I first heard of Chuck Klosterman when the ESPN Sports Guy did an interview with him (here’s part 2). Described as a pop culture guru, the interview made it clear that he spent way way too much time thinking about inconsequential things. And I mean that in a good way. So he was on my mental list of authors to check out when I got a chance.
I happened to be wandering through a bookstore one day, and saw Sex, Drugs, and Cocoa Puffs: A Low Culture Manifesto, noticed it was by Klosterman, and picked it up. It’s a book of essays on a variety of topics, including Saved by the Bell, porn, Tom Cruise, the Real World TV show and a Guns’n’Roses cover band. Oh, and a meditation on Star Wars, that I flipped to in the bookstore. I read the following paragraph:
…it’s clear that Luke Skywalker was the original Gen Xer. For one thing, he was incessantly whiny. For another, he was exhaustively educated – via Yoda – about things that had little practical value (i.e. how to stand on one’s head while lifting a rock telekinetically). Essentially, Luke went to the University of Dagobah with a major in Buddhist philosophy and a minor in physical education. There’s not a lot of career opportunities for that kind of schooling; that’s probably why he dropped out in the middle of the semester. Meanwhile, Luke’s only romantic aspirations are directed toward a woman who (literally) looks at him like a brother. His dad is on his case to join the family business. Most significantly, all the problems in his life can be directly blamed on the generation that came before him, and specifically on his father’s views about what to believe (i.e. respect authority, dress conservatively, annihilate innocent planets, etc.)
I read that, and bought the book. Anybody that could extract that amount of analysis out of Star Wars and phrase it so hilariously was somebody I wanted to read more of. The rest of the essays are of similar excellent quality. Highly recommended. It’s great bedside reading.
I later picked up Killing Yourself to Live: 85% of a True Story, his next book. This was a travelogue, as he took a cross-country road trip to visit the places where rock stars have died. It sounds morbid, but it’s mostly an excuse for him to talk about music. He cares about music a lot. No, really. A _lot_. He also mixes in personal stories about women he’s loved and lost. It sounds more self-involved than it is. Well, actually, okay it is that self-involved, but it’s funny along the way. Less laugh out loud than Sex, Drugs and Cocoa Puffs, though.
I should grab his new book at some point. And Fargo Rock City, his first book.
P.S. To try to keep up with the daily posting schedule, I’ll probably be doing backlogged book reviews on nights when I’m feeling uninspired, as with tonight after my Corporate Finance class.