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September 21, 2006 - Image 19

Resource type:
The Michigan Daily, 2006-09-21

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Thursday, September 21, 2006 - The Michigan Daily - 5B

Stroke my ego, please:
The memoir dies slowly

By Kimberly Chou
Associate Arts Editor
The best line in Chuck Klos-
terman's book "Killing Yourself
To Live" - a rambling, roadtrip
dissertation on rock music deaths,
which, of course, ends up being
about much more than its proposed
subject - occurs after numer-
ous pages of erudite, though often
overly self-referential thought.
Klosterman says to his reader
that at some point (after the afore-
mentioned pages of snuck-in self-
congratulation), he or she "will
also complain about the author's
reliance on self-indulgent, post-
modern self-awareness, which will
prompt the person you're convers-
ing with to criticize the influence
of Dave Eggers on the memoir-
writing genre."
The truthfulness of that self-
conscious statement is refresh-
ing. Or at least it would be, if
it were easier to accept Klos-
terman's admission, because,
well, it's Chuck Klosterman. He
listens to the KISS solo albums
- all four of them, including
Peter Criss's - wears painfully
indie glasses and a Martha Stew-
art shag of a haircut. He's from
North Dakota, for God's sake.
That's not the problem - after
music geek is chic in a very
mid-1990s, I-wish-I-were-Ste-
ing-of-moving-to-the-Village ...
gym-class kind of way. But after
acknowledging and seemingly
emphasizing his uncoolness,
Klosterman slips in mentions of
all the publications he's written
for (at present, Esquire, SPIN,
The New York Times magazine,
ESPN) and how he eats whatever
he wants because he goes run-
ning, like, all the time. Or a note
that he's boning some really hot
chicks. Not just one - there's
a hot, random blonde as well
as the Residential College-type
standby best friend. And one
named Lenore.
Klosterman's recent book sign-
ing at Borders Books and Music
prompted this gem from a friend
of mine: "I've never simultane-
ously hated and loved someone so
much as I do right now."
Eggers - best known for the
Pulitzer-prize nominated "A
Heartbreaking Work of Staggering
Genius" - is more self-indulgent.
"AHWOSG" is an almost-mem-
oir, a book based on life after the
deaths of both of his parents only
a few months apart, some parts
slightly exaggerated to make him
sound like a better person than he
actually is. How many women had
Eggers slept with by age 25? It's
somewhere in the mid-20s, and he
will tell you in detail. How many
of his friends has he convinced to
move out to San Francisco to work
at his start-up Might magazine (this
is the early '90s by the way)? Sev-
eral, and one of them gets in this
near-death accident and the Eggers
character visits her at the hospital
numerous times and is super pre-
cious about everything. Okay.
Later on in the story he admits
he wasn't actually that good friends
with Co-worker Who Had the Ter-
rible Accident and that the character
Guy He Keeps Saving From Suicide
is actually related to somebody else
in a different way. That's not so bad;
there's a disclaimer that this isn't
"really" a memoir. He also uses

some at-the-time-unorthodox "lit-
erary devices" - having his eight-
year-old brother talk as the voice
of a shrink, talking to people that
aren't there, like Alanis Morrissette
in that one crazy music video, a
device Klosterman will later crib.
It's not quite as it sounds here;
you have to actually read the book
to catch his often too self-congrat-
ulating tone.
But it's really hard to hate on
someone who had to raise his kid
brother essentially on his own
after the death of his parents. Or
some slightly nerdy, oddly sexy
a r lSA RA H
Michigan Daily
Account Executve
ofthe week

"Check out my bad-boy haircut."
rock critic for wanting to remind
people that he a) has a life b) gets
laid, for those that don't believe in
his social skills.
Maybe it's just a complex; I
know I'm not the only person who
feels this way. Maybe the Klos-
terman detractors and Eggers
haters wish they were as success-
ful. Most people I've noticed who
disliked either writer are writers
themselves, or just incredibly
cynical. Yet I have this theory
that at least a portion of the peo-
ple that like Chuckie Klos idolize
him because they only wish they

knew as much about pop culture
as he did, and they're person-
ally kind of a troglodyte in that
But the rest of us are just envi-
ous. We despise people who are
just like us that succeed and have
more of an allowance to be pre-
tentious fucks. Why are the rest
of us Midwestern, Ratt-loving,
former high school basketball
players not writing for Esquire or
Mcsweeney's and doing national
book tours?
Whatever. I'm going back to
E.B. White.


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