Killing Yourself to Live: 85% of a True Story
By Chuck Klosterman.
Klosterman writes in his new book: "Have I become so reliant on pop culture that it's the only way I can understand anything?" It might seem wrong to always look at the world through a foggy vinyl lens, but he shouldn't fight it. When it comes to comprehending issues of life, death and the soundtrack played in between, Klosterman can use pop culture to explain just about everything.
A native of Fargo, North Dakota, Klosterman has always used his vast store of trivia to frame what might otherwise be mundane experiences. He tackles the road-trip memoir with Killing, starting out with a story assignment from his "striking blond editor" at Spin (he repeats this a lot) and spending the summer of 2003 trekking around the country, making pilgrimages to places rock stars have died. So what's the point of doing blow with mourners at the site of the Great White fire in Rhode Island? Why seek out the tiny metal cross in Clear Lake, Iowa, where Buddy Holly's plane crashed? Because it gives Klosterman a chance to ponder the bigger meta-issue: Why do we want to live?
Of course, it's a question Klosterman can only tackle through pop culture. "If I was committing suicide, I would totally worry about what Beatles song I would play!" he banters with a Spin co-worker. Thing is, he's not going to off himself. He'd rather have a random conversation about Kafka in a Cracker Barrel. Or maybe dissect how Radiohead's Kid A accidentally predicted September 11. Or organize his romantic entanglements with half a dozen women by comparing them to the rotating members of KISS (although his pages upon pages dedicated to blathering female angst and failed relationships are the book's sole, but major, lowlight). Driving around the country looking for death makes Klosterman realize how much he's got to live for. And that doing drugs is always a hell of a lot of fun.—Antonia Simigis