I was a little torn on rating this book, because I really liked a few of the essays, kind of hated a couple, and felt indifferent towards most of the rest. My indifference, however, stemmed mostly from the fact that Klosterman’s pop culture world runs about 5 to 10 years ahead of mine, so much of what he discusses feeling fervently about as a 20 something, I totally missed out on as a pre-teen. But I’m going with 3 stars, because if I could never muster the energy to feel one damn thing about The Real World, I still found his writing style fairly entertaining.
“But whenever I meet dynamic, nonretarded Americans, I notice that they all seem to share a single unifying characteristic: the inability to experience the kind of mind-blowing, transcendent romantic relationship they perceive to be a normal part of living. And someone needs to take the fall for this. So instead of blaming no one for this (which is kind of cowardly) or blaming everyone (which is kind of meaningless), I’m going to blame John Cusack.”
The standout essays I enjoyed: the blaming of John Cusack for…well, just about everything. But primarily Klosterman’s inability to please a woman, or be pleased by one, due to Cusack raising everyone’s bar for romance. I also really liked the essay about country music, which doesn’t really defend its popularity, but does go a long way towards justifying it. I happen to love country music, and I love it for the same reason that Klosterman discusses here: the lyrics tell a story.
A lot of the rest of the book felt like white noise to me because, like I said, I was watching Clarissa Explains It All when Klosterman was absorbing every episode of The Real World. But if your pop culture habits line up more with his, you might get more out of this. Now, I will say that the man comes off as a complete asshole. He reminds me of a Nick Hornby character (more Cusack!). I would definitely not want to sit next to him at a dinner party. But he’s entertaining enough to read.