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Klosterman’s truth is stranger than fiction

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MollyThere was a stretch of time my sophomore year when I watched too much reality television. I’d mindlessly absorb reruns of Bravo’s TV’s “The Work Out” — remember that one? The show about a flashy gym in L.A. where personal trainers had affairs with one another and spent more time toning their abs than they did sleeping?

This could also be called crap. So in a fit of self-awareness and self-loathing, I turned off the television and walked upstairs, two at a time, to a friend’s room for a book. I wanted to detox. I needed to read.

I walked out with Chuck Klosterman’s “Killing Yourself to Live: 85% of a True Story.” It was the best book I could have grabbed at random. Ironically, the man who knows everything right and wrong about pop culture wrote that book, detailing his cross-country road trip visiting landmarks where rockstars died. It was the perfect antidote to my overconsumption of bad entertainment.

Klosterman is a mastermind of pop cultural commentary. He also has roots in the Midwest. He was born in Minnesota, attended college in North Dakota and worked as a journalist in Fargo before moving to New York City. He’s the author of six books and a columnist for Esquire.

He can write essays about “The Real World,” Pamela Anderson, and Goth festivals at Disney World and spin them into genius musings.

Hell, he could write about a cinder block and change your life.

The good news is he’s got a new book of essays coming out on Oct. 20. According to the publisher’s Web site, “Eating the Dinosaur” includes Klosterman’s pop cultural explorations of topics such as “Mad Men,” Rivers Cuomo, and why music fans inevitably hate their favorite band’s latest album.

The larger theme, because there’s always a larger theme, is how the fake “reality” that the media fabricates ends up being more meaningful than what really happens.

I cannot wait to read this.

“Midnight Owl” was Klosterman’s first fictional novel in 2008. It was good since the guy really knows how to put together a sentence or two, but it wasn’t the same as reading about his time spent hanging out with Jeff Tweedy of Wilco.

This isn’t because he’s only cool when he’s writing about celebrities. It’s because his take on reality is still better than some of the best fiction out there.

Reading Klosterman is like sitting at a diner at 3 a.m. with that friend who can talk about anything and breathe this new, weird life into it. You don’t glance at the clock or check if the waitress is coming with your check. No, you’re thoroughly engaged in whatever your crazy diner friend has to say, whether it’s about sports, music, television, road trips, or leather pants. It’s a completely fulfilling conversation without God, politics or the meaning of life ever being tossed into the mix.

Seems like there’s been an extraordinary amount of crazy pop cultural happenings lately, and I’m glad Klosterman is back with his essays to make sense of it all.

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