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Building on the national bestselling success of Sex, Drugs, and Cocoa Puffs, preeminent pop culture writer Chuck Klosterman unleashes his best book yet—the story of his cross-country tour of sites where rock stars have died and his search for love, excitement, and the meaning of death. For 6,557 miles, Chuck Klosterman thought about dying. He drove a rental car from New Yor Building on the national bestselling success of Sex, Drugs, and Cocoa Puffs, preeminent pop culture writer Chuck Klosterman unleashes his best book yet—the story of his cross-country tour of sites where rock stars have died and his search for love, excitement, and the meaning of death. For 6,557 miles, Chuck Klosterman thought about dying. He drove a rental car from New York to Rhode Island to Georgia to Mississippi to Iowa to Minneapolis to Fargo to Seattle, and he chased death and rock ‘n’ roll all the way. Within the span of twenty-one days, Chuck had three relationships end—one by choice, one by chance, and one by exhaustion. He snorted cocaine in a graveyard. He walked a half-mile through a bean field. A man in Dickinson, North Dakota, explained to him why we have fewer windmills than we used to. He listened to the KISS solo albums and the Rod Stewart box set. At one point, poisonous snakes became involved. The road is hard. From the Chelsea Hotel to the swampland where Lynyrd Skynyrd’s plane went down to the site where Kurt Cobain blew his head off, Chuck explored every brand of rock star demise. He wanted to know why the greatest career move any musician can make is to stop breathing...and what this means for the rest of us.


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Building on the national bestselling success of Sex, Drugs, and Cocoa Puffs, preeminent pop culture writer Chuck Klosterman unleashes his best book yet—the story of his cross-country tour of sites where rock stars have died and his search for love, excitement, and the meaning of death. For 6,557 miles, Chuck Klosterman thought about dying. He drove a rental car from New Yor Building on the national bestselling success of Sex, Drugs, and Cocoa Puffs, preeminent pop culture writer Chuck Klosterman unleashes his best book yet—the story of his cross-country tour of sites where rock stars have died and his search for love, excitement, and the meaning of death. For 6,557 miles, Chuck Klosterman thought about dying. He drove a rental car from New York to Rhode Island to Georgia to Mississippi to Iowa to Minneapolis to Fargo to Seattle, and he chased death and rock ‘n’ roll all the way. Within the span of twenty-one days, Chuck had three relationships end—one by choice, one by chance, and one by exhaustion. He snorted cocaine in a graveyard. He walked a half-mile through a bean field. A man in Dickinson, North Dakota, explained to him why we have fewer windmills than we used to. He listened to the KISS solo albums and the Rod Stewart box set. At one point, poisonous snakes became involved. The road is hard. From the Chelsea Hotel to the swampland where Lynyrd Skynyrd’s plane went down to the site where Kurt Cobain blew his head off, Chuck explored every brand of rock star demise. He wanted to know why the greatest career move any musician can make is to stop breathing...and what this means for the rest of us.

30 review for Killing Yourself to Live: 85% of a True Story

  1. 5 out of 5

    Mike Lindgren

    As a longtime admirer of Chuck Klosterman’s writing on pop music and culture, it pains me to report that his latest book, Killing Yourself to Live: 85% of a True Story, is a dismal, shoddy piece of work. The premise is promising: Klosterman sets out on a cross-country road trip to visit all of the sites of rock ’n’ roll’s long, rich history of death. It seems a brilliant idea — Klosterman’s combination of irreverence and curiosity make him the perfect candidate to unseat the holy-pilgrimage seri As a longtime admirer of Chuck Klosterman’s writing on pop music and culture, it pains me to report that his latest book, Killing Yourself to Live: 85% of a True Story, is a dismal, shoddy piece of work. The premise is promising: Klosterman sets out on a cross-country road trip to visit all of the sites of rock ’n’ roll’s long, rich history of death. It seems a brilliant idea — Klosterman’s combination of irreverence and curiosity make him the perfect candidate to unseat the holy-pilgrimage seriousness (and pathos) of most writing on rock ’n’ roll tragedy. It doesn’t take long for the project to turn sour. Here’s the problem: Klosterman is used to skating by on the wit and originality of his own personal world-view; in his last collection, Sex, Drugs, and Cocoa Puffs, his observations on MTV, pornography, video games, and so on, emerged from a perspective that led him to some surprising conclusions. There was a sense of play, of intellectual gamesmanship, that was fresh and engaging. In Killing Yourself, however, he’s become self-reflexive to the point where he can no longer discriminate between what is valuable and what is piffle; it’s all self-narrative. If he’s looking at something, he thinks his reaction to it — how it affects him — automatically matters simply because it’s him, Chuck Klosterman, looking at it. He has become too lazy and uninterested to make any serious effort at thinking or observing and analyzing what a specific site or incident might mean, and falls back on relaying what it means to him, at that moment. The most devastating element here is the incomprehensible decision to let Klosterman devote much of the book to pseudo-Hornby writhing about the three (!) women with whom he’s currently involved (that is, either sleeping with or wanting to sleep with). Aside from being, at times, downright creepy, it’s both lazy and irrelevant: as smart and funny and interesting as Chuck Klosterman is, I couldn’t really give two shits about his love life. His self-absorption on this count goes so far as to include a chapter-long conversation between the three women and himself that takes place entirely in his head. What’s sad is that he seems to realize this; the book closes with an actual, real-world conversation between the author and one of his female colleagues at Spin, who urges him not to become “the female Elizabeth Wurtzel.” At this point, one tends to agree wholeheartedly with the criticism, and Klosterman’s only retort is to tell her that “her disdain can only be voiced if I do the opposite of what you suggest.” It’s pre-emptive critical damage control. It’s embarrassing. It is unsettling to see how turning Klosterman loose on such a promising theme brings out his worst instincts as a writer, because his feature pieces for Spin are often brilliant. A perfect example was his reporting on the Rock Cruise, one of those only-in-America phenomena wherein 40-year-old couples pay to hear REO Speedwagon and Styx perform on a boat. It is hard to imagine a riper opportunity for superiority and ridicule, yet Klosterman never condescends to these people — working-class Midwesterners who are paying money to see over-the-hill versions of the two of the most reviled bands in rock history — and in the end lends both the bands and fans an odd kind of dignity. It is frustrating to know that the author is capable of such insights and then to slog through 235 pages of crap that wouldn’t make it onto a Weezer B-side. One can only hope Killing Yourself was just something he needed to get out of his system. From THE L MAGAZINE, July 20 2005

  2. 5 out of 5

    AJ Griffin

    ...and Mr. Klosterman and I officially fall in love. If you're going to date me, you should read this book. If you want to learn how to smoke marijuana resin using parts of your car, you should read this. Don't read this book if you have epilepsy. ...and Mr. Klosterman and I officially fall in love. If you're going to date me, you should read this book. If you want to learn how to smoke marijuana resin using parts of your car, you should read this. Don't read this book if you have epilepsy.

  3. 5 out of 5

    Abe Brennan

    Why do we care about Chuck Klosterman? There is nothing truly remarkable about his life. I disagree with 97 percent of what he has to say about music. The way he holds his political cards close to his chest makes me suspicious. And yet, once I start one of his books, I can’t put it down. Killing Yourself to Live is no exception. It takes us on a drug-fueled odyssey across the United States with stops at famous rock and roll death sites (the seedy hotel where Sid Vicious did himself in; the burnt Why do we care about Chuck Klosterman? There is nothing truly remarkable about his life. I disagree with 97 percent of what he has to say about music. The way he holds his political cards close to his chest makes me suspicious. And yet, once I start one of his books, I can’t put it down. Killing Yourself to Live is no exception. It takes us on a drug-fueled odyssey across the United States with stops at famous rock and roll death sites (the seedy hotel where Sid Vicious did himself in; the burnt patch in Rhode Island that used to be a bar where dozens lost their lives thanks to Great White’s trying to re-live their, ahem, glory days; the patch of ground Buddy Holly’s plane collided with; Cobain’s death room, etc.). As is the case with many young-ish writers today (to wit: Sarah Vowell), Klosterman’s book’s stated purpose serves merely as an ostensible vehicle for the author to write about himself, his life, his loves, etc. One might be tempted to write this off as narcissism or myopia, but Klosterman somehow manages to wrest insights into the human condition out of the twisted, emotional menagerie that is his psyche. Yes, he’s self-absorbed, but in such a fashion that his sharing it with us feels like a gift…of sorts.

  4. 4 out of 5

    Melanie

    Bret Easton Ellis on Chuck Klosterman: 'I can't think of a more sheerly likeable writer...big-hearted ....optimistic and amiable'. Not the same Chuck I met on this dead rock star ridden road trip. In the beginning there was Chuck and his admirable road soundtrack - Drive-By-Trucker's Southern Rock Opera and Bowie's Hunky Dory. YEP, we got along fine. The writing was energetic and genuinely funny. Then the incessant pop-culture references, clever to be clever quips and the navel gazing. Partway t Bret Easton Ellis on Chuck Klosterman: 'I can't think of a more sheerly likeable writer...big-hearted ....optimistic and amiable'. Not the same Chuck I met on this dead rock star ridden road trip. In the beginning there was Chuck and his admirable road soundtrack - Drive-By-Trucker's Southern Rock Opera and Bowie's Hunky Dory. YEP, we got along fine. The writing was energetic and genuinely funny. Then the incessant pop-culture references, clever to be clever quips and the navel gazing. Partway through I finally get what the book is actually about. It's about a love. Of course! The love of several (if not many) women and a lonely, sad narcissist who believes Rod Stewart has the best male rock voice. Did he also vaguely imply that Joy Division were Beatles wannabes? WTF? And yet, all bitterness aside there were times when Chuck was so relatable it became frightening to read on. Somewhere under all that 'trying too hard' and jaded wisdom is a decent, entertaining guy with an undeniable love for music (just not the 'sleepy' Blues apparently).

  5. 4 out of 5

    Jessica

    Witty, charming, hilarious and offbeat. Chuck Klosterman feels like the real life personification of Rob from High Fidelity. Eager to read more of his work!

  6. 4 out of 5

    Kim

    Klosterman has a voice like no other. I've never read a book that made me feel so intellectually stimulated. I instantly wanted to tell everyone I knew to read this book so that we could have intellectual conversations about life, death, love. The book is supposed to be about Chuck's journey to find out what makes a rock star a legend when they die early. Not much of the book is dedicated to this topic. It's more of the back-story of the book, not necessarily the thesis of it. There were times w Klosterman has a voice like no other. I've never read a book that made me feel so intellectually stimulated. I instantly wanted to tell everyone I knew to read this book so that we could have intellectual conversations about life, death, love. The book is supposed to be about Chuck's journey to find out what makes a rock star a legend when they die early. Not much of the book is dedicated to this topic. It's more of the back-story of the book, not necessarily the thesis of it. There were times where I got lost in his music references and how they related to things in his life. (I don't know tons about the lives of the members of KISS or Lynyrd Skynyrd) However this didn't take too much away from my appreciation of the book. If anything it made me want to learn more about these bands and their members so that I can have an even deeper appreciation for the book. I cannot express how highly I recommend this book.

  7. 5 out of 5

    Rob

    There's really nothing I could say about this book that would make it sound appealing to anyone other than thirtysomething music nerds. Klosterman – on assignment from Spin magazine – travels cross-country visiting some of music most infamous death sites. In the course of his travels he ruminates on life, love, and KISS. Klosterman's takes on pop culture are unfailingly funny, usually right on the mark, and more often than not reflect things I wish I had said myself. The whole book was like catn There's really nothing I could say about this book that would make it sound appealing to anyone other than thirtysomething music nerds. Klosterman – on assignment from Spin magazine – travels cross-country visiting some of music most infamous death sites. In the course of his travels he ruminates on life, love, and KISS. Klosterman's takes on pop culture are unfailingly funny, usually right on the mark, and more often than not reflect things I wish I had said myself. The whole book was like catnip to me – but then again, I'm a thirtysomething music nerd.

  8. 5 out of 5

    susie

    I wanted this book to be a Sarah Vowell's "Assassination Vacation"-style account of the US history of rock n roll deaths as narrated by the typically witty Chuck Klosterman. That seemed like that's what this book was going to be. BUT IT WAS NOT. RNR history occupies maybe 2% of this book. 3% = talking about how great he thinks Radiohead is, 3% = talking about how great he thinks KISS is, 10% = talking about writing about music for a living and how much he hates the idea of this roadtrip, 30% = b I wanted this book to be a Sarah Vowell's "Assassination Vacation"-style account of the US history of rock n roll deaths as narrated by the typically witty Chuck Klosterman. That seemed like that's what this book was going to be. BUT IT WAS NOT. RNR history occupies maybe 2% of this book. 3% = talking about how great he thinks Radiohead is, 3% = talking about how great he thinks KISS is, 10% = talking about writing about music for a living and how much he hates the idea of this roadtrip, 30% = boring stories about Chuck's ex-girlfriends (seriously "we talked about horses" is a line that is included in this book TWICE), 5% quotable funniness, 47% Chuck gets stoned, alone, and denies he is an addict. I kind of can't see how anybody can complain about two weeks of road tripping. But whatever, Chuck's world is not my world. Additionally, I find it totally disgusting and reprehensible that Klosterman says retarded people are unlikeable. p.120, Chuck's having an imaginary conversation with his ex-girlfriends: " 'What would happen if I stopped being funny? What if I became retarded? What if I stopped listening to you whenever you talk about why you like shopping for boots? How long would it be before you stopped talking to me?' 'That, in a nutshell is why you don't understand what 'Layla' is about,' Quincy would interject. 'Diane brought up qualities that make someone physically unattractive. You are bringing up qualities that make someone unlikable.'... Quincy is making a valid point, if I do say so myself." Where were his editors? Where's the content of this book? I prefer when Chuck sticks to writing about pop culture and NOT his female troubles since he clearly has serious, serious issues with women. (See my review of "Fargo Rock City" for more on that point: http://www.goodreads.com/review/show/... ) Ultimately, the author should have listened to his friend Lucy Chance.

  9. 4 out of 5

    Daria Zeoli

    I am a sucker for pop culture and I like to be entertained. This book fit the bill. And yet, I wish the author didn't come off as such a jerk. Enjoyed the narration and found this audiobook perfect for commuting. I am a sucker for pop culture and I like to be entertained. This book fit the bill. And yet, I wish the author didn't come off as such a jerk. Enjoyed the narration and found this audiobook perfect for commuting.

  10. 4 out of 5

    Lacey

    If my enjoyment of a book can be measured in reading speed, this is one of the most enjoyable books I've read in a long time. I simply couldn't put it down. Now, I may be biased. I think Chuck Klosterman is totally likeable because I think, more than most people I read, he thinks like I think. And I think a lot of people have this private thought when they're reading him. Here is this nerdy guy who throws around pop culture references like sprinkles on the cupcake of his own self-deprecating over If my enjoyment of a book can be measured in reading speed, this is one of the most enjoyable books I've read in a long time. I simply couldn't put it down. Now, I may be biased. I think Chuck Klosterman is totally likeable because I think, more than most people I read, he thinks like I think. And I think a lot of people have this private thought when they're reading him. Here is this nerdy guy who throws around pop culture references like sprinkles on the cupcake of his own self-deprecating over-analyzing sadness. And frankly, I think we all feel that way sometimes. But I can also see how other people might not like Klosterman. And the book isn't perfect. It moves around a lot, inserts references that aren't always clear, but thats part of its charm. Its like Klosterman wrote a particularly funny diary for us about this road trip he went on and reading it made everyone feel a little better about the times they can be a little self-absorbed or monomaniacal or just plain bad at communication. Klosterman is a reflection of all of us at our most earnest and sometimes most awkward. Now, this book is ostensibly about rock star death but I really think its about the death of one's self throughout life. How certain chapters have to be closed in order for new one's to be started. On this theme, Klosterman is poignant and heartfelt, in his own way, and it really is what makes the book so worthwhile. This book, as well as Klosterman in general, comes highly recommended. And when you read it, and fall in love with it, be sure to feel super envious of my autographed copy.

  11. 4 out of 5

    Yash Sinojia

    I'm really glad that I went through this in this particular phase of my life. It mainly revolves around punk rock and death but it also has several intertwined romance plots too, which constitute equal interests. I also enjoyed it as a travel memoir, meeting people and contemplating death and music as we've always strived to understand it with our own romantic frustrations and yet so romantic. I don't agree about everything Chuck says, but I believe that he has a fascinating and erudite perspect I'm really glad that I went through this in this particular phase of my life. It mainly revolves around punk rock and death but it also has several intertwined romance plots too, which constitute equal interests. I also enjoyed it as a travel memoir, meeting people and contemplating death and music as we've always strived to understand it with our own romantic frustrations and yet so romantic. I don't agree about everything Chuck says, but I believe that he has a fascinating and erudite perspective of whatever he talks about. And this work consists of a plethora of criticism about labels and quite interesting films too. Overall, I believe Chuck to be a fine rock critic, although I don't always agree with his ratings. Well, I was in a heavy metal phase but now I feel like diverting to Audioslave and Alice in Chains.

  12. 5 out of 5

    Adonica

    Fun listening to a local boy and hearing about his "tour!" Fun listening to a local boy and hearing about his "tour!"

  13. 5 out of 5

    Maya Mudambi

    I LOVED THIS!!!!!

  14. 4 out of 5

    William Thomas

    When judging Klosterman's work, what you're really doing is judging Klosterman. And yes, I say judging on purpose. Not criticizing. Because that would call for an in-depth assessment of a valuable work instead of a moral appraisal of the man behind the book. And I am judging him harshly in this book. What was recommended to me as a great "road trip book" soon seemed like a chore, drudging through all of his pop culture references and insipid bullshit about his own life history. Like climbing up When judging Klosterman's work, what you're really doing is judging Klosterman. And yes, I say judging on purpose. Not criticizing. Because that would call for an in-depth assessment of a valuable work instead of a moral appraisal of the man behind the book. And I am judging him harshly in this book. What was recommended to me as a great "road trip book" soon seemed like a chore, drudging through all of his pop culture references and insipid bullshit about his own life history. Like climbing up sand dunes, hard going and calf muscles burning, trying to find the oasis, but when you get over the ridge- there's more sand. And not a drop of water in sight. Only, it's more like a landfill. Yeah, a landfill, not sand. And you're climbing through everyone else's shit to try and find one salvageable piece of shit in the pile. So here we are again listening to Klosterman, who it becomes more and more apparent isn't Mark Spitz. And I admit, I enjoyed some of Klosterman's other collections of essays because sometimes I am in the mood for his smarmy, spiteful, silly little shit-head takes on the world at large filtered through music and pop culture references. It's his bulwark and I understand that because the real world is too tough for him to deal with outside of the buffer of imagined connections and metaphors in the music, movies and books he reads. And that really is the crux of Klosterman- he hides behind these things. Instead of making an honest assessment of life and his surroundings, he uses this sleight of hand in his pop culture internalizing to beat it back and not deal with it in any meaningful way. But we are supposed to think that he is thinking very deeply about his life and the world at large in regard and respect to pop culture. But he isn't. What little he does bring away from these analyses may seem deep but are rehearsed and forced. Making ontological connections from bad arguments. So, in this, he connects even less to the pop culture he reveres and idolizes, and moves instead to make an even bigger pile of shit in this landfill I'll very loosely call "his work". What this book is is a big heap of facts and rumors associated with different rock bands and their dead members. And intersperesed are pieces about his life that may or may not be true but which, in the end, matter very little. And that is the crux of this book. A big pile of crap you could have gathered off of wiki sites and wrapped around your own personal experiences. There is nothing really to take away except the petty gossip. So read it and get your fill of water cooler bullshit.

  15. 5 out of 5

    Alex V.

    I got a comment on an article once that said "Fuck Chuck Klostermand and his bullshit intellectualism, Cook is the new crown prince of music journalism" and who am I to disagree with SeductiveBarry's astute assessment? Ever since then, though, I've had a weird rivalry with Chuck Klosterman that, much like the romances exacted and protracted in this book, is completely one sided with myself as the hopeless loser, so outclassed that my opponent is likely unaware there is even a contest going on. I I got a comment on an article once that said "Fuck Chuck Klostermand and his bullshit intellectualism, Cook is the new crown prince of music journalism" and who am I to disagree with SeductiveBarry's astute assessment? Ever since then, though, I've had a weird rivalry with Chuck Klosterman that, much like the romances exacted and protracted in this book, is completely one sided with myself as the hopeless loser, so outclassed that my opponent is likely unaware there is even a contest going on. I read this book in spurts over the last 6 months, basically a chapter or two every time I found myself at the bookstore for an extended period of time which has allowed me to slowly digest what is wrong with it: 1) For a critic, he has rather pedestrian tastes in music. His insight is honest and dead-on, but his subject matter generally seems undeserving of the pedestal he erects. 2) This book is near wholesale rip-off of Ross McElwee's rather singular film Sherman's March, which came out 20 years before this book. Both follow through on a preposterous, dubious quest (Klosterman visits the sites of rock star deaths, McElwee retraces Sherman's march to Atlanta) only to use it as a vehicle for visiting old girlfriends and then sitting in hotel rooms reminiscing about them. But that is excusable, in that anyone with a soul and any creative talent wants to do their own Sherman's March after seeing it. McElwee is more insightful, but Klosterman is funnier and ultimately more human in the end. What's right about it is more important: 1) He is funny as hell, up there with David Sedaris and John Waters as the funniest modern writers talking about their art/selves. 2) This book makes me want to write more, and write more about writing, and then write more about that unafraid of how meta one can go before one finally implodes. I wanted to tear through the ending so I could write this. but, most of all 3) He can project his heart with pinpoint accuracy on the reader. You fall in love with these woman that you feel you fail to know very well in the same way he fails to know them. He can make a Beckett scene out of being stoned in a Montana hotel laundromat and classical literature out of Def Lepperd . 4) He's a good enough writer that he made me write this in pathetic mimicry of the tone of the book.

  16. 5 out of 5

    Susie Delaney

    This was a quick read and appealed to my music nerd side. Minus one star for being a typical douchey boyfriend type.

  17. 4 out of 5

    Anna Bond

    Once again, Chuck Klosterman reveals himself to be a boring, self-centered paragon of bad taste with horrible ideas about the relations between the sexes. Why do I keep reading him? The only really interesting chapter revolves around the Great White concert fire, revealing the poignancy of the men who lost friends and brothers at the show. I just wish that he would go as far as he thinks he's going into genuine critique of cultural elitism and how callously it allows us to treat each other. Many Once again, Chuck Klosterman reveals himself to be a boring, self-centered paragon of bad taste with horrible ideas about the relations between the sexes. Why do I keep reading him? The only really interesting chapter revolves around the Great White concert fire, revealing the poignancy of the men who lost friends and brothers at the show. I just wish that he would go as far as he thinks he's going into genuine critique of cultural elitism and how callously it allows us to treat each other. Many considered the Great White concert tragedy a joke because the band itself are seen as only beloved by "white trash" or "rednecks" - not the culturally aware - even subhuman. (A crowd-crushing fatality at a Smashing Pumpins concert a few years ago was treated with shocking cruelty by some of my fellows in the music industry for the same reason.) Klosterman hints at condemning this attitude but, perhaps realizing the extent his readership belong to the callous "elite" group, shies away. Classic Klosterman sexism abounds here as well. Do most guys actually think that putting women on a pedestal of otherness accomplishes anything positive? So tiresome. Also classic Klosterman: boring-ass prose. His popularity makes me sad.

  18. 4 out of 5

    Katherine Furman

    Chuck Klosterman is an engaging writer--easy to understand, explicit, and simplistic. But he's also a pretentious rock critic who basically threw together a book from the a lackluster journal that was published solely on the coattails of the success of his earlier book, Sex, Drugs, and Cocoa Puffs. The premise of is that Chuck is going to travel to famous sites across America where rock 'n roll related deaths occurred: the Great White club fire, the crossroads where Duane Allman died on his mot Chuck Klosterman is an engaging writer--easy to understand, explicit, and simplistic. But he's also a pretentious rock critic who basically threw together a book from the a lackluster journal that was published solely on the coattails of the success of his earlier book, Sex, Drugs, and Cocoa Puffs. The premise of is that Chuck is going to travel to famous sites across America where rock 'n roll related deaths occurred: the Great White club fire, the crossroads where Duane Allman died on his motorcycle, that kind of stuff. And while that stuff is in there, it is almost a footnote. The book is predominantly the author pining over his lost and unrequited loves. His egotism and self-deprecation in order to avoid sounding egotistical was too much to take. Even his initial description of how he came to go on this ambulance chasing road trip smacked of egotism and affectations. He and his tall, thin, gorgeous editor at Spin think he should something "epic," yeah, really epic, but what's epic? What does it mean to be epic? Right then and there I wanted to start a small, yet epic fire in my wastebasket.

  19. 4 out of 5

    Amanda

    I just finished this book and I think a more accurate title for it would be "To all the manic pixie dream girls I've loved before". The idea of driving across America to visit its most famous rock 'n roll death sites is interesting but it doesn't feel to me as if this author had the maturity or insight to really do the subject matter justice- the majority of the book consists of the author's narcissistic and adolescent rambling about his various boring relationships and encounters with women, no I just finished this book and I think a more accurate title for it would be "To all the manic pixie dream girls I've loved before". The idea of driving across America to visit its most famous rock 'n roll death sites is interesting but it doesn't feel to me as if this author had the maturity or insight to really do the subject matter justice- the majority of the book consists of the author's narcissistic and adolescent rambling about his various boring relationships and encounters with women, none of whom seem very real. This is a well written but ultimately a lazy, shallow and unrewarding book.

  20. 4 out of 5

    Krista

    Somewhere, at some point, somehow, somebody decided that death equals credibility. I read Sex, Drugs, and Cocoa Puffs when it first came out, and even though that has lingered in my mind for a decade now as a funny and interesting skewering of pop culture, I didn't pick up another Chuck Klosterman book until now; and I think it would have been better if I had let him remain in my memory as a funny and interesting guy. Finishing Killing Yourself to Live, I can only report that this book felt f Somewhere, at some point, somehow, somebody decided that death equals credibility. I read Sex, Drugs, and Cocoa Puffs when it first came out, and even though that has lingered in my mind for a decade now as a funny and interesting skewering of pop culture, I didn't pick up another Chuck Klosterman book until now; and I think it would have been better if I had let him remain in my memory as a funny and interesting guy. Finishing Killing Yourself to Live, I can only report that this book felt forced and pointless, and even if Klosterman went on to write the next big thing, I don't know if I feel like giving him another chance. Maybe in another ten years. The concept: Klosterman's editor at Spin magazine decides that he should write something epic, and she sends him on a road trip to the sites of famous Rock and Roll deaths, despite the fact that he hates driving, has contempt for sightseeing, and doesn't care very much about these particular dead rockers. The article that resulted from the trip was reprinted in August of 2015 (as part of Spin's 30th anniversary year), and Klosterman felt the need to add an introduction: This is the piece that (eventually) became the skeletal structure for Killing Yourself to Live, a book some people love and many people hate. The principal reason certain readers dislike that book is that they feel betrayed — they go into the process assuming it’s going to be about the locations where rock musicians died, and that’s not the point. Killing Yourself to Live is a memoir about all the spaces in between, and the relationship between the past and the present and the imagined. Thematically, it’s totally different from this original story, which is only about the places I visited (as opposed to how I got there). So, what actually happens in the book is that Klosterman drives to the various sites of crashes, ODs, and suicides, overtly searches for something metaphorical to tie these sites to higher truths, and arranges the road trip so that he can visit his family back in Minnesota and spend time with the three great loves of his life, scattered as they are across the country. He is so focused on these three women that he includes a longish imagined scene in which he is having an argument with all three of them in the car; each of them explaining why he's incapable of an authentic relationship; Klosterman himself getting the last word; of course. (And I suppose this is what he means by the book being about “the relationship between the past and the present and the imagined”?) In the end, he realises that these women explain his abiding love for KISS as they (and another, older, woman to whom he lost his virginity in college) represent the founding members of the “discometal” band, and he's able to extend the metaphor by explaining how every other woman he's had a relationship with is just like one of the other, temporary, members of KISS; including a one night stand that can be perfectly represented by Anton Fig (of Letterman's Late Show band) who sat in on one KISS track. Does that seem deep or even interesting to the average reader? Because that's the climax of his thought process here. As a rock critic, Klosterman has expectedly strong opinions on music that he's not afraid to state as fact (Elvis only had one good song; Rod Stewart had the greatest male rock voice of all times; Eric Clapton was incredibly boring and a mediocre guitar player), and while he annoyed me with every reference to obscure bands, there were a few pearls in the muck (and I don't regret Googling “Camel Walk” by Southern Culture On The Skids; that's pure fun.) And I know that the subtitle of this book is “85% of a True Story”, but whether the following actually happened or not, it felt too cutesy to have included: Flipping back and forth on the car radio between an “80s Retro Weekend” and an uber-conventional classic-rock station, I hear the following three songs in sequence: “Mr. Roboto”, “Jumpin' Jack Flash”, and a popular ballad from the defunct hair-metal band Extreme. Well, that settles it: Styx and Stones may break my bones but “More Than Words” will never hurt me. And I know my final complaint makes me look totally square – as I am, after all – but I could have done without all the drug use in this book. After explaining that the office of Spin magazine divides itself into the cocaine camp and the marijuana camp (Klosterman is in the latter and thinks of himself as superior for it), he's happy to do a few bumps of coke off his car key when it's offered to him at the site of the Great White tragedy; despite explaining that pot is nonaddictive, Klosterman outlines how to get a decent (and desperately wanted) high off of the “shake” in the bottom of his baggy with a car lighter and a plastic straw from the hotel lounge. And the following scene (a recounting of his only bad drug experience) reads like the medical report from a Rock and Roll overdose: Having never taken Dexedrine before, I expected big things; unfortunately nothing happened. And since I was drinking beer quite heavily at this party, I decided to take two Ritalins as well. After I swallowed the Ritalin, the host of the party began serving some kind of elaborate rum punch, of which I consumed several glasses. Around midnight, a woman named Sharon showed up, and she told me she had a great deal of cocaine in her purse; not surprisingly, a few of us went into the bathroom and did rails of coke every twenty minutes for the next three hours. I also switched over to brandy and ginger ale, ostensibly so I'd be better at arguing. At 3:00 AM, someone decided we all needed to chill out, so everyone who was still partying stood around the kitchen and smoked four bowls of dope. This was only a “bad” experience because the coke left him depressed, the pot wouldn't let him fall asleep, and he was so dehydrated from the booze that his legs cramped up and he couldn't even cry about it. Yes, yes, I'm square, but a chapter like this doesn't make me say, “Right on dude, you so know how to party!”, it makes me say, “What a loser this guy is, mixing chemicals like DuPont.” I don't tend toward judging people who use recreational drugs (we're not talking about heroin or meth here), and I especially don't tend to judge people who write about drug use in books, but something about the way that Klosterman casually wrote about his frequent attempts to get high (while on the road, alone) seemed like he was daring the reader to react negatively; and I did. In the end, I can understand why even Klosterman himself acknowledges that this is “a book some people love and many people hate”; and it's not because it's not the book I expected it to be: when he removed the point of it being about visiting the sites of rock deaths, Klosterman wasn't left with much of a point at all.

  21. 5 out of 5

    Morgue Anne

    I am going to start this review by saying that Chuck's friend was right. He shouldn't have published this book. I picked it up (or, rather, was given) thinking that it would be an exploration of sites where dead rockers perished. Growing up in Seattle, I was bred with an intense love of Kurt Cobain. Growing up goth, I have an intense love of death. So this book would have been a LOT better in my mind if it had either a) Actually talked more about dead rock stars or b) Been a little clearer that I am going to start this review by saying that Chuck's friend was right. He shouldn't have published this book. I picked it up (or, rather, was given) thinking that it would be an exploration of sites where dead rockers perished. Growing up in Seattle, I was bred with an intense love of Kurt Cobain. Growing up goth, I have an intense love of death. So this book would have been a LOT better in my mind if it had either a) Actually talked more about dead rock stars or b) Been a little clearer that this book had nothing to do with dead rock stars. I spend the whole 250 or so pages listening to a man complain because he's getting too much tail. True, he is very quotable at times and brings up some valid points about god, infidelity, and the like, but other than that, he just whined for thousands of miles about how his girlfriends were like KISS. Maybe worth a read if you're a liberal arts major who watches Wes Anderson movies and thinks Ed Hardy is the most amazing form of popular art the fashion world has ever seen. This book should be on "Stuff White People Like". Book 20/150

  22. 5 out of 5

    Feisty Harriet

    I have loved some of Klosterman's writing, but this book is really not for me. It's about Chuck spending 5 weeks driving around the country, mostly by himself, locating the places where famous rock musicians have died. And he has some tremendous one-liners thrown in there, but Chuck and I don't care for the same music, and I just never really got into his chapter after chapter of how this or that song/album/group moved him, and his thoughts on how/where that person died. If you are a serious mus I have loved some of Klosterman's writing, but this book is really not for me. It's about Chuck spending 5 weeks driving around the country, mostly by himself, locating the places where famous rock musicians have died. And he has some tremendous one-liners thrown in there, but Chuck and I don't care for the same music, and I just never really got into his chapter after chapter of how this or that song/album/group moved him, and his thoughts on how/where that person died. If you are a serious music fiend, this is totally for you.

  23. 4 out of 5

    Koren

    This sounded pretty good. The author goes on a road trip in search of actual places that famous rock musicians died. He is a writer for Spin Magazine. If this was actually what the book was about I think it would have been interesting but he barely touches on his destinations and instead reverts to whining about the lost loves of his life and everything else that sucks in his life. He also frequently gives his opinion about music and musicians, most of whom I have never heard of. He tries to be This sounded pretty good. The author goes on a road trip in search of actual places that famous rock musicians died. He is a writer for Spin Magazine. If this was actually what the book was about I think it would have been interesting but he barely touches on his destinations and instead reverts to whining about the lost loves of his life and everything else that sucks in his life. He also frequently gives his opinion about music and musicians, most of whom I have never heard of. He tries to be humorous but it falls flat for me because so much of what he writes about is depressing or whining. Interesting concept for a book. I just think it could have been done better.

  24. 4 out of 5

    Susnnah Metzler

    Yay. I'm FINALLY done. Yay. I'm FINALLY done.

  25. 5 out of 5

    Kate Buechler

    My favorite part was the bit at the end where the lady discouraged the author from writing the book.

  26. 4 out of 5

    Carolyn Krech

    I made it 1/3 of the way through it and couldn't read any further. This book contained the ramblings and random stories of a man on a road trip that seemed to go nowhere. I made it 1/3 of the way through it and couldn't read any further. This book contained the ramblings and random stories of a man on a road trip that seemed to go nowhere.

  27. 4 out of 5

    Katie Kegel

    Imagine a 200 page inside joke that you don’t understand. Imagine a whole book where the only purpose seems to be the author trying to show how cool he is by name dropping CDs. Imagine a book that should be about the interesting and potentially life changing cross country trip to see where musicians died but never actually manages to be either. The one thing I liked was the dinner scene with his family. For a moment it captured a truly Midwest experience. For that, 2-stars.

  28. 4 out of 5

    Tung

    As I wrote in my review of Sex, Drugs, and Cocoa Puffs, Klosterman is the poster child for postmodern American writers. His knowledge and usage of pop culture in his writing should resonate with me. Unfortunately, he makes a lot of general statements as if they are fact rather than opinion, and many of his allusions are too obscure, as if the more obscure the reference, the smarter he seems. Unlike Sex, Drugs, and Cocoa Puffs which was a collection of unrelated essays, Killing Yourself to Live i As I wrote in my review of Sex, Drugs, and Cocoa Puffs, Klosterman is the poster child for postmodern American writers. His knowledge and usage of pop culture in his writing should resonate with me. Unfortunately, he makes a lot of general statements as if they are fact rather than opinion, and many of his allusions are too obscure, as if the more obscure the reference, the smarter he seems. Unlike Sex, Drugs, and Cocoa Puffs which was a collection of unrelated essays, Killing Yourself to Live is a singular work. Klosterman is instructed by his editors at Spin to travel across the country by car visiting the places where tragedies related to musicians occurred (beginning at the hotel where Sid Vicious killed Nancy Spungen, and moving to places like the venue where the Great White conflagration happened and ending in Seattle where Kurt Cobain shot himself). He documents his road trip by describing how the sites made him feel, and including conversations he has with fellow pilgrims and how they feel. Klosterman also interweaves some of his thoughts and feelings from several of his real-life relationships (a woman he is currently dating, and several from his past) into his narrative on what his journey is teaching him about life (and love) and death. Overall, it’s a much more focused and compelling read than Sex, Drugs, and Cocoa Puffs because the subject matter is deeper, and his usage of his relationships adds a level of humanity and emotion to the narrative. On the other hand, most of his writing tics still annoyed me – like the inclusion of random tangents of his opinion. For example, he spends two pages trying to convince the reader that Radiohead’s Kid A album was a foretelling of 9/11. There’s also too much self-awareness and awareness of his self-awareness – like a scene where he has an imaginary conversation with his current girlfriend and two former ones, and the imaginary voices remind him he is having this imaginary conversation. Screw you, Dave Eggers, for affecting modern nonfiction writing in this way. Fans of music and fans of Klosterman’s writing style will enjoy this, I think. For others, it’s a quick and mostly solid read with minor annoyances. Recommended.

  29. 5 out of 5

    Ashley

    If you want to learn about dead musicians and how they died, look elsewhere. 1/3 Into this book and I still haven't learned a thing. The title of this book should be My Boring Life - it is all irrelevant rambles on the author's friends, relationships, drug use, and work. I decided to pull the plug during a part in the book where he says, "I wonder how long it would take someone to find me if I died on top of this hill and who would care. Tommy would call Billy who would call Timmy would call Suz If you want to learn about dead musicians and how they died, look elsewhere. 1/3 Into this book and I still haven't learned a thing. The title of this book should be My Boring Life - it is all irrelevant rambles on the author's friends, relationships, drug use, and work. I decided to pull the plug during a part in the book where he says, "I wonder how long it would take someone to find me if I died on top of this hill and who would care. Tommy would call Billy who would call Timmy would call Suzy who would call..." STFU

  30. 5 out of 5

    Libscigrl

    Made it to page 54 before I felt like I just might throw this book into a dumpster. I can't understand someone who is fascinated and in awe of an author who wrote about what music she'd listen to if she ever was brave enough to slit her wrists and bleed to death to, and yet finds no majesty, beauty or history in seeing the Washington Monument (or any monument in DC) or the Grand Canyon. He finds these "things" pointless, but music-to-suicide-to worth writing an entire chapter about. No thanks. Made it to page 54 before I felt like I just might throw this book into a dumpster. I can't understand someone who is fascinated and in awe of an author who wrote about what music she'd listen to if she ever was brave enough to slit her wrists and bleed to death to, and yet finds no majesty, beauty or history in seeing the Washington Monument (or any monument in DC) or the Grand Canyon. He finds these "things" pointless, but music-to-suicide-to worth writing an entire chapter about. No thanks.

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