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Killing Yourself to Live: 85% of a True Story

3.85  ·  Rating details ·  23,739 Ratings  ·  1,128 Reviews
For 6,557 miles, from New York to Mississippi to Seattle, Chuck Klosterman decided to chase rock n roll and death across a continent. 21 days later, after three relationships, an encounter with various cottonmouth snakes, and a night spent snorting cocaine in a graveyard, Klosterman started to order his thoughts on American culture and the meaning of celebrity.
Paperback, 256 pages
Published January 18th 2007 by Faber Faber (first published 2005)
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Mike Lindgren
Dec 05, 2007 rated it did not like it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: nonfiction
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 02, 2007 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
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.
Jun 13, 2013 rated it liked it
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
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
Oct 29, 2007 rated it did not like it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: i-commented
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
May 17, 2007 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
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
Apr 27, 2009 rated it did not like it  ·  review of another edition
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
Aug 15, 2009 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
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
Anna Bond
Oct 14, 2008 rated it did not like it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: enemies
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
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
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
Feisty Harriet
Sep 16, 2016 rated it it was ok  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: memoir
I have loved some of Klosterman's writing, but this book is really not for me. It's about Chuck spending 5 weeks driving around the country, mostly by himself, locating the places where famous rock musicians have died. And he has some tremendous one-liners thrown in there, but Chuck and I don't care for the same music, and I just never really got into his chapter after chapter of how this or that song/album/group moved him, and his thoughts on how/where that person died. If you are a serious mus ...more
Jan 04, 2016 rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: memoir, nonfiction, 2016
Somewhere, at some point, somehow, somebody decided that death equals credibility.

I read Sex, Drugs, and Cocoa Puffs when it first came out, and even though that has lingered in my mind for a decade now as a funny and interesting skewering of pop culture, I didn't pick up another Chuck Klosterman book until now; and I think it would have been better if I had let him remain in my memory as a funny and interesting guy. Finishing Killing Yourself to Live, I can only report that this book felt for
S. M. Metzler
Apr 11, 2017 rated it did not like it  ·  review of another edition
Yay. I'm FINALLY done.
May 08, 2010 rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: non-fiction
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
Apr 27, 2015 rated it did not like it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: tried-2015
Made it to page 54 before I felt like I just might throw this book into a dumpster. I can't understand someone who is fascinated and in awe of an author who wrote about what music she'd listen to if she ever was brave enough to slit her wrists and bleed to death to, and yet finds no majesty, beauty or history in seeing the Washington Monument (or any monument in DC) or the Grand Canyon. He finds these "things" pointless, but music-to-suicide-to worth writing an entire chapter about.

No thanks.
Nov 24, 2012 rated it did not like it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: couldnt-get-into
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
Sep 29, 2011 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
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
Michael Metzler
I read this for a college class so that we could analyse it in terms of Ironic Living.
1. The depth of this book, and the material that it dealt with was very interesting and complex. There was a lot of metaphor and a whole level of thought I did not see by just reading through casually.
2. there was a lot of inappropriate material for young adults in here--it is certainly an adult book. That mainly comes from the fact that the author is an adult talking about his life. But, in the end, I do woul
Lakota Rossi
Cool book. Fun non-fiction to breeze through, especially for a music lover. Don't read if you hate that pre/early millennial pretension.
Daria Zeoli
I am a sucker for pop culture and I like to be entertained. This book fit the bill. And yet, I wish the author didn't come off as such a jerk.

Enjoyed the narration and found this audiobook perfect for commuting.
Matt Evans
Jul 13, 2008 rated it did not like it  ·  review of another edition
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
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
Sep 18, 2007 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
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
Jul 17, 2009 rated it it was ok  ·  review of another edition
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
Mar 05, 2014 rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
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
Nov 02, 2009 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
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
Dec 08, 2008 rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
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
Jan 11, 2010 rated it it was ok  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: non-fiction
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2017 Reading Chal...: Killing Yourself to Live: 85% of a True Story 1 18 Mar 19, 2015 11:39AM  
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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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“Art and love are the same thing: It’s the process of seeing yourself in things that are not you.” 3319 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.” 1057 likes
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