Pop culture is America’s new religion. And for millions of rectangle-framed, Spoon-loving, constant-blogging adherents, Chuck Klosterman is god. The author of college-favorites “Sex, Drugs and Cocoa Puffs” and “Killing Yourself to Live: 85% Of a True Story” has made his mark espousing his analyses on the shows we watch, the music we listen to and the celebrities we read about. Whether it’s an evaluation of his past relationships as explained by various KISS albums or an honest-to-god dissertation on “Saved By the Bell,” Klosterman has cemented himself as our country’s preeminent pop-culture laureate.
Tonight, he’ll be at the Borders on Liberty Street, touring in support of his newly released “Klosterman IV: A Decade of Curious People and Dangerous Ideas” (an allusion to Led Zeppelin’s self-titled collection). The inspiration for “Klosterman IV,” a collection of essays written previously for various publications, came about on his last college tour from students eager to gain writing tips and read more of his work.
For Klosterman, now 34, the age gap between himself and his generally college-aged fanbase doesn’t hinder his ability to speak on topics that younger generations aren’t familiar with.
“I still have the same culture interests as younger people,” he explained.
Klosterman also makes it clear that he isn’t trying to force his own personal favorites upon his readers. Rather, his literary objective is to “show people how art is part of our lives and (to) put the way we view the world into the art we have.”
There are the inevitable critics who paint Klosterman as a name-dropping commentator eager to spout his opinions to anyone who’ll listen. A great majority of these are members of the so-called “blogosphere,” able to generate buzz though a series of endless hyperlinks. Aware of his backlash on media sites such as gawker.com, Klosterman immediately gave an exasperated and frustrated response, blaming the self-created sense of fame many of the bloggers have and their skewed vision that anyone more famous than them must be an overexposed celebrity.
Those concerned with the focus on seemingly trivial pop culture have thrown their insults Klosterman’s way as well. “That’s what the nature is when you keep explaining the method that encourages it. Who complains about being too much pop culture? It’s the people who cover it.”
With an already-established collection of books, Klosterman has branched out recently to a litany of magazines and even espn.com. Though the same level of creative freedom doesn’t exist with established publications, they’ve allowed him to explore currently relevant topics, and interview celebrities including Britney Spears and Bono.
“I’ve had the freedom to talk about what I want, but my interests in sports and music have changed so I write what’s interesting to me at the time and how people like it,” Klosterman said. “I’m never certain if anyone will care, and I hope I’m right.”
In an attempt to separate himself from his patented self-analysis through pop criticism, Klosterman’s newest project is a non-autobiographical novel. The transition isn’t easy. Said Klosterman: “It’s hard. Not hard like coal mining is hard, but it’s harder than non-fiction. It’s slow. So it’ll be a while.”
“I’m getting the sense that people are getting sick of me,” he said. “So it might be good timing.”
Tonight at 7 p.m.