Here’s a confession: I did not read Chuck Klosterman’s entire book Eating the Dinosaur. This slighting came with his permission, nay, his insistence.
Klosterman busts through the fourth wall in his essay about football to suggest that if you aren’t into football, you can jump this chapter: ” … I will understand if you skip to the next essay, which is about ABBA.” And if a reader hangs around a bit longer, thinking, perhaps, “Meh. Who cares. He’ll probably say something about Britney Spears in here somewhere,” Klosterman? stops the bus and holds open the door once again:
“If you’d still rather get to the shit about ABBA, you should go there now.”
Friends, I went to the ABBA.
Klosterman’s most-recent compilation of essays includes comparisons between David Koresh and Kurt Cobain, the mislaid career of a once-great athlete, and why observing his longtime neighbor through her window was never really interesting. He talks about why Weezer fans never appreciate Weezer albums, Twitter, and the Unibomber.
It is all done with Klosterman’s patented template. He seems to randomly draws two topics out of a hat, finds a way to weave them together, then throws in an opinion on why an intelligent, shape-shifting metal is more believable in “Terminator” than time travel.? Sometimes it’s smart and makes you think about, say, authenticity.? Sometimes it makes you shudder and think “Dear sweet gentle Jesus, don’t ever let me get stuck in an elevator with this man.”
This book is fine. There is not a lot that differs from any of his other books — post Fargo Rock City — including the ones that are fiction or first cousins of fiction. Sometimes this is fine. I like Klosterman and plan to continue to read everything he publishes in book form. It’s like always ordering the wild rice burger and beer battered fries from the Brewhouse. It tastes good, but it doesn’t come with a hell of a lot of surprises. Sometimes it feels like Klosterman could be more something. “Funny” is one word that comes to mind. “Spontaneous” is another.
This is what it is like to read one of Chuck Klosterman’s compilations of nonfiction essays: It is like being on vacation in a small town in a weird state and seeing some guy wearing a T-shirt with the name of your favorite dive bar printed on the front. It’s like “Oh! You’ve been to Dick’s Crab Shack! We go there all the time!” Except in this metaphor, the T-shirt is Klosterman’s pop culture references. There you are in a mess of words that may or may not interest you and he mentions something you like or remember liking. “Saved by the Bell,” or “WKRP in Cincinnati.” So you nod and keep reading. And these driblets make me like him.
At one point while I was reading this book, Klosterman mentioned Matt Dillon and the band Was Not Was (although the song “Walk the Dinosaur” this has nothing to do with the title) within a few pages of each other. Both of these topics had come up in a conversation I’d had with my boyfriend earlier in the day.
I can’t tell if this means we are all psychically linked, or if it just means that Klosterman talks about everything in the world at least once.