I generally stay away from trendy magazines like SPIN, for which Chuck Klosterman is a senior editor. However, the more I read about its snarkiness, the more I wanted to read it, and so I found myself biting the bullet and getting it anyway.
Chuck Klosterman’s writing reminds me of a lot of things. His droll self-deprecation and dry wit hearkens to writers like David Rakoff (and to a lesser extent, David Sedaris), but the way in which he takes a seemingly shallow topic (for instance, Pamela Anderson) and ends up spinning a thesis that deals heavily the the abstract and the literary (in this case, he iconifies her as modern sexuality, but in a completely non-specious way), reminds me very much of David Foster Wallace, but without all the footnotes.
He walks a fine line, always, between mocking hyperliterate intellectuals and being one, and it is this, too, that reminds me of Wallace, whose hypocrisy in this regard doesn’t fail to impress me. But Klosterman is a consummate cynic, in relatively stark contrast to Wallace, and his opening essay in Sex, Drugs, and Cocoa Puffs is a lamentation of the culture that has produced unrealistic expectations of romance and relationships (he blames John Cusack and Coldplay). Five years ago, I would have been jumping up and down in empathy, but of course I don’t react so viscerally anymore, though certainly I can agree with much of what he has to say, intellectually.
As genuinely intelligent as Klosterman’s essays are, they’re really more funny than informative, and I think perhaps that’s the point—his prevailing interest seems to be irony, and so it doesn’t fail to escape him that he is writing a “low culture manifesto” in the manner of a scholar (albeit one with a predilection for the word ‘fuck’). From internet pornography (and its general preoccupation with amateurs rather than models) to soccer (he hates it) to tribute bands, Sex, Drugs, and Cocoa Puffs is not only a pleasure to read, but it’s actual pretty damn funny, too. Klosterman has a real talent for mixing the right proportions of humor, intellect, and fluffy rhetoric.