Kings high praise came in response to Klostermans debut book, the hilarious “Fargo Rock City: A Heavy Metal Odyssey in Rural North Dakota.“ A memoir about growing up as a repressed metalhead in the heartlands, it gave readers a preview of what we could look forward to from the author, who went on to be an entertainment critic for Ohios Akron Beacon Journal.
Now, after a bit of a wait, his sophomore effort is hot off the presses this week. “Sex, Drugs, and Cocoa Puffs: A Low Culture Manifesto“ is a collection of essays that cover the likes of Pamela Anderson, Billy Joel, the rivalry between the Lakers and the Celtics, Dixie Chicks, The Real World, and more.
Like fellow essayists Joe Queenan, Tod Friend and David Sedaris, Klosterman tackles subjects on which he has a decided point of view, and manages to present each one within a personal perspective framework. For example, in “George Will vs. Nick Hornby,“ Klosterman riffs on the conservative author/baseball fanatic and the music-loving creator of works like “High Fidelity,“ respectively, and folds in a funny tale of his being fired from a summer job as a Little League baseball coach.
Another example is in the best, and first, piece from the collection, “This Is Emo 0:01,“ where Klosterman talks about his inability to fall in love because of the “fake love“ purveyed in movies like “When Harry Met Sally“ and “Say Anything“:
“No woman will ever satisfy me. I know that now, and I would never try to deny it. But this is actually okay, because I will never satisfy a woman, either... So instead of blaming no one for this (which is kind of cowardly) or blaming everyone (which is kind of meaningless), I‘m going to blame John Cusack.
I once loved a girl who almost loved me, but not as much as she loved John Cusack. Under certain circumstances, this would have been fine; Cusack is relatively good-looking, he seems like a pretty cool guy (he likes the Clash and the Who, at least), and he undoubtedly has millions of bones in the bank.
If Cusack and I were competing for the same woman, I could easily accept losing. However, I don‘t really feel like John and I were “competing“ for the girl I‘m referring to, inasmuch as her relationship to Cusack was confined to watching him as a two-dimensional projection, pretending to be characters who don‘t actually exist.
Now, there was a time when I would have thought that detachment would have given me a huge advantage over Johnny C., inasmuch as *my* relationship with this woman included things like “talking on the phone“ and “nuzzling under umbrellas“ and “eating pancakes.“ However, I have come to realize that I perceived this competition completely backward; it was definitely an unfair battle, but not in my favor. It was unfair in Cusack‘s favor. I never had a chance.
It appears that countless women born between the years of 1965 and 1978 are in love with John Cusack. I cannot fathom how he isn‘t the number-one box-office star in America, because every straight girl I know would sell her soul to share a milkshake with that motherfucker. For upwardly mobile women in their twenties and thirties, John Cusack is the neo-Elvis. But here‘s what none of these upwardly mobile women seem to realize: They don‘t love John Cusack. They love Lloyd Dobler. When they see Mr. Cusack, they are still seeing the optimistic, charmingly loquacious teenager he played in *Say Anything,* a movie that came out more than a decade ago. That‘s the guy they think he is; when Cusack played Eddie Thomas in *America‘s Sweethearts* or the sensitive hit man in *Grosse Pointe Blank,* all his female fans knew he was only acting... but they assume when the camera stopped rolling, he went back to his genuine self... which was someone like Lloyd Dobler... which was, in fact, someone who *is* Lloyd Dobler, and someone who continues to have a storybook romance with Diane Court (or with Ione Skye, depending on how you look at it). And these upwardly mobile women are not alone. We all convince ourselves of things like this -- not necessarily about *Say Anything,* but about any fictionalized portrayals of romance that happen to hit us in the right place, at the right time. This is why I will never be completely satisfied by a woman, and this is why the kind of woman I tend to find attractive will never be satisfied by me.“
Klostermans ironic, yet still innocent perspective, his willingness to put his ideas out on a limb and see how far well all climb after them (such as likening the Dixie Chicks to action adventure heroes), and candid owning up of guilty pleasures that most of the rest of us wont are all factors that give his work real texture. He does have an impressively vast command of pop culture in general, but its the way he connects the dots by putting a personal stamp on the array of trivia at his disposal that makes this such a smorgasbord for readers.
In a year that has already been marked by a number of unforgettable memoirs, including “Dry“ and “A Million Little Pieces,“ Klostermans is another standout, even at a short 256 pages. Its also great fun, with plenty of surprises. You might not ever look at “Saved By the Bell“ the same way again. How many books can you say that about?