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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

3.80  ·  Rating details ·  12,530 ratings  ·  560 reviews
Empirically proving that -- no matter where you are -- kids wanna rock, this is Chuck Klosterman's hilarious 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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3.80  · 
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 ·  12,530 ratings  ·  560 reviews

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Jun 04, 2007 rated it it was ok
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
J.K. Grice
Oct 05, 2017 rated it really liked it
Shelves: bio-memoir
I don't like "hair" bands, but I love this book! To be fair, I grew up in an earlier time than Chuck did. My tastes ran toward Blue Oyster Cult, The Doobie Brothers, The Steve Miller Band, Creedence, ZZTOP, and many others.

If you are a music lover and want a fun read, FARGO ROCK CITY is a sure thing. Rock on Klosterman! It just might be true that no self-respecting rock band ever used an organ or a piano. Well, except of course for Skynyrd.... ;)
Jul 08, 2008 rated it it was ok
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
Feb 03, 2008 rated it it was ok
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
Jul 31, 2007 rated it really liked it
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
Mar 28, 2011 rated it really liked it
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
Oct 23, 2009 rated it really liked it
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
Aug 06, 2007 rated it it was ok
"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
Mike Schaefer
May 28, 2017 rated it liked it
I really like Chuck Klosterman. I don't really care a ton about heavy metal music. Several parts of this were really interesting, but because my general knowledge and interest in heavy metal is pretty low, parts of it dragged for me.

Still, happier having read it than not.
Eric Kalenze
Should be five stars for the amount I enjoyed it, but I save five-star ratings for books that somehow change the way I think of things from the point of reading onward.

This book didn't do that, but it certainly could have if, well, it hadn't so thoroughly REFLECTED my life: guy from rural ND (attended UND, as a matter of fact, which is in my hometown--I could take you straight to all the party houses he mentions in the book's later stages), was in his early teens as metal was exploding, spends l
Dr. Detroit
Oct 09, 2009 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
It may be sacrilege to some, and even laughable to others, but Chuck Klosterman may just filling in the gap in my medulla oblongata left by the death of Lester Bangs. "Fargo Rock City: A Heavy Metal Odyssey In Rural North Dakota" is a fascinating, insightful recounting of Klosterman's heavy metal obsession dating back to his days as a teenager in North Dakota. His unabashed love for not just metal, but rock and roll, shines through on every page, and his often hilarious stories of an adolescence ...more
Mar 31, 2009 rated it it was ok
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
Dec 31, 2007 rated it really liked it
Shelves: music
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
Bryan Hovey
Feb 27, 2018 rated it liked it
This book was a mixed bag for me and a labor of love to read. At times I couldn't put it down and at other times I didn't want to pick it back up. The writing is really good and there are some great stories that remind me of things and decisions I made when I was much younger. The ATM story is pretty good stuff. With that said - you take an opinionated music lover and have them read a book written by an opinionated music lover, there are bound to be some hard feelings. I don't agree with some of ...more
Jul 24, 2017 rated it it was ok
If someone attempts to defend the music they listened to in high school, don't listen. No matter what. And yet, on a recent road trip, I found this station that played all this music from when I was in high school. It was the best part of the road trip -- for me, at least. I could go on about it for another 270 pages!
Aug 21, 2017 rated it did not like it  ·  review of another edition
First of all this was not an odyssey. Secondly, Kosterman tried far too hard to write an intellectual book. He came across as overly self-important snob who could use big words and terms to take the joy out something fun just to make himself feel smarter.
Jan 08, 2009 rated it liked it
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
Feb 27, 2008 rated it liked it
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
Adam Hale
May 19, 2008 rated it it was amazing
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
Bo Liles
Jul 16, 2007 rated it really liked it
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
Nov 08, 2011 rated it it was amazing
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
May 13, 2010 rated it liked it
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
May 07, 2008 rated it it was amazing
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
Apr 20, 2011 rated it it was amazing
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
Brayden Decker
Jul 30, 2016 rated it it was amazing
I've never even been a fan of glam metal, and I'm only a casual fan of the metal I do like. But reading this book, Chuck Klosterman finally convinced me that I love Appetite for Destruction by Guns N Roses. Not even owning it on CD for 15 years was able to convince me I even "liked" it. But something clicked after reading Chuck talk about his love for it. And now I can't stop listening to it. In this sense, it contains the most effective review I've ever read of anything. And the rest of it was ...more
Evan Kirby
Oct 08, 2016 rated it really liked it
Enjoyed this a lot, especially since I thought it was going to be a conventional memoir with Klosterman going through his upbringing and such and then loosely tie it in with metal, but it wasn't that at all. Rather, this is basically a pseudo-history/timeline of metal and hard rock music, talking about various bands, their hits, why they became famous/fell and a bevy of other relations. He ties it in with his own growing up listening to these bands, of course, but it never feels like he's the ma ...more
Jul 09, 2007 rated it did not like it
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.
Jason Dikes
Mar 13, 2014 rated it it was amazing
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.
Apr 21, 2013 rated it did not like it
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.
May 06, 2012 rated it it was amazing
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.
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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.

“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. ” 12 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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