Monday, October 26, 2009

Reading Rainbow: Eating the Dinosaur by Chuck Klosterman

Last Tuesday, I sat down with the brand new Chuck Klosterman* book of essays, Eating the Dinosaur.

*By the way, he partook in a two-part podcast with Bill Simmons last week.

Last Tuesday, I finished Eating the Dinosaur.

Aside from changing the music* serving as the soundtrack to my reading experience, I didn't move from my seat.

*It was all instrumental.

Since starting this blog, I have voraciously consumed Chuck Klosterman's entire body of work, thanks in large part to the prodding of KRD (who apparently forgot she has a blog...) who loaned me a copy of Fargo Rock City as I was nearing the completion of another read. As such, I have read everything he's published (outside of articles not included in Chuck Klosterman IV) in the past year and a half.

His latest book is his first book of original essays since the superb Sex, Drugs, and Cocoa Puffs. While it may not achieve the lofty heights of SD&CP, Eating the Dinosaur is an immensely enjoyable read. His subjects range from Ralph Sampson as a bust to Garth Brooks' alter-ego, from the popularity and constantly evolving nature of football to an examination of the interview, from a comparison of David Koresh and Kurt Cobain to a villification of the laugh track.

If none of those things sound like they could be interesting to you, you probably shouldn't talk to me.

Perhaps the weirdest thing to me is the fact that he essay on Garth Brooks' rock alter-ego, Chris Gaines. I find this mostly weird because over the past couple of years I have convinced myself that this record has to be awesome and that I need to find it. I occasionally meander over to the used CD bins while at the record store in the hopes of tracking down a copy of this never-heard but assumed-to-be-great vanity project. Further piquing my interest is Klosterman's analysis of the motives behind Brooks' release. Never fully knowing the Chris Gaines "biography", it fascinates me to know that Brooks elected to concoct such an in-depth life story for his Australian rock god other self, going so far as to detail Gaines' record sales on his previous critical and commercial successes. The essay, venturing into the realm of character study and distanced psychological evaluation, is spectacularly on point.

Klosterman's comparison of David Koresh to Kurt Cobain is exactly what we've come to expect from the pop-culture theorist extraordinaire. The point is surprising in its ability to convince the reader of its verity.

His football essay, delving into how the sport has become the gigantically popular entity that it is today, is perhaps the most complete section of the book. The support for his argument is compelling enough that I think he could actually write an entire book about the rise of American football to the top of the sports food chain and I would read that in a sitting as well.

What I do or don't say about this book is immaterial. The record shows that I am a big fan of Chuck Klosterman's work. My reaction to his newest book cannot be surprising. I will say that I am very glad he is already working on another book (talks about it in the podcast linked to above). I kind of need at least one a year. Could you please make that happen, Chuck?

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