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Book Review Revenge

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Woe to the writer who once worked for a newspaper. It just might be their misfortune to have a former colleague write a review of their work. That’s what happened today to Chuck Klosterman, a former music and movie critic for the Akron Beacon Journal, now a senior writer for Spin, sometimes New York Times Sunday Magazine contributor, and author of Sex, Drugs, and Cocoa Puffs. I’m no fan of Klosterman. His reviews for the Beacon Journal were tinged with a grating, smugness that wore thin very quickly. But, his ex-employer obviously has an axe to grind with the guy. First, there’s the headline of the book review:

Ex-area scribe full of himself

Former local reporter is a fine writer, but lost in narcissism in new book.

But that’s nothing, compared to the review itself, which oozes with disdain, not only for the book, but for the man himself:

A dart board with a picture of the back of Chuck Klosterman’s round, red head — a noggin that spawned the self-serving cultural criticisms of his latest book, Sex, Drugs, and Cocoa Puffs — sits above my own cranium, splattered with red and blue darts.

Does he deserve the gesture? I wasn’t sure until I picked up his latest collection of 18 essays (of which maybe two were really worth reading). Now I can safely say “Hand me a dart, sweetie.”

Vengeance is mine, sayeth the reviewer.:

And the single most annoying thing about Klosterman’s watered-down version of postmodern deconstruction is that his autotheism constantly gets in the way of points that are almost worth making.

Authotheism. Ouch. Unfortunately, for Klosterman, the review in the New York Times today isn’t much kinder:

Klosterman is insidious. ”Sex, Drugs, and Cocoa Puffs,” his book of muddled essays on whatever, annoys — it’s sloppy, ingratiating and unnecessary —

….You’re not far into ”Sex, Drugs, and Cocoa Puffs” before it becomes clear that Klosterman’s old rock-happy farm-boy persona has curdled. He’s vain now. He’s surly.

And the ultimate professional-writer put-down:

Klosterman merely throws tantrums, mouthing off like a blogger or a morning D.J. (emphasis mine)


To be fair to Klosterman, there are some people who like him, and his book. And now that Klosterman has made it big and shaken the dust of the Midwest from his shoes, what does he think of his new home?

Life back in Akron felt like the beginning of adulthood; “now that I’m here it’s like being 18 or 19 again,” he says. “It’s like being in college, except people have money.” How is New York different from the Midwest? “Most of the people I meet here are kind of crazy. … Everybody thinks they’re right about everything all the time. Everybody argues and no one’s opinion ever changes, and it’s very acceptable. … It’s like being in a different country.

A country of adolescents. Take that New York Times.

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