Chuck Klosterman X by Chuck Klosterman

Chuck Klosterman X

Chuck Klosterman

Chuck Klosterman X is the culmination and celebration of two decades in journalism and books from one of the sharpest and most prolific observers and chroniclers of our unusual times.

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New York Times-bestselling author and cultural critic Chuck Klosterman sorts through the past decade and how we got to now.

Chuck Klosterman has created an incomparable body of work in books, magazines, newspapers, and on the Web. His writing spans the realms of culture and sports, while also addressing interpersonal issues, social quandaries, and ethical boundaries. Klosterman has written nine previous books, helped found and establish Grantland, served as the New York Times Magazine Ethicist, worked on film and television productions, and contributed profiles and essays to outlets such as GQ, EsquireBillboard, The A.V. Club, and The Guardian.

Chuck Klosterman's tenth book (aka Chuck Klosterman X) collects his most intriguing of those pieces, accompanied by fresh introductions and new footnotes throughout. Klosterman presents many of the articles in their original form, featuring previously unpublished passages and digressions. Subjects include Breaking Bad, Lou Reed, zombies, KISS, Jimmy Page, Stephen Malkmus, steroids, Mountain Dew, Chinese Democracy, The Beatles, Jonathan Franzen, Taylor Swift, Tim Tebow, Kobe Bryant, Usain Bolt, Eddie Van Halen, Charlie Brown, the Cleveland Browns, and many more cultural figures and pop phenomena. This is a tour of the past decade from one of the sharpest and most prolific observers of our unusual times.

Advance Galley Reviews

Chuck Klosterman is a blisteringly witty journalist who has written some of the funniest essays I've ever read. If you've followed his work much of 'X' will be familiar to you. If you haven't followed his work, well, perhaps you should start elsewhere to develop an appreciation for him first. I'd recommend 'Sex, Drugs, and Cocoa Puffs.' Much of this book (a collection of Klosterman's favorite writings) see-saws along with the reader's interest in whatever topic the current essay is about. There's no through-line or theme--to be fair, there doesn't have to be--but with such a wide variety of topics he frequently hit ideas I just wasn't interested in. Sometimes I'm not sure Klosterman is a great judge of his own work, either. The reason he likes a piece of his own writing might not have anything to do with actual quality. For example, he introduces an essay about zombies by admitting that he knows nothing about zombie pop culture history--he was just asked to write about zombies after 'The Walking Dead' premiered and this was the result. Sure enough, in the essay he says nothing interesting about zombies or anything that would complicate your current understanding of them. It seems his main admiration of the essay was his own ability to riff on a topic he knew nothing about (you could substitute the word riff with b.s. and it comes out the same way). Much of his writing is also sports-related--a topic I don't personally vibe with. It's interesting when he uses it as a frame to discuss social and economic differences in tribal college basketball in North Dakota, not so to me when he's being more literal. But when Klosterman is on, he's on fire. At the top of his game, Klosterman can't be beaten.

Two Buck Chuck Almost every review I've seen for this book was written by a Klosterman fan who had already read many, most, or all of the included pieces. Writers should have fans, and Klosterman's fans seem to be decent sorts. But what about us, the casual readers. I read this because I've read a few Klosterman pieces and thought he had just the sort of skewed, thoughtful, idiosyncratic, and don't-give-a-damn attitude that can make opinion pieces interesting. Well, this book confirms that he is all that. It also confirms that what interests Chuck Klosterman only interests me intermittently. I'm willing to read pieces about things I'm not really interested in if they are well enough written to grab me and make me read them, and there's some of that here. For example, I never thought I'd ever read quite so much about Jimmy Page or Van Halen. Interest is where you find it, and you never know what will grab you. That may explain why readers will read The New Yorker, Field & Stream, Esquire, ESPN Magazine and Rolling Stone on the same afternoon in the same dentist's office. Anyway, while this is supposed to be a collection focused on "the Early 21st Century" it is much more a collection of pieces that feel like they mine a much earlier period, even if they were technically written in the past decade. Maybe we're trying to establish how prescient Klosterman is or maybe we're just running out of articles, but either way this is an old and mixed bag of chocolates. Put aside the music pieces and most of the sports pieces. Connoisseurs of such articles say they're good and I guess they are. What about the more mixed pieces on popular culture? There are hits, (zombies, why tape delayed sports events are so wrong, the "Tebow thing", why Charlie Brown matters, "accidentally transformative" teen celebrities, a visit to "The McLaughlin Group" ), and misses, (a long piece on nostalgia, a grumpy thing about Harry Potter). For me, the balance tipped a bit to the plus side; you may favor more or less. So, it's an anthology and necessarily a mixed bag. I was happy to get to better know Klosterman's work, I appreciated his sense of craft, and I was entertained or amused or intrigued by a fair number of pieces. That was enough for me. (Please note that I received a free ecopy of this book without a review requirement, or any influence regarding review content should I choose to post a review. Apart from that I have no connection at all to either the author or the publisher of this book.)

I have read some of Chuck Klosterman's stories before and quite enjoyed them so I was looking forward to this book. However, I didn't realize how much of his writing centers around music and sports. He is a good writer and I can tell that he does his research and knows his craft very well.  I'm just not really into sports, which made it hard to understand what he was talking about and thus hard to engage with. In my opinion this book would very much appeal to anyone interested in the subjects he writes about.  Thank you to the Penguin First to Read program for the ARC of "X" by Chuck Klosterman in exchange for my honest review.

A thinking person's reflections on popular culture -- rock music, sports, literature, television, and miscellany -- based on his serious lifelong pursuits of the meaning of it all or, barring that, at least the enjoyment of it. It often feels like a sustained argument from George Carlin (“Somebody at a steak house recently told me that Harry Potter doesn’t die at the seventh book’s conclusion (and that this detail was important), but I wasn’t even aware he was sick."). There are frequent original insights. One of the openers is a meditation on zombies that sheds light on why modern office workers find zombie films repeatably watchable. There's also an unorthodox argument on drug use in sports, a good existential analysis of the Peanuts comic strip, education about bands like Oasis and KISS (including a graded list of the latter's albums), and eventually an extended oddball joke about the Beatles that is more surreal and harder to grasp. Overall, the essays hang together well as a collection, so this album gets an A.

I love and will always love Chuck Klosterman, and particularly his essay collections. While I love this fiction, and his larger philosophical writings, his essays are what he does best. I did however, find this book very sports heavy. Now, I know that is nothing new for Klosterman, and I know that he has spent many of the last few years working for sports publications, but as a non-sports fan, I had no clue what he was talking about some of the time. Either way, the book was enjoyable, and there were some great essays in it. Can't wait to see what he does next.

I've only heard of Klosterman in passing--he's been recommended to me by a friend who's read "But What If We're Wrong?" I expected this collection of essays to grip me the way my friend's description of his other work captured me, and unfortunately, they're just different beasts entirely. I appreciate Klosterman's writing style and I will certainly pick up other books of his some time very soon, but I did find that I wasn't particularly engaged with this subject matter. That said, his approach to sports writing in particular was refreshing to me (not a big sports fan, admittedly) and I did appreciate the insights he includes before each essay in the collection. Like other reviewers have written, fans of sports writing and music writing might find a bit more connection to this book than I did.

I was unfamiliar with Chuck Klosterman's work, but I fall squarely into his target audience. As a fan of music, sports, and pop culture myself, I thoroughly enjoyed Klosterman's "X." This compendium of previously-published articles provides a good overview of Klosterman and the way he thinks. At turns hilarious, insightful, and informative, Klosterman illuminates without condescension and praises without gushing. He comes across as a "regular guy" who just happens to have a national audience. I enjoyed the time I spent with Chuck and his observations, and I look forward to his next release.

I have never read Klosterman before. Since I have no knowledge of and interest in pop music and don't care about sports most of the book did not appeal to me. He has an original view of the world and the articles on other topics were appealing, as well as the article about the junior college basketball team.

I enjoyed the essays contained in this book. The writing is smooth and easy. The only issue that I had was that I found myself not caring terribly about the content. I skipped quite a few and found the fact that they were written 5 to 10 years ago slightly annoying. If you like to read out of date essays, then this is the book for you.

I've always been a big fan of Chuck Klosterman and this collection did not disappoint. It was interesting to read some of the older essays with knowledge of events after the fact. It is a good way for readers to get an overview of his work.

As a long-time Chuck Klosterman fan, this collection of essays didn't bring anything surprising but provided a nice sampling of his work. I don't know that I'd stretch to call it a best-of collection, though I suppose that's fairly subjective. If you haven't read him before, X serves as a good primer, though you'd probably get a better appreciation for his skills by picking up *Sex, Drugs, and Cocoa Puffs* and his more recent *But What If We're Wrong.*

I always enjoy Chuck Klosterman's writing. I may not share his passion for sports, but it's hard not to appreciate how we approaches his writing, he's approaching it all from a more literary style, than reporting style and as a result we get something different, funnier, and deeper out of it. There's a wide range of topics here aside from music and sports, and my only complaint was at times I'd finish a section and go 'another music interview?' but I'd read it and enjoy it anyway. I can't choose one to have cut, but maybe they could have been organized differently. Hilarious as always.

I received this book in exchange for an honest review. I am neither a music or sports fan so I am sure that there are things I've missed in these essays. Those aren't the only topics he covers though. I did find the writing style to be relaxing and easy to read, and despite my ignorance, learned several things about the culture of the times he writes about. It is an engaging anthology that seems relatively formidable when seeing the length of the volume, but makes for fast reading. His take on people and issues is intriguing and kept me turning the pages. This isn't just a collection of articles about issues, but an insight to the thoughts of the author himself and his own worldview. Easy to skip the topics you aren't interested in, but then you miss out on a part of your own history.

I love this guy... His reporting is always fun and quirky.. Highly recommend.

Klosterman is perhaps the only person who could make me care about sports. His dry sense of the absurdity of life permeates all these essays, and while I knew I'd enjoy his takes on pop culture, I thought I'd be skipping the sports essays. But he hooked me! This book is wonderful to dip in & out of, reading an essay or three when you've a moment, or reading a huge chunk at a time. His oddball world view really resonates, at least with this reader.

As someone who is reading Chuck Klosterman for the first time, I will say that I very much like his writing style. He writes in a smart, clear, and almost conversational way that makes his articles very easy to follow, even when the subject is less interesting (to me). This book in particular is a collection of previously published essays, with some notes and introductory materials, on a wide range of topics. The essays I found least compelling were the interviews with musicians and athletes. This is mostly because they are interviews, often presented as such, so there is not much narrative around Klosterman's thoughts going into the interview, or what he thought after the interview finished. Some of the interviews certainly have parts that I liked or found thought-provoking, like Eddie Van Halen's or Taylor Swift's, but that is as much from their responses as anything. The other essays are still on a range of topics, all under the umbrella of pop culture. For me, the best were the essays on TV and the evolution of TV of the past decade or so. Klosterman does a good job not only tracking the changes but also pointing to the possible causes and trajectories that TV might go in the future. He is adept at seeing aspects of culture that many others miss. The essays on sports, while certainly well-written, are simply not my cup of tea. I give him credit for making them accessible to non-sports fans, but at the end of the day one still has to have an interest in sports to care about what Klosterman says here; that isn't me but others obviously have that interest. Overall this is a good way into Klosterman's thinking style and way of viewing the world. The number of topics this collection covers gives a good indication of how he sees the world, and he makes that easier by writing so well. The only downside to covering so many topics is that not every one will be enjoyable to every reader, but so it is.

Klosterman writes mainly about music and sport and all pop culture in between. X is a book of articles previously published by Klosterman that he's re-read and discusses. I've read all of Klosterman's books he has published so a few of these stories were familiar, most were not. I do not however follow sports so all of those articles were new to me. Many of these entries were from magazine articles or introductions to other books he's been included in. Klostermans writing is captivating as ever. The topic never matters, he finds a way to make it relatable and enjoyable. His astute observations make for a great read. Thank you Penguin FtR for the chance to read it.

I really enjoyed this collection of essays. While there were a few that weren't my favorite, I overall learned a lot about some great topics, that while not being essays I would have sought out on my own, ones that I enjoyed nonetheless. The Van Halen, Breaking Bad, Jimmy Page, Taylor Swift, Tim Tebow, Kobe Bryant, Cleveland Browns, and other articles were some of my favorites. I will definitely be seeking out other books by Klosterman

This review will be posted on GoodReads and in the near future! I haven’t read any of Chuck Klosterman’s collections before, despite them hanging on my TBR list for years. When I received an email indicating I could review his soon to be released work, I thought it would be the perfect time to explore Klosterman’s writings. Aside from a GQ profile here and there, I didn’t know much about Klosterman’s favorite topic areas or style. Before reading this, I had no idea that he was also a prolific sports writer or a general culture critic since I had only read his music pieces. This collection is a mix of all of those flavors and because of that, I didn’t feel compelled to read each and every piece, but I did read most – even those that I wouldn’t have initially if I had known the topic area without context. But the contextualizations work and drew me into reading about things that I would have dismissed otherwise. For most of the essays, Klosterman introduced them and describes the time, place, and subject that is captured in the essay. I read each of these introductions and used them to help me determine if I wanted to read a piece even if I thought I wouldn’t have (like the first chapter on an obscure and mostly forgotten junior college basketball game, the piece on Noel Gallagher, the profile of Jonathan Franzen, or an article about attending both Creed and Nickleback concerts in a single evening). Not every piece has this introduction though, which caused me to skip out of the essay if I wasn’t ensnared by the first paragraph. My favorite standalone piece was “Everybody’s Happy When The Wizards Walk By (Or Maybe Not? Maybe They Hate It? Hard To Say, Really,” which is about actively choosing to not engage with a piece of media that is dominating culture (Harry Potter) and the ramifications this may cause, especially for a culture writer. It was also hilarious to read someone discussing Harry Potter, and what they believe the franchise to be, without having read the novels since Harry Potter was a big piece of my life (and my body – shout out to my predictable Harry Potter tattoo). One of my favorite lines in the whole collection was, “Here’s something I wrote in Europe in 2008, when I was pretend depressed” and I can’t even remember which essay that introduced now. The collection closes with a piece on collective mourning over celebrity deaths (specifically the loss of David Bowie and Prince in 2016) and ends with the line “I could not psychologically compete. I could not compete with the collective unreal, so I decided to think about something else.” This seems like a profound statement to end a collection of cultural commentary – like maybe Klosterman is finding himself more disengaged with popular culture than he used to be and feels like it’s time to transition to a new topic, just as he moved from covering death to culture. Because I haven’t read most of his work, I’m not sure if this is on point or not, but it seemed very intentional. We’ll see what’s to come from his future works, but you can count me in as a regular reader. Chapters I skipped: 1) The Light Who Has Lighted the World (Tim Tebow), 2) Liquid Food (Jimmy Page of Led Zeppelin), 3) C’mon Dave, Gimme a Break (Eddie Van Halen of Van Halen), 4) The (Unenthusiastic) Return of the Thin White Duke (Stephen Malkmus of Pavement), 5) User Your Illusion (But Don’t Bench Ginóbli), 6) The Drugs Don’t Work (Actually, They Work Great, 7) Brown Would Be the Color (If I Had a Heart) (Cleveland Browns), 8) Democracy Now! (Guns N’ Roses’ Chinese Democracy album), 9) Metal Machine “Music” (Lou Reed-Metallica Lulu album), 10) Advertising Worked on Me (KISS).

I really like Klosterman's writing. Not enough to seek out and read his essays - but that's because I don't as a rule seek out and read essays - but certainly enough that I will try to read his books as they come out. And this book is an education in pop culture. I learned that Eddie Van Halen never listens to anyone else's - or even his own - music. I learned that somebody named Jonathan Franzen is "the most important living fiction author in America"..."somebody", because I've never heard of him or his books. Less surprising as he was apparently compared with, to his great annoyance, David Foster Wallace. (I see DFW accolades as an Emperor's Clothes Syndrome - his ..."writing" horrible, but the majority of the praise comes from people who blame themselves for not understanding, instead of him for being ...horrible.) And I learned of musical acts I had never heard of. And of peculiarities of sports figures I don't follow. Two words describe best: enlightening and entertaining.


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