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The Mass Media

The Mass Media

The Mass Media

11/27/23 pdf
November 27, 2023

Chuck Klosterman – IV

Chuck Klosterman - IV

Having written about topics ranging from the cultural value of Motley Crue to the impact of faceless werewolves on daily life, columnist Chuck Klosterman has established himself as one of the elite cultural critics of the last half-decade. His literary style has drawn lofty comparisons to the likes of Hunter S. Thompson, and some of Klosterman’s more “out-there” articles are certainly Gonzo in nature. However, Klosterman is more akin to Thompson in his ability to address an audience in a direct, informed manner about ideas both silly and serious. In his fourth book, Klosterman brings together essays taken from his various literary contributions (SPIN/ Esquire/The Believer) that exemplify both natures of his writing.

Chuck Klosterman IV is divided into three sections by the veracity of the subject matter. The first: profiles of cultural figures (musicians, actors, etc) are featured in the “Things That Are True” section along with journalistic entries like “The Amazing McNugget Diet.” Klosterman is at his best deconstructing celebrities like Bono and Val Kilmer. Klosterman understands that the practice of “Celebrity Journalism” is less about the celebrity being interviewed and more about the interview process and what it says about society. His piece on Britney Spears is particularly adept at analyzing the concept of Britney Spears on a cultural level, as opposed to the actual person Spears is, whom Klosterman admits he didn’t get to know at all, if she exists at all. The fact that Klosterman mentions his original draft for the article was edited down by Esquire so they could run more photos of Spears says a lot about what society expects from our popular magazines.

“Things That Might Be True”, the second section contains a series of opinion pieces that display Klosterman’s wit and love of the absurd. Klosterman’s ironic, sometimes elitist voice might rub certain readers the wrong way. However, he is almost always Populist in his opinions, whether disagreeing with the notions of “guilty pleasures” or monogamy. It can occasionally be difficult to determine if Klosterman is serious in his writings, or if some of his essays are one big joke. In the end, it probably doesn’t matter to either the reader or Klosterman.

The final section contains a work of short fiction written by Klosterman before he achieved notoriety on a national level. “You Tell Me” revolves around a character not unlike the real Chuck Klosterman, who experiences an event that couldn’t exist in real life.It is interesting to compare his fiction voice with the voice used in his other books, namely the mostly autobiographical “Killing Yourself To Live.”Klosterman has always put himself first and foremost in his books, and seeing a fictionalized version of him leaves plenty of material for psychoanalysis.

For Klosterman fans familiar with the articles in IV, the selling point of the book will be the short story and the numerous introductions, footnotes, and hypothetical questions that surround the columns. He either gives back story about the essays or reveals some sort of effect they had. For those interested in the way magazine (or newspaper) writing works, it is a revealing look behind the curtain. In the end, Chuck Klosterman IV is a great compendium of one of the most unique voices writing today. And while it might be a little erroneous to declare Klosterman “the new Hunter S. Thompson” (People magazine), he’s certainly not far behind.

Chuck Klosterman Reading

Barnes & Noble / Boston University

660 Beacon Street, Kenmore Square

Monday, September 25 @ 1PM