Since Behind the Hype is an L.A.-based website, we don't really believe in having a section for book reviews. Though, from what I can tell about my brief stay in New York, where once people clutched copies of meaningful literature like The Sound and the Fury or Tender is the Night during the 1960s, they now walk around parading copies of The Girl With the Dragon Tattoo and any of the "novels" from the bane of intelligence, Twilight. So New York may be waning in its literary credibility as well. Anyway, with or without a book review section, I feel inclined to speak about a recent reading Chuck Klosterman did at the Union Square Barnes & Noble.
Now, I should give the disclaimer to those who are Klosterman enthusiasts that Klosterman himself makes a living off of commenting on and condemning the latest pop culture trends. That is the job of someone who has a strong and informed opinion on the most important matters in life: Film and music (and for some, including Klosterman, sports). Of late, it appears, Klosterman has lost the panache he had in his previous novels, such as Killing Yourself to Live and, his masterpiece, Sex, Drugs, and Cocoa Puffs (thank fuck he used an Oxford comma in the title).
To quote The Pretenders, "Don't get me wrong," I agree with Klosterman on a great many things, like his hatred of Coldplay and why they are a prime example of why no one can ever be happy in a relationship, his comparison between how time works in Saved by the Bell and in real life, and his assessment of internet porn, but these are all instances extracted from Sex, Drugs, and Cocoa Puffs, which was published seven years ago. In his latest attempt at embracing being typecast as the guy who talks geekily about pop culture, Klosterman maintains none of the clout from his 2003 juggernaut. Eating the Dinosaur is, to be frank, not that good. And to make matters worse, when Simon & Schuster says, "Dance, monkey, dance," Klosterman obliges. That is to say, he added two additional chapters to Eating the Dinosaur, first released in 2009. And this is precisely why he was at Barnes & Noble: To promote the book and its modifications. I don't know if that means sales have been good or bad. The publishing industry is more of a mystery to me than why Christina Hendricks from Mad Men was voted 2010's best looking American woman by Esquire (I still think it's Angelina Jolie).
The questions asked of Klosterman were typically inane and true to form for book readings (i.e. "Have you seen Inception?" or "Do you prefer musical artists with a message as opposed to those who just perform without a social agenda?"). In turn, he seemed to make his answers as close to what he thought people wanted to hear (i.e. he liked Inception and his favorite band is Kiss). But where once Klosterman exuded originality and that rare authorial quality of not giving a shit, he now seems to be clutching desperately to commenting "accurately" on pop culture, the chief example being his newly added chapter about Lady Gaga and the accompanying depreciation of Madonna (a massive faux pas in my book of sins).
It simply seems that, in becoming an unwitting member of pop culture, Klosterman has lost his previous identity as a pop culture commentator. I think he might get it back though, pending a fall from grace and a return to not being so overtly contrived.