Wednesday, August 4, 2010

Sex, Drugs and Cocoa Puffs by Chuck Klostermann

"I remember saying things, but I have no idea what was said. It was generally a friendly conversation.” —Associated Press reporter Jack Sullivan, attempting to recount a 3 A.M. exchange we had at a dinner party and inadvertently describing the past ten years of my life."

Sex, Drugs, and Cocoa Puffs is a collection of essays by Chuck Klosterman, probably the most polarizing and visible pop-culture critic currently working. Best known for his spirited defenses of things that are uncool, like Guns n’ Roses and Saved by the Bell, this collection touches on a large variety of topics—everything from tribute bands to the rapture to the titular Cocoa Puffs are subjected to Klosterman’s incisive eye.

Sometimes, he’s contradictory—he decries those who don’t like country in one essay while stating that people who claim to like all music really like no music at all—or just sort of off the wall, like when he claims that mainstream country is more genuine than Bob Dylan. Fortunately, Klosterman mostly avoids abrasive snark, and even the essays I disagree with most vehemently don’t come across as too self important.

The only real complaint I have about this book is the structure. The essays are separate, disconnected entities, but between them, there are little interstitial bits in tiny type, tackling some topic like mathematical probability—Klosterman thinks it’s a crock—or rambling. Sometimes these are comical, but mostly they’re interruptions and represent a pretentious shift in voice for an essayist who’s mostly pretension free.

One of my friends said that he thinks Klosterman is an unusually gifted pop culture commentator but not much else, and based on this collection, I’d tend to agree. There are worse things to be, though, and worse authors with whom to spend an evening.

1 comment:

Christopher said...

Probability is a crock? That's an interesting outlook.

Klosterman regularly does bits with Bill Simmons on ESPN and he seems pretty savvy.