Elevate Difference

Chuck Klosterman IV: A Decade of Curious People and Dangerous Ideas

Chuck Klosterman is a music journalist and pop culture critic known for his quirky theories and extensive knowledge of classic metal. Chuck Klosterman IV is a collection of his previously published work, including features, essays, and a short story.

The features that make up Part I of the book showcase Klosterman’s passion for talking to interesting artists (mostly musicians) and then explaining why they are interesting. Bono is interesting because he lets random fans ride in his car and preview the new U2 album during the interview. Billy Joel spends almost the whole time talking about his trouble meeting women, leading Klosterman to theorize about the downside of being able to write great songs while having relationship problems. In the standout piece, Britney Spears dismisses most of Klosterman’s questions and denies that her success is dependent on her sexuality. Some of Klosterman's other subjects are groups of non-famous but still interesting people, including Latino Morrissey fans in L.A., all-female hard rock cover bands, and goths taking over Disneyland for the day.

Part II includes an assortment of short, humorous musings and theories in the signature style made famous by Klosterman’s book Sex, Drugs, and Cocoa Puffs. He explains the difference between nemeses and archenemies, and how to recognize yours; lists the ten most "accurately rated" (as opposed to "overrated or "underrated") rock bands in history; and documents his quest to watch 24 straight hours of VH1 Classic (which, it turns out, unfortunately repeats material every eight hours). Before each essay, he places a marginally related hypothetical situation. For example, would you rather die without a legacy or be known forever for something "strange and neutral," like General Tso of Chinese chicken fame?

As can be expected of any large collection of works, Chuck Klosterman IV occasionally highlights Klosterman’s weaknesses. I am referring mostly to the forgettable short story that makes up Part III of the book, and to the essay “McDiculous,” a sloppy critique of the movie Super Size Me in which he blindly (and somewhat inexplicably) defends McDonalds and denies that there is any such thing as corporate responsibility. Generally, however, he sticks with what he’s good at – clever and insightful analysis of music and pop culture – and when he’s good, he’s the best at what he does.

Written by: Kiri Oliver, February 16th 2007