Klosterman’s Killing Yourself to Live, review

I made reference a while ago about reading Killing Yourself to Live: 85% of a True Story by Chuck Klosterman. I finished it a few weeks ago.

Chuck Klosterman is one of those incredibly sarcastic and self-aware pop culture writers. This doesn’t always turn out well.

The basic premise is that Chuck, a writer for Spin at the time, rents a Ford Taurus to drive across the country to see and write a piece about the places rock stars (or rock-related fires) died: Duane Allman (plane crash site), Lynard Skynard (plane crash), the Stations fire, Buddy Holly (plane crash), Jeff Buckley (drowning), Kurt Cobain (shotgun), etc. That’s all quite morbid. But the book is also largely about Klosterman dealing with his fractured relationships with three girls he’s in various stages with. Klosterman ties all these together in an interesting and funny story.

In the end, I felt like this is what Perfect from Now On: How Indie Rock Saved My Life (my review here) was trying to be: scattered thoughts in a way that the reader can (and wants to) still follow, clever asides, interesting writing about music but also really about something else as well. Now, if instead of talking about the merits of the KISS solo albums, Klosterman was talking about the long term impact of the Archers of Loaf, Pedro the Lion, or Sufjan Stevens, I’d like this book even more.

It was a quick, light and fun read. It was never a chore to read, so count that in its favor. This book isn’t the sort that will make you a better person or win you points for name-dropping at a party (well, depends on the party, I suppose), but it’s definitely a lot better than watching another rerun of Family Guy or whatever (not that I don’t enjoy an episode of said show here and there).

Killing Yourself to Live is available at Amazon.

4 responses to “Klosterman’s Killing Yourself to Live, review”

  1. Will.Benham says:

    This was my least favorite of his books, though there were some parts I really enjoyed. I find that, while Klosterman is an engaging and insightful writer, you always end up learning a bit more about him than his actual subject matter. I think his magazine work is significantly stronger, as he is someone who seems to benefit from an editor. He’s been writing for ESPN for the last year or so, and bringing a rather interesting perspective to typically mundane sportswriting. Really, I’m just jealous of him.

  2. adrian says:

    Will, what would you recommend among his books? I’ve been considering picking up another one.

  3. Nathan says:

    Duane died in a motorcycle accident, FYI.

  4. Will.Benham says:

    I really liked Sex, Drugs and Cocoa Puffs. That was what got me into him. Chuck Klosterman IV is good too – though that is just a collection of previously published essays.

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