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#6 – Sex, Drugs and Cocoa Puffs

May 14, 2007

this is the fascist ex-purgation, the people’s liberation, the teen emancipation, the tintinnabulation; this is the thrilling conversation you’ve been waiting forI’ve never read anything by Chuck Klosterman before this, but I’ve been meaning to for years; everything I’d heard led me to believe that I’d love his books and I’m actually on the waiting list at the library right now for his most recent one, Chuck Klosterman IV. Then I came home the other day and my younger brother had independently picked up Sex, Drugs and Cocoa Puffs: A Low Culture Manifesto to read. So I grabbed it after he was done. His taste is becoming dangerously good.

Now that I’ve finished this one, I can’t believe it took me this long to read Klosterman. Everything I heard was right; his writing is amazing and it seems like every one of my friends would either love to hang out with him or aspires to be him, his writing sounds like conversations that we constantly have. This book consists of 18 “tracks”, essays on various pop culture topics seemingly picked at random, but each discussed with a scary level of expertise and interest. Klosterman is the kind of author who can end a chapter about a Guns N’ Roses tribute band with the phrase “One way or the other, we all use our illusions”, and in another chapter compare Luke Skywalker to himself as an eight-year-old, Tina Turner, Winona Ryder in Reality Bites, and Generation X as an entirety. The only criticism of this book I could possibly offer, he addresses and dismisses in the introduction: “While half of my brain worries that writing about Saved by the Bell and Memento will immediately seem as outdated as a 1983 book about Fantasy Island and Gerry Cooney, my mind’s better half knows that temporality is part of the truth…In and of itself, nothing really matters. What matters is that nothing is ever ‘in and of itself’.” Basically, everyone should read Chuck Klosterman, right now.

Because I’ve got nothing else to say by way of review or recommendation other than “read it”, I want to go into one idea from an essay which is especially interesting coming on the heels of reading Buddhism Without Beliefs. In “Track 13” of Sex, Drugs and Cocoa Puffs, titled “The Awe-Inspiring Beauty of Tom Cruise’s Shattered, Troll-like Face”, Klosterman comes to the defence of the generally reviled Vanilla Sky by discussing it in the context of other movies which also focus on the question of “What is reality?”, such as The Matrix, Waking Life, eXistenZ, Being John Malkovich, and Memento. It’s the Memento discussion which I find especially fascinating. According to Buddhism Without Beliefs, the path to enlightenment requires the ability to be aware of the present moment, without letting the past and future intrude. Klosterman believes that living like this is akin to living like Leonard Shelby from Memento, only aware of life to the extent that you can perceive it at that moment. In his view, ‘Chuck Klosterman’ is defined by his past experiences and his anticipation of the future, and “the present seems useless, because it has no extension beyond my senses”. So, balls to Buddhism, I guess. Now, tell me you’re not utterly compelled to check this guy out.

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3 comments

  1. Told you that you’d love Klosterman. Anyone who spends several pages explaining how Kid A is the perfect post-9/11 album in such detail that he’s pretty much presuming that you’ve heard the album, well, wins a place in my heart.


  2. Your post came up as a WordPress “Possibly related post” in response to something I wrote about Klosterman, and I must say that I think your review of ‘Sex, Drugs, and Cocoa Puffs’ hit the nail on the head. Have you read many of his Esquire articles? They tend to be shorter than the essays for his book, but I really enjoy them as well… another Generation X author that you may like is Douglas Coupland — I would recommend looking into ‘jPod’.


  3. Thanks! I haven’t read his Esquire articles, but I’ll have to check them out – his recent review of Chinese Democracy blew my mind, it was so good.

    You know, I really like Douglas Coupland, but I HATED jPod. I’m not sure why, it was pretty funny, and it felt like his usual writing style, but something about it just didn’t sit right with me at all. I loved Hey Nostradamus! and Girlfriend in a Coma though.



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