Today at 12:30 PM, you can catch rock critic Chuck Klosterman reading from his new book, Killing Yourself To Live: 85% Of A True Story, at the Bryant Park Reading Room as part of Coliseum Books’ “Word for Word” lunchtime reading series.
Gothamist read Chuck’s latest book, which advertised itself as a rock n roll adventure in which our musing protagonist spends 21 days driving cross-country to visit and ponder music’s greater deaths, from Kurt Cobain to Lynyrd Skynrd. But though the book remained rather entertaining through Chuck’s travels, what follows is a melancholy Nick-Hornby-inspired confession of Chuck’s relationship failures and his inability to choose between three different women.
As Chuck checks himself into hotels and shoots off his trademark ridiculously smarmy opinions (“Every guy in [Joy Division] should have hung himself, probably; nobody would have missed New Order, except for a bunch of idiots who think taking drugs and dancing is more fun than drinking and feeling melodramatic”), he elaborates on such heated topics as the difference between love and infatuation, why Rod Stewart’s Never a Dull Moment makes his weep like Demi Moore in St. Elmo’s Fire, why death is and isn’t a great career boost, and how the way he understands KISS has become the way he understands life. But for a great chunk of the book, he narcissistically pines away for his women like a sappy blogger.
While some essays come across as sincere and amusing, such as expounding on Wynona Rider’s diary entry from Heathers, others seem like he forces the insight (“we are always dying, all the time. That’s what living is; living is dying, little by little…a collection of individualized deaths”) or read like a half-butchered Eggers entry (“when I looked into her eyes, I could see the word yes. It’s like the word was stenciled into her pupils. And yes has always been my favorite word”). It is undoubtedly an absorbing book, as Klosterman is a terrific writer -- but in comparison to his past books and articles, it’s slightly disappointing. Whereas the author was once known for taking light subjects too seriously and enthusiastically philosophizing on culture’s overlooked minutiae (in fact, that was his charm), here he disguises his personal tribulations in a scattered “rock n roll” road trip memoir and you come away thinking, “what was the point?” Not that Gothamist needs a book packaged and laced in a bright Cameron Crowe ending, but the ending seemed a bit anti-climatic, and perhaps the only paragraph which might hint to the audience’s response was in fact a warning: Chuck’s co-worker, Lucy Chance, pleads with him not to write a book about the women he’s in love with.
“That’s exploitive…and a bit desparate..Who wants to read another book about some death-obsessed drug addict who listens to Fleetwood Mac and lionizes the women who used to drive him crazy?...Just don’t complain to me when all those idiot bloggers write things like, ‘Ultimately the author should have listened to his friend Lucy Chance.’ Because you know that will happen.”
“Well, perhaps if I specifically mention that possibility, it won’t happen.”
Well we’d hate to incriminate ourselves as “those idiot bloggers,” but we’ll have to pull for Lucy’s cause. Overall, Killing Yourself to Live was definately enjoyable, as we finished it in one sitting. And we’re sure many will hail it as one more brownie point to Chuck’s genius, but if you’re new to The Klost, we’d suggest reading his more original works, like Sex, Drugs and Cocoa Puffs (which we loved) or Fargo Rock City, which is equally as personal, and less expensive than $23.00. In fact, the first to email us with interest can receive our dog-eared Killing Yourself to Live. We’ll even throw in our favorite Klosterman Esquire article.