Reviews:: Chuck Klosterman IV

It’s almost cliché for a music review site to review Chuck Klosterman’s new book, but like Milk D, I don’t care. Klosterman, while not the best writer out there, has definitely redefined how music columnists in our generation write. For fans of the Sportsguy (ESPN columnist, Bill Simmons) you will see a shocking similarity as Bill drifts farther away from sports and more into the Chuck “real world/road rules genre” (ironically, as Chuck writes for ESPN now, he actually writes more about sports than the Sports Guy).

Taking a cue from Lester Bangs, Klosterman transplants himself into his reviews, and makes parallel observations about his life and how it applies to whatever artist or record he is concerned with at the time. However, where he changed reviewing really shows up when he uses obscure pop culture references to prove his points, and basically challenges you to combat them. The thing is, you like Michael Jordan, you can’t defend them because they are so loosely based on reality and overall just make you laugh. To me, this is cooler than Ajax before a brawl with the baseball furies (see, it’s easy – how can you defend it?).

His fourth novel, Chuck Klosterman IV: A Decade of Curious People and Dangerous Ideas is a decided return to the style that made Chuck Klosterman so popular. It’s another collection of essays, mostly columns he’s written for major publications like Spin, Esquire and the Believer. Instead of 20 page essays like Sex, Drugs and Cocoa Puffs, these columns are usually only a few pages long. This is the perfect length for Klosterman. His observations are usually accurate, humorous and when he is restricted by a word count, very focused.

True Klosterman fans will have read most of the material online or in magazines, but for those new to his writing, it’s a great intro. You get to see how one of the most popular columnists views music (why the term guilty pleasure is ridiculous and finding bands that are just rated, not over or underrated), world affairs (how the USA has become like Kevin Arnold) and society in general, without turning the whole affair into a self indulgent journey into his life (like the largely Killing Yourself to Live).

Not many people read these days, so it’s easy to recommend this book. It’s an enjoyable, funny, light read, perfect for all the ADD kids who want instant humor without having to think about characters or plots. Plus, before reading this book I had no idea that Canadian super rocker Gowan fronts Styx. So for that fact alone, it was worth it.


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