Thursday, February 19, 2009

Reading Rainbow: "Killing Yourself to Live" by Chuck Klosterman

I had been putting off reading this for the simple fact that once I finished it there would be no new Klosterman books for me to read. Well, I couldn't hold off any longer.

Killing Yourself to Live recounts Chuck Klosterman's 2003 18-day road trip across America visiting rock star death sites. Over the course of this road trip, Klosterman gets into his own head and starts obsessing over the loves of his life, and by the end of the book--and a relatively long period of time in which he is left to his thoughts--he is assigning the identities of various players (down to session musicians) throughout the history of KISS to the women who have walked in and out of his life.

A work such as this could certainly step over the line of self-indulgence, but luckily Klosterman is an engaging enough writer that this never happens. As he explores death in rock 'n roll and the effect it has on people, he starts laying out theories on how Kid A predicted 9/11, how the Rhode Islanders who perished at the Great White show were actually there because the music had meant something to them, how L.A. sucks, how Stevie Nicks backing vocals on "Go Your Own Way" in which she essentially calls herself a slut are deserved because she shacked up with Don Henley, and how Led Zeppelin will be always be more popular amongst male music fans than the Beatles and the Stones because at one point in time every male believes that Led Zeppelin are the only good rock band ever. And some of his theories hold more water than others, but when he hits a nerve it sticks with you, and it is great.

And, really, that is why you read Klosterman. He is thoroughly engaging, and there are no cop-out endings like another well-known first-person writer I've mentioned here before. His insights into music are often borderline insane, but I suppose many could say the same of me and my weird posts here in which I insist that Kenneth Lonergan drew from "My Two Dads" to inspire You Can Count On Me, so I am certainly not judging him for the insanity. In fact, I laud him for indulging the tangential trajectory of his thought process and sharing it with the masses.

Killing Yourself to Live is also a breeze of a read. I read it in a day, so it certainly shouldn't take long. So in terms of what you get for your effort, the fruits far exceed the labor spent.

But don't take my word for it...

1 comment:

KRD said...

I read Downtown Owl yesterday. I put it off for as long as I could--for exactly the same reason that you waited to read KYTL.

I have many thoughts about this book. I might write about it. But I at least thought I would mention that I finally got around to it--

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