I’m not a big Chuck Klosterman fan. He’s an okay writer, but he’s devoid of insight or interest, and the people who find meaning or resonance in his work tend, in my opinion, to be pretty vapid. Some of his shorter work is tolerable on its own – I can deal with some of his essays, just not when they’re jammed into a full length book – but it’s unlikely I will ever forgive him for Killing Yourself to Live. And now it’s being made into a movie.
Killing Yourself to Live began life as a Spin magazine article (and a pretty good one, harkening back to the maxim that a little Klosterman goes a long way), where Klosterman traveled the country visiting famous rock death sites. It’s such a cool idea because rock is about two things – sex and death – and so many rock stars have such intriguing death stories.
The idea of blowing that article into a full fledged book seemed like a good one – you could get more rock minutia in there, and as a fan of travel writing*, I had hopes for some wryly observed thoughts on America. But instead Klosterman turned the book into a self-indulgent whine fest about his own relationships, each of which sounds to be about as mediocre as his writing. This is truly a guy who has lived his whole life at half wattage, and the idea that people are excited to consume his tepid stories baffles me.
Now the book is being turned into a movie. Klosterman tells Variety “The idea is to do a comedic road movie heavily based in rock ‘n’ roll,” but he doesn’t explain from where the narrative will come.
In the meantime, if you want to read a book by a rock journalist that successfully ties narcissistic musings to pop music and has a central story that carries some weight and profundity, check out Rob Sheffield’s ode to his late wife, Love Is A Mix Tape: Life and Loss, One Song At A Time.
* go read all of Paul Theroux’s travel books. Now. They’re amazing.