Sunday, May 08, 2005

May is "Chuck Klosterman Month"

In the fall and winter of last year, my reading patterns were somewhat binge-like, particularly for November and December. I was reading rock genre histories which were either completely devoid of humor, or straining to generate those charmless chortles you hear from survivors of the scene ("That's when we all dropped acid; within minutes Ted was trying to dynamite fish from the stream" etc). It occurred to me that rock musicians and rock journalists have one problem in common: both want to be taken way too seriously.

There isn't much I remember from those books, except for a few odd little facts (e.g., Metallica sold more records in 15 years than the Rolling Stones have to date). Music I once loved - metal, punk - was now leeched dry of charm. I had had enough of these ponderous books, and was set to move on to the next literary, and musical, genre. Then the library called.

The book I'd requested - Fargo Rock City by Chuck Klosterman - had just arrived.

Fargo Rock City was just what the doctor ordered. I snickered to read Chuck's defense of Hair Metal. Praising Bon Jovi, Poison, Mötley Crüe - he was being ironic, right? Wrong. While Mr. Klosterman was side-splittingly funny on this issue, he was also completely in earnest. This deft combination worked so well, by book's end I was ready to spend money on CDs I had purposely gone out of my way to avoid, back in the day.

Fargo Rock City is a wild left hook that, against all odds, hits the target. I tore through the book on a flight from Toronto to San Francisco, then bought a copy and read it again. So it pleases me to see Mr. Klosterman doing well in his chosen field as freelance writer. This month sees him commenting on style in Believer, and contributing two pieces to Esquire. Those are worth a lunch-time perusal at your local magazine stand, but the real gold is to be found in Fargo Rock City. Read it and weep, from laughter and self-recognition.

Correction: Mr. K. has become one of Esquire's contributing editors. Congrats, farmboy - kill 'em all!

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