BOOKED SOLID: Hipster author as witty as ever in latest collection of essays

by corinne white | 11/18/09 11:00pm

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Chuck Klosterman's
by Courtesy of Amazon.com / The Dartmouth

Full disclosure: I have a crush on Chuck Klosterman.

It started the first time I laughed out loud reading "Sex, Drugs, and Cocoa Puffs: A Low Culture Manifesto" (2004). I became full-blown schoolgirl-worthy when I glanced at his picture on the back cover I have a thing for guys with glasses. After reading "Eating the Dinosaur," released on Oct. 20, I am even more smitten.

After taking a stab at a novel with "Downtown Owl" (2008), Klosterman has wisely returned to the essay format for which he's known.

The essays offer commentary on pop culture idiosyncrasies, including why laugh tracks on sitcoms are "philosophically" stupid and, how Garth Brooks' popularity was actually a subconscious response of a public looking to fill the void left by Bruce Springsteen.

And, in typical Klosterman fashion, he covers these ostensibly vacuous topics with an insight so ingenious that it's disarming.

The greatness of "Eating the Dinosaur" does not come from Klosterman's literary skill per se. While his writing is sharp and concise, you don't read Klosterman for his prose.

The real treat of "Dinosaurs" is getting into Klosterman's inimitable mind, one that takes the minutia of pop culture like Prince's refusal to let reporters record his interviews and comes up with broader insight on human nature, which in this case would be that we worry about being misquoted and prefer to be represented in abstractions.

What distinguishes "Dinosaurs" from Klosterman's earlier works is that he is now a famous, best-selling author, rather than a nerdy farm boy trying to make it in the New York publishing world.

Truth is that he's made it, and he's made it big. But rather than having his newfound success be the elephant in the room, Klosterman openly acknowledges it, bringing up interesting differences from the days when he interviewed others versus now when he's the one getting asked questions.

They sell Klosterman books at Urban Outfitters. This is an important fact, however, because if your book is sold by Urban Outfitters, it automatically means your book is hip, witty and hipster-approved which usually also means it could seem kind of overcooked to the majority of people who don't wear neon sunglasses and fedoras.

Yes, I'll concede, Klosterman's formula, even if it is brilliant, can get a bit irritating and repetitive.

Despite his potentially toxic cooler-than-thou status and unremarkable prose skills, Klosterman's striking ability to balance humor and insight makes "Eating the Dinosaurs" well worth reading.