Reading with the Roost: Fargo Rock City

by Ryan

If you’ve been keeping track of the reading list, I originally said we would be talking about Chuck Klosterman’s third book, Killing Yourself to Live. However, before going on vacation I dropped about $70 bucks in Barnes and Noble. Wrapped in a fantasy football magazine were a few books, including the only Klosterman book I haven’t read, Fargo Rock City.

I begrudgingly bought this book, but only because I wanted to read it so badly. The fact of the matter is that I could have had the hardcover version for about six bucks back when Media Play was going out of business. I dropped the ball, and my wallet paid the price.

ANYWAY, Fargo Rock City was another great effort by Chuck Klosterman, although you can tell it was his first try. He has four books under his belt, but his Metal Odyssey is the first, and the one that started it all. Talking about everything from music videos to proper hair etiquette, Klosterman relives his childhood through the pages of this very engaging work.

What I like best about Klosterman is his writing style, and when I say that I mean he seems to write like me. At the very least, he writes the way I wish I could write all the time. Perhaps I would be a bit less self deprecating, but his blend of conversational tone and philosophical reasoning is something most writers dream of achieving. In reading his other works I’ve come to discover my writing format is much like him: writing nonsense in the middle of the night. However, I do it without all that pot, which may be why I’m not as good.

The truly great thing about Fargo Rock City is that Klosterman is writing about something he loves. Metal was his life growing up, much like watching sports has been the majority of my childhood. Klosterman is truly hurt by insinuations that metal means “nothing”, and sets out to prove that it indeed does. Now I’m no literary critic, but I think he did a pretty good job proving his theses.

That conclusion may only be made because sometimes I imagine myself in a similar predicament. There are many people out there that think sports are worthless, but to me so much of my life is tangled up in it. In a strange way, I have to justify the significance of sports in my life much like he tries to make Metal matter.

My favorite Klosterman book is Killing Yourself to Live, in which he travels the country searching for the answer to a fascinating inquiry: Why is death the best career move any musician can make? In his travels he goes looking for places in which musicians die, trying to understand why it makes an artist’s music so much more “important”. The great thing about the book is that the majority of the time it becomes a reflection upon his own life. Much of his writing becomes about himself, and while some consider this vain, I look at it as a fascinating way to communicate.

There is a chapter where he professes his love of KISS, then completes an extended metaphor that categorizes each member of KISS as a past girlfriend. On the surface that looks really, really crazy. However, isn’t that what we do with sports? In a strange way, us fanatics look at sports in the same way Klosterman looks at and writes about music.

To an extent, what Klosterman does in his books is what we all try to do in our own lives, and certainly what we try to do here. We do not aim to rip Klosterman off, but in every single post we try to explain why sports matter, whether we can or not. Most times we don’t even get close, but the more I write the more I realize that even forming the argument is what matters most.

I guess what I’m trying to say, I mean what I’m asking is, I know we haven’t talked in a while, but you should give Klosterman a try. If there is any writer I could recommend to you in the off season, it would be Chuck. He’ll get you there, I promise.