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CBR4 #38: Sex, Drugs, and Cocoa Puffs: A Low Culture Manfesto by Chuck Klosterman

I suspect that Chuck Klosterman (much like fellow Chuck, Palahniuk) is one of those authors that you either love or hate. Either you love him--because the thoughts that he's writing down mesh perfectly with the things that you have already been thinking, and the conversations he's having are things that you either already discuss or wish you could, and the connections he's making are connections you've either already made or at least understand completely--or you hate him--you find him a whiny first-world hipster who wastes entirely too much time thinking about 90s sitcoms, soft rock, and Axl Rose.

I fall into the first category.

People have been recommending Klosterman to me off and on for years, but somehow I never got around to reading him before. (Sometimes, when a whole bunch of people recommend a book and tell me "Oh, this is SO YOU!" I find that reading the book turns out to be a disappointing experience which just makes me think my friends don't know me very well.) It turns out that he's exactly what I've been looking for in the "non-fiction essay" genre. I mean, I like David Foster Wallace, but he can frankly be a bit heavy for me. Klosterman, on the other hand, is definitely fluff...but well-written, INTERESTING fluff.

The essays in this book run the gamut through pop culture. My particular favorites included his take on how a comparison between Marilyn Monroe and Pamela Anderson is not only apt, but a reflection of the way society has changed since the 1950s, how you are either a Celtics person or a Lakers person and why this influences your world view, and the one documenting his travels with a Guns n' Roses cover band. I found the writing to be both funny and intelligent, and his wide grasp of both pop-culture and general culture remarkable.

To sum up, Chuck Klosterman is like the friend I've always wanted but never had--a sharp, witty misanthrope willing to spend hours eating cereal and discussing the cultural ramifications of Saved By the Bell. As a person who once wrote a paper comparing Hester Prynne and Rizzo from Grease, I can relate totally. If that doesn't sound like your cup of tea, best to just move on to something else.

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