Book Reviews, Reviews

If I ever see Chuck Klosterman (again)…

About six weeks ago I was at a concert; Drive By Truckers and The Hold Steady were playing. Early in the show, one of the people I was with pointed past me, to my right, and said “That’s Chuck Klosterman over there,” to which I eloquently responded “huh.” then turned my head back to the band and didn’t give it a second thought until Monday. Note that I said “huh.” and not “huh?” This is because I recognized the name, but I had no idea why. I gave it a second thought on Monday, because I was in a bookstore, and I saw Sex Drugs and Cocoa Puffs on the shelf. I had stumbled upon this book on the Internet months ago, added it to my Amazon wish list, and then promptly forgot it existed.

So, having just remembered seeing Chuck at the concert and that I was, or more accurately had been at some point in time, interested in his book, I bought it. By (literally) the second page, I knew two things: 1 – I will read every other Klosterman book, and 2 – I want to befriend Chuck Klosterman. Any author who blames his love life on John Cusack is not only an author who has both my attention and my admiration, but he is a guy who I want to have intense conversations with, most likely about things that no one else on the planet gives a damn about. Example? I would be willing to bet we could go five rounds on the merit of When Harry Met Sally. (While I agree with his overall thesis, he claims this movie is not a must-see, while I think it is a stellar example of perfectly executed dialog in film, and should be watched by anyone and everyone.)

By page the fourth page, I knew exactly how I would begin the conversation: “Mr. Klosterman, I found your book to be a piece of writing on par with Sarah Vowell, who I consider to be one of the greatest voices of this generation. I must say, however, that I found the ending to be disappointing. While thematically I understand its placement, I think you should have ended with an essay of higher quality. More important than that, however, is the simple fact that ‘normalcy’ IS NOT A WORD.”

In the Presidential campaign of 1920, Republican candidate Warren G. Harding used the slogan “A return to normalcy” to defeat Democrat James M. Cox by  landslide margin of 37 states to Cox’s 11. The only problem is that “normalcy” is not now, was not then, and – with the grace of God – will never be a word. He made it up. (Or, more likely, a campaign stooge wrote it down wrong, and realized the mistake too late.) Since then, “normalcy” has entered into common use.

Why do I feel it necessary to shove this down the guy’s throat? For two reasons: 1 – as I really do consider him to be a great voice of his generation, I think it important that his work is not sullied by grammar mistakes, and 2 – I think he would find it interesting that a new fan rips him a new one over such a minor detail. From his writing, I gather that Chuck Klosterman is like me: he knows a lot about a lot, and he wants other people to know it. That is why I like his writing. That is why he and I should hang out.

I guess what I am trying to say is that I have a totally platonic, heterosexual man-crush on Chuck Klosterman.

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