Following an uneven novel (Downtown Owl, 2008, etc.), Klosterman returns to deconstructing pop culture to its base elements.
The author is best when a) he makes lists, b) he writes about either music or sports and c) he revels in absurdist connections that most writers couldn’t imagine. Those three traits have been Klosterman’s strengths long before critics started comparing him to Hunter S. Thompson. They’re also what make this book his best collection of writing since his breakthrough, Sex, Drugs, and Cocoa Puffs (2003). For the first time since Killing Yourself to Live (2005), Klosterman has no constraints. He’s not limited by word counts, and he’s not trying to make his writing serve the story or a character. He’s just indulging, which means he’s free to do whatever he likes, be it comparing Nirvana frontman Kurt Cobain with Branch Davidian leader David Koresh or pondering why innovative football coaches are often somewhat crazy. Klosterman often meanders from point to point, only finally connecting it tentatively together at the end of each essay. Sometimes the conclusions are simple and insightful (e.g., the only reason we allow ourselves to be interviewed is because we desperately want our opinions to matter, even if they don’t). Other times they’re just silly: ABBA was never relevant, which makes the group totally relevant. “If you classify something as ‘irrelevant,’ you’re (obviously) using it as a unit of comparison against whatever is ‘relevant,’ so it (obviously) does have meaning and merit,” he writes. “Truly irrelevant art wouldn’t even be part of the conversation.” Either way, Klosterman delivers his findings like earth-shattering epiphanies, letting the layers of subtle humor and irony fill in any gaps in logic. The result is a collection as much about the author and his way of thinking as it is about his topics. In both cases, the author is unique.
Funny, irreverent and fascinating—Klosterman at his best.