The Power of a Concept

I recently went through the trilogy of Chuck Klosterman’s books. I fargorock.JPGstarted first with his first book Fargo Rock City: A Heavy Metal Odyssey in Rural North Dakota which is a great discussion of the importance and awesomeness of 80’s Rock. If you’re a fan of the genre this is a great read and it introduces you to Klosterman’s memoir writing style and his lifestyle as a man who boozes almost as much as sits around shooting the shit with friends..

sexdrugscocoacocoapuffs.jpgThe second and most well-know book is Sex Drugs and Cocoa Puffs: A Low Culture Manifesto. This is basically a collection of essays about items in popular culture such as MTV’s The Real World, Saved by The Bell, movies asking the question “What Is Reality?” and other concepts such as The Fonz’s virginity, Lloyd Dobbler’s affect on women, and how newspapers articles actually get written. It’s extremely enjoyable and contains concepts that are thought-provoking and often really funny.

The third book, Killing Yourself to Live: 85% of a Truekillingyourselftolive.jpg Story, is my favorite. It’s a book about Chuck traveling through America visiting places where famous musicians have died (suicide or not). These trips in themselves are not that interesting, so it’s a good thing they don’t make up the majority of the book. The book also includes the three major women in Chuck’s life: one he works with (Quincy), one a gal who he grew up with (college), and the third is a hottie in another city. The content in the books is 1/3 about the women, 1/3 about the dead rock stars, and 1/3 about the trip and his interpretation of pieces in America. Throughout the book Chuck discusses our perception of women and how we deal with them. He argues that we often find ourselves massaging situations in our heads until they are exactly how we want them to be. Often it is the concept of a woman or a dead rock star is much more powerful than the actual reality. This is an idea I can definitely relate to and this book does a fantastic job expressing it.

One metaphor for both the book and Chuck’s life that I thought was worth repeating was in the middle of the book when he’s talking about his work girlfriend (Quincy) and how she likes to listen to the rain when sleeping

The sound of the rain is putting me to sleep, but I want to stay awake and listen to it thwack against the glass. I love a rainy night; perhaps not to the extent of Eddie Rabbitt, but still. There was a time when Quincy couldn’t sleep unless she heard rain: Every night in her apartment, she would put on pajamas and slip one of those hokey “thunderstorm” CD’s into her stereo, and the fake rain would fall for hour and hours on repeat. Even when it was actually raining she would play that ridiculous thunderstorm disc. “This is crazy,” I would say. “This is like bringing a walkman into a rock concert. Let’s just listen to the rain for real.” My arguments always failed. “It’s not the same,” she would say, “The rain doesn’t sound like rain. It’s not rainy enough.” It was never rainy enough.

Amen. In my life when dealing with women, jobs, future, etc. I’m surrounded with plenty of movies, songs, magazine blurbs about how it’s supposed to be. When I actually hit the streets and take it on myself, I can’t help but relate to Quincy completely. Amen sister. You’re right. In this world, sometimes it just isn’t ever rainy enough.

Chuck comes to the same conclusion with rock stars, our memory of them and with his own life and he tells some provoking stories to make this the best of all his books so far. Then again, all three of Chuck’s books are good reads and if you’re heading out on vacation or a trip, you can’t go wrong picking any one of them up.