13 April 2010

Book 9 of 2010

I finished this book while taking a break from grading during STAR testing.

Eating the Dinosaur

9) Eating the Dinosaur by Chuck Klosterman
Chuck Klosterman's latest book of essays is his best one yet, but the author is not without his annoying intricacies. His use of the word 'iconography', I'm looking at you.

If I had never heard Chuck Klosterman on The BS Report with Bill Simmons, I think I would like him a whole lot more than I do. Also, if I had never read David Foster Wallace and then had the fact that Klosterman desperately wishes to be him pointed out to me. That is not to say that Klosterman isn't a good writer or an enjoyable one, but aspects of his literary career seem overly calculated, more so with each bit of fame he achieves.  His entire literary career has been spent trying to emulate better authors in a pop style for the masses. He's the kind of author that less widely read people would look to as "theirs": the kind of writer that they can see as their subversive alternative to a Grisham, Koontz or even King, if any of those guys were widely known for their media or pop culture criticism. He's the kind of author people can name at a party and then feel better for having name-dropped an author that some of the other folks hadn't heard of.

Since Klosterman started his career writing about and much of his book Chuck Klosterman: IV dealt extensively with music, I get the impression that unless he ties in an additional subject for comparison like he does in "Oh, the Guilt" that his writing about the subject has become formulaic. This is part of what makes Eating the Dinosaur work really well. He tackles subjects like time travel and the Unabomber and advertising and all of them seem a lot more inspired than his previous work. The only sore spot is the first essay, "Something Instead of Nothing," which deals with the nature of interviewing. It's representative of everything I dislike about the guy as he combines navel-gazing with self-importance and adds in ruminations on his quasi-fame.

Chuck Klosterman is a guy I think I could enjoy as a person and a writer if less of his ego was involved in the former and more variety in the latter. I get the impression that he'll attempt a return at fiction in his next book, and I'll give that a read as well, but I hope he continues books like this one because it's his niche, and I really enjoyed reading it.

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