Countless writers and artists have spoken for a generation, but no one has done it quite like Chuck Klosterman, with an exhaustive knowledge of popular culture and a seemingly effortless ability to spin brilliant prose out of unlikely subject matter. Whether deconstructing Saved by the Bell episodes or the artistic legacy of Billy Joel, the symbolic importance of The Empire Strikes Back or the Celtics/Lakers rivalry of the 1980s, Chuck will make you think, he'll make you laugh, and he'll drive you insane, usually all at once.
Sex, Drugs, and Cocoa Puffs is ostensibly about movies, sports, television, music, books, video games, and kittens but, really, it's about us. All of us. As Klosterman realizes late at night, in the moment before he falls asleep, "In and of itself, nothing really matters. What matters is that nothing is ever 'in and of itself.'"
©2003, 2004 Chuck Klosterman. All rights reserved.; (P)2006 Simon & Schuster Inc. All rights reserved. Audioworks is an imprint of Simon & Schuster Audio Division, Simon & Schuster, Inc.
"[Klosterman] is a skilled prose stylist with a witty, twisted brain, a photo-perfect memory for entertainment trivia, and has real chops as a memoirist." (Publishers Weekly)
"Intelligent analysis and thought-provoking insight....there is much here to entertain and illuminate." (Amazon.com)
The author and narrator is very entertaining. Unfortunately, his subjects and conclusions are difficult to relate to and frequently contrived. If you’re looking for an hour’s worth of detailed analysis on the Real World or Saved by the Bell, this is your book. I could have skipped about half of the chapters and been a bit more satisfied. In any case, he does a good job of presenting his topics and with enough comedic sarcasm to keep your attention.
I enjoyed these essays -- the author writes with great style and verve (although he sounds like Comic Book Guy from The Simpsons when he reads). The big insights into "low" culture did not seem as profound or as funny as the smaller moments, those single caustic lines and shining observations that made me fall over laughing. Definitely sample this book before you buy it!
Dr. Nils Rasmussen
Chuck Klosterman embodies everything that I WISH I could be as a writer. This book is FULL of brilliant observations, hilarious anecdotes, and memorable one-liners. This book is worth every penny.
Born to be a writer. Raised to forget about it. Follow me on twitter @ArdaWhateverian
Certain CHAPTERS from this book certainly are recommended for those who really dig music.
Only if it's strictly about music.
Chuck shares his thoughts like he’s sitting next to you and talking to himself. The fact that he is narrating his own book makes it more personal - almost like we get to really know him.
John Cusack..... just kidding.
I cannot see this turn into a movie or TV series unless CHUCK himself is in it.
This was the first audible-book I ever tried and it was the RIGHT book to start with: It is narrated by the author himself, who shares his thoughts like he’s sitting next to you and talking to himself.
First, some important clarifications:
1) This book is not for everybody. You’ve got to be American enough and immersed in pop culture enough to get its references. I myself am not American but have been obsessed enough with American music and movies to know what he was talking about throughout the chapters– well, except for the American football chapters. Those were especially uninteresting.
2) Chuck seems to be under the impression that the book targets those born in the mid-to-late seventies, but as someone who was born in the 80s, it still works. “Saved by the Bell” was aired on our TV screens in the 90s, but that may be due to a slight satellite lag in the Middle East!
OK. So. This book had some amusing moments. Examples of those are:
- Mentions of how John Cusack and Nora Ephron have been ‘ruining our relationships’
- Critical analysis of how we listen to music (we often like to think of the “IDEA” of what we’re listening to)
- Mix tapes vs. compilation CDs
- The take on patriotism (would you want to date someone who identifies as “patriotic”, or does that come off as creepy?)
- The fact that TV shows have created one-dimensional personalities, which in turn have made us, the consumers of this pop culture, lose our multi-dimensional aspects. Chuck talks about the singularity of self-awareness in this “real world” culture that is devoid of complexities: “People started becoming personality templates devoid of complication and obsessed with melodrama,” and being interesting has become replaced by being identifiable.
- Chuck also goes through long analysis of the SIMs computer game, sports, religion, and serial killers.
There are other amusing takes here and there, like Chuck’s touring with Paradise City: a Guns N’ Roses tribute band, whose goal is not to be somebody, but to be somebody else. Chuck also lets us know that he’s watching Pamela Anderson’s porn video while he’s writing the book, and goes on to compare Pam’s legacy – of our times – to Marilyn Monroe’s fame in an earlier generation, in terms of what the world valued then (the concept of celebrity, iconic figures and social philosophy) and the plastic greatness that is representative of the decline of American morality.
My favourite chapter was the one about Billy Joel. Chuck’s take on Joel is that his music is about loneliness: "Every one of Joel's important songs - including the happy ones - are ultimately about loneliness. It’s not clever lonely, like Morrissey, or interesting lonely, like Radiohead. It’s lonely lonely; like the way it feels when you are being hugged by someone and it somehow makes you sadder.” Chuck goes on to explain how Billy Joel’s “Just the Way You Are” is descriptive of the depression in all of us, because three years after releasing that song, Joel divorced his wife who he had written this song about, and it reminds Chuck of the love letters he had written to his ex-girlfriends; believing he would never get over them, but he got over them. "I hate that those letters still exist. But I don't hate them because what I said was false; I hate them because what I said was completely true. My convictions could not have been stronger when I wrote those words, and - for whatever reason - they still faded into nothingness." In that same chapter, Chuck mentions other musicians too, like Led Zeppelin (inarguably one of the coolest bands), Black Sabbath (one of the most under-estimated bands, yet indisputably cool), Meatloaf (“a goofball who is cool, in spite of himself”), David Bowie (not only a musician but so cool he becomes a pop idea) and Bruce Springsteen (also cool and representative of the working man). These are ideas of what we’re supposed to be experiencing, says Klosterman, and he highlights on coolness vs. greatness. Billy Joel, he insists, is *not* cool. He is faceless, and, in some ways, meaningless: his personal image is not integral to his success; he is not a pop idea. He is just a guy, who represents the depression of all of us. Chuck did such a good job at describing the way he sees Billy Joel that upon finishing this chapter, I went ahead and bought “The Nylon Curtain” album.
But this is probably just as good as this book gets. A little after this chapter, this book stops being so interesting and starts to head to a one-dimensional direction that Klosterman himself had been criticizing against. At some point, he goes as far as promoting the one-sided “you’re either with us or against us” soldier-like mentality that he himself is supposedly against. His sweeping generalizations and sometimes-petty arguments which are presented as “truths” also give no chance for the potentially-insightful momentum he had initially started with to survive. The singularity of his presentations, unfortunately, seems to represent that same one-dimensional reading that Klosterman had described American pop culture to have become.
This book is not really recommended, but I would say certain chapters from this book certainly are recommended for those who really dig music.
I read this book after I read Dying to Live, Chuck IV and Eating the Dinosaur, I just wasn't sure I would like it. I loved this book. I laughed out loud throughout it and nodded along and found myself telling anyone who would listen that they should read it. Take Chuck with his ego and opinions and narcissism and love him as much as he loves himself.
I found this to be a very enjoyable book. The narration is very well done and the book itself is hilarious and often insightful.
This was my first Chuck Klosterman book, I was worn down by constant suggestions to read it by Audible and Amazon. I loved this book, I found myself holding off on finishing it so that I could savor the end. With that being said, this book is not for everyone. Make sure you read the description of the book before purchasing. If you like what you see, you will probably like the book. An easy five star for me.
Really funny but more insightful...hard to describe; it's a great read. I'm a musician and once (jokingly) described myself as a "narcissistic hot dude." To love and get this book you have to know the person who recommended it to you. Hard to quantify, amazing to read; if you like it your are COOL, like billy joel.
I usually just click on the star-rating and don't usually write reviews, but I felt compelled in this case. There is no doubt that the author is smart and can write (the main reason for 2 stars instead of 1), but his subject matter is mind-numbingly idiotic. Elaborately detailed essays on topics such as Pamela Anderson and MTV The Real Life are long, boring, and inane, and would only interest someone else similarly obsessed. I kept hoping he all of his minute observations and pointless philosophizing about pop-culture and celebrities would culminate in some greater point, but they never did. Also, the author reads the book himself, which is something I wish happened more often for non-fiction works, but in this case his nasal, whiny voice just grates. Suffice it to say, this is the first audiobook I just could not make it through. I turned it off and listened to the radio (of all things) until I could get home and download a different audiobook!
It wasn't terrible, but it wasn't great. It had some funny parts. Would I read it again?... no, maybe just the funny parts.
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