From New York Times best-selling author, "one of America's top cultural critics" (Entertainment Weekly), and "The Ethicist" for The New York Times Magazine, comes a new book of all original pieces on villains and villainy.
Chuck Klosterman has walked into the darkness. As a boy, he related to the cultural figures who represented goodness - but as an adult, he found himself unconsciously aligning with their enemies. This was not because he necessarily liked what they were doing; it was because they were doing it on purpose (and they were doing it better). They wanted to be evil. And what, exactly, was that supposed to mean? When we classify someone as a bad person, what are we really saying (and why are we so obsessed with saying it)?
In I Wear the Black Hat, Klosterman questions the very nature of how modern people understand the concept of villainy. What was so Machiavellian about Machiavelli? Why don't we see Batman the same way we see Bernhard Goetz? Who's more worthy of our vitriol - Bill Clinton or Don Henley? What was O.J. Simpson's second-worst decision? And why is Klosterman still obsessed with some kid he knew for one week in 1985?
Masterfully blending cultural analysis with self-interrogation and limitless imagination, I Wear the Black Hat delivers perceptive observations on the complexity of the anti-hero (seemingly the only kind of hero America still creates). I Wear the Black Hat is the rare example of serious criticism that's instantly accessible and really, really funny. Klosterman is the only writer doing whatever it is he's doing.
©2013 Chuck Klosterman (P)2013 Simon & Schuster
Dr. Nils Rasmussen
For years now, Chuck Klosterman has been my favorite author because of his quick wit, sub-pop cultural knowledge, conversational style, and his unique way of looking at the rest of the world. His books "IV" and "Sex, Drugs, and Cocoa Puffs" are some of the titles I am most proud to have on my bookshelf.
Although this book IS incredibly insightful at times, and it DOES read just as easily as any of Klosterman's other work, it falls just a LITTLE short of what I had hoped. I believe this is because, (up until this book), he had never penned himself in to a corner as far as the exact TOPIC of what he was "supposed" to write about. Although I'm sure his goal was to have everything tie together neatly in the end, the book comes across as a collection of essays that are related only by the slightest thread.
Still, a very enjoyable listen but I'm sure that Chuck wishes he hadn't given himself self-imposed restrictions on his subject matter.
I enjoyed this book a lot, the narrator took some getting used to but about a half hour into it, I felt like I was having coffee with a friend and discussing pop culture. I don't know if I would have enjoyed it as much if I was not in the author's age range, but since I am, I found it very thought-provoking and well-explained. Discussing some of the topics after reading, I discovered that Batman is a highly sensitive subject with a lot of people. I find myself evaluating people's motivations (characters or real people) with a more discerning eye after reading this. Well worth the credit spent.
While the premise was interesting it seemed at times like he was all over the place and it was a bit confusing. Many of his ideas are interesting but he doesn't really provide much concrete evidence of them. I think the book really brings up good ideas but his support for his opinion on the ideas sometimes just isn't there. This also is the first book of his I have read where some of his personal biases seem to have clouded his reasoning and not made me buy in.
This is the first Chuck Klosterman book I've ever read. It was lighthearted, thought provoking and a lot of fun. I will be listening to his other books for sure.
One thing to note though. He reads the book himself. And for the first 5 minutes I thought: "This guys should NOT be reading his own book." But after I got used to him, he seems like the perfect person to be narrating his work. I can't imagine one of the typical great readers like Scott Brick reading this. So if you listen to the sample and worry that you won't like the narration, don't worry, you will get used to it, it's a good thing.
A Real Expert
Hearing Chuck read this is book is the only way to experience it. don't read it, listen to him read it
Arms folded behind his head, as you listen to this.
Overall, this was a pretty good book. Not as cutting as his earlier works, but well worth the listen if dissecting pop culture and the human condition around being a villain is your thing.
Write for the audience and pontificate less on his own life and opinions.
There is a long section where Chuck describes all the bands he hated through the years of his youth. It is excruciatingly dull, and I kept asking myself why he thought his readers would care.
The topic is interesting, and I was excited to get the book. Sadly, the author addresses the topic of villains in a narrow minded and boring fashion. I was hoping for something Malcolm Gladwell-esque, but it is nowhere near as good.
Meh. Klosterman thinks he's very clever because he can make more pop culture references in more fields than almost anyone else. It's fine, he has some good insights about the whole idea of villains, but overall it's about Klosterman himself. He is trying to show how clever he is. Always. Despite that, there were parts I quite enjoyed. He's a good reader, and has the right sardonic tone for his own writing.
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