part of a discussion with the author about the importance, or lack thereof, heavy metal has in rock history. I found myself throwing open my computer to listen to obscure Motorhead songs and to re-watch the November Rain music vi ...more
Jay
Chuck Klosterman is a giant dick. Seriously, if we could ask him right now if he's a huge wang, the answer would be yes. Knowing that going into reading this book made the book slightly more enjoyable. The biggest problems I had with it included: 1. I didn't know enough about the subject to keep all the bands distinguished in my head 2. Klosterman comes off as smarmily sexist in an almost-manufactured way and 3. it really had nothing to do with the title or subtitle. Number 3. he tries to answer ...more
Bo Liles
Aug 03, 2007 Bo Liles rated it 4 of 5 stars
Recommends it for: music lovers
Okay, a warning is in order. If you read this book, you may experience side effects such as a yearning to go to CD Warehoue and buy a Guns-n-Roses album or maybe the entire Ozzy solo discography. Or not. Either way, if you were exposed to rock radio in the 80's and early 90's (or just have watched multiple episodes of Behind the Music on VH1) then you will have many of the songs referenced in this excellent memoir stuck in your head for days, maybe weeks.

I like Klosterman because he's fiercely l
...more
Derek
This was the only book of Klosterman's I had yet to read, and I knew there was a good chance I would love it, since I've thoroughly enjoyed all of his other books. This was the book that launched his career, and Klosterman combines his unique blend of self-effacing biography, unabashed love for pop culture, and keen mind for analytic deconstruction in this book, a love letter to 80s heavy metal. Chuck's knowledge on the subject is, as it usually is, disconcertingly passionate and pathologically ...more
Kurt
Definitely imperfect, although (or because) Klosterman is a consummate debater, remarkably skilled at saying everything all at once and/or nothing at all (which may actually be the same, I'm not sure). Maybe my most scathing criticism is that I'm not sure I'm not more confused now regarding the difference(?) between metal variations. That, and Klosterman is insane, or something is going on that I don't understand, in his general dislike of the more accessible practitioners of speed metal. Metall ...more
Jason Dikes
The best book on music and why we love it that I have ever read. Specific things you will learn: Chuck's theory on why Rush is the greatest Christian rock band of all time; "Shout at the Devil" is the most successful Christian rock album of the 1980s. The difference between Clapton and Van Halen. And you will laugh whilst learning.
michael
Sep 15, 2008 michael rated it 5 of 5 stars
Recommends it for: people who hate metal
As someone who grew up on 1980s hair metal, I can say this with utmost confidence: Fargo Rock City is the best book ever written on the subject.

This book is great to the degree that it is personal, artful and passionate about its subject, just as Elie Faure's treatment of the history of art was personal, artful, passionate, or as Spengler's study of western civilization -- a kind of writing that has long since fallen out of favor with the cultural/intellectual elite, for some odd reason.

And th
...more
Stefan
Whereas Klosterman comes off as a masturbatory intellect obsessed with the minutiae of heavy metal in which no one else really cares about, this book is a redemption for Klosterman. If you've ever heard and felt music speak to your soul, and believe that music is an integral part of your identity, then music's biggest pointdexter is a kindred spirit. Even if you hate all the bands Klosterman writes on, be it Kiss, Motley Crue et al, his passion and dedication to his groupz is like a Staph outbre ...more
Sharon
The author overanalyzes and trashes rock music (oh excuse me Mr. Klosterman, "heavy metal") so much that it's hard to believe he supports it as much as he claims. This book could have been named after any U.S. city, because it's NOT "a heavy metal odyssey in rural North Dakota" as promised. The author shares a few personal stories related to small town life and music, but the majority of the book is essays defining heavy metal (zzzzzz) and separating (based on Klosterman's tastes, opinions and p ...more
Betterthanfiction
Klosterman's books are semi-autobiographical books about his love of rock and roll/metal, his job as a writer with Spin, his childhood in North Dakota and various and sundry famous and infamous bands. Fargo Rock City is, if anything, a manifesto of heavy metal. Essentially Klosterman says "Yes, metal may be loud and obnoxious, violent and often stupid and is often written off as a wholly pointless a genre. But metal does matter simply because it means a lot to some people." This is a point that ...more
Brian
I have the most boringly conventional musical taste. It's so boring and conventional that I used to be one of those annoying pretentious people who said he likes everything "except country," but now that I'm not even residually interested in being cool, I can admit it -- I like country, too. I can happily bop along with whatever's on the radio. And I always could -- I liked generic Top 40 crap in 1984, and 1994, and 2004, and today.

I think this is because I've always subconsciously felt what Ch
...more
Dorie
Ever have that English teacher in school who wants to assign meaning and symbolism to everything even if it's just not there? And you want to ask "how do you know this for certain? did you have lunch with the poet? don't you think all art is open to subjective interpretation or are we only allowed to see your view of this piece? oh right, you do the grading."

Ever been out at a bar and encounter that one very talkative-but-socially-awkward metalhead in the KISS t-shirt who rambles on and on about
...more
Strawfoot
I'm about halfway through this book and I'm not sure I'm gonna make it. I think that when another one comes into the library I'll defect. However, if you love writing about music read it. Especially if you loved heavy metal from the 1980's (you hear me Julie).
Allright, so I should have read the review below mine and read further in this book...This guy is an ahole. Sexist bs comes out about music and women about halfway through the book and I pretty much want to sock him. Don't read this crap.
Emily Taing
Should've have been zero stars. I have no idea why they told us to read it. I guess if you're a heavy rock fan you'd like it, but it was kind of like 300 pages of a blog. And he spent a whole chapter telling us how much you'd have to pay him to get him to stop listening to certain songs/bands.
Robert Kristoffersen
This is a very well written book that fails to defend the genre. At times it felt unfocused, and at others I really didn't care. For instance, nobody cares how much it would cost to get you to stop listening to a certain album and to take up a twenty page chapter? And did we really need an analysis of the Use Your Illusion? The other part of the problem is his justification of the misogyny that metal embodied. Hey, man, it's all capitalism. I enjoyed the history, but what I don't enjoy is being ...more
Oscar García
Buen libro. Lectura entretenida acerca de uno de los periodos más oscuros y denostados por el establishment de la prensa musical actual: los años del llamado glam metal, pop metal o, simplemente, hair metal. El autor repasa sus primeros años de adolescente en el Medio Este americano, en un pueblo en el que hay más vacas que personas, aprendiendo a escuchar a grupos como Mötley Crüe, Guns N Roses, Van Halen, Skid Row y mas. El libro se propone como un análisis cultural pero con frecuencia termina ...more
Andy
If you're into pop culture or metal music you MUST read this book. Chuck Klosterman starts with the premise that hair metal never received the respect it deserved and build from there.
Ron
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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...
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“What my mom failed to understand was that I didn't even want long hair -- I needed long hair. And my desire for protracted, flowing locks had virtually nothing to do with fashion, nor was it a form of protest against the constructions of mainstream society. My motivation was far more philosophical. I wanted to rock. ” 10 likes
“It might sound chauvinistic, but there is a sad reality in rock music: Bands who depend on support from females inevitably crash and burn.” 9 likes
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