|Volume XXIX Issue 8||October 9, 2003|
Need brainfood? Try ‘Sex, Drugs and Cocoa
Tim Rink - Reporter
In his recent book of essays, "Sex, Drugs, and Cocoa Puffs," Chuck Klosterman weighs in on almost every imaginable aspect of American pop culture. Video games, tribute bands, religion, breakfast cereal and Internet porn all work their way on to his agenda. Klosterman’s views are nothing if not extreme, and his responses are littered with profanities; this is not a book for the easily offended. Yet somewhere hidden in the bias, obscenities and logic that just doesn’t quite add up is an entertaining, thought-provoking work that is borderline brilliant.
There are several things that make this book an experience to read. Klosterman’s arguments are sometimes sporadic and flaky. The first chapter of the book, "This is Emo," starts with the words "No woman will ever satisfy me," then morphs into a theory of how and why women love John Cusack, works into a rant about how horrible he thinks Coldplay is, touches on breakfast cereal and "When Harry Met Sally" before revisiting the appeal of John Cusack due to the role of Lloyd Dobber.
The second chapter illustrates the exact opposite of the first. Instead of a critical rambling about several aspects of our culture, Klosterman plays "The Sims" and looks at how they microcosm his own life and are social commentary on the effects of materialism in our lives as a way of staying happy and "keeping score." He manages to do this without getting too preachy, and the entire book feels more like you’re having an argument with an old friend than reading. There will be times reading this book when you will actually try and argue back with the words on the page.
Klosterman doesn’t stop with seamless digression, witty banter and engaging arguments. He has actually had a good time, and he doesn’t mind relating stories of his recklessness in college, in the workplace or as a child. There is an entire chapter devoted to the life of Paradise City, a Guns ‘n Roses tribute band he followed around for a few days. Klosterman paints a picture of tribute rock bands, or at least the better ones, as a legitimate art form instead of just a weak copy of an original band.
In between the chapters, Klosterman writes short rants that are usually almost, but not quite, an indicator of what the next chapter is going to be about. He segues from "The Fonz" to Internet porn, from Johnny Cash to serial killers and from conversation tips to the sex appeal of Pamela Anderson.
The book is also full of revelations that you might not hear anywhere else. For instance, Klosterman states that the Dixie Chicks are the new Pearl Jam. And the 15-year-old boys Pearl Jam used to impress and find devotion from are now the 15-year-old girls of the world. All in all, Klosterman paints a marvelous picture of American culture, raises serious questions about serious issues and still manages to be remarkably entertaining.
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