A Tapestry of Me Book Club: Killing Yourself to Live by Chuck Klosterman

Imagine it: a book written in 2003 where a guy owns 2,233 CDs and takes 600 of them on a cross country road trip because he is unsure of how to hook up his new iPod to his car.

For some of my readers, that probably doesn’t sound too unfamiliar. But for people like my sister, who wasn’t even born until 2005, you would probably be amazed that in this book, the author literally takes a paragraph to describe how a GPS works. That part is for those of us that would have directions printed off from MapQuest to get from Point A to Point B back in the day. Also, he refers to “Crazy in Love” as the “catchy song by the woman with a flat stomach in Destiny’s Child and Jay Z”. No joke.

As I said in my New Years post, I want to start a book club here on A Tapestry of Me. I hope this will lead to a larger discussion about what inspires you, what you are passionate about, and so on. I will let you know what book I am going to read each month so that at the end of the month, we can all discuss together in the comments! (I didn’t share in advance what book I was reading this month because I wanted to test the waters first.)

Anyways, this month’s book was Killing Yourself to Live by Chuck Klosterman. This book was given to me by my general studies professor at the Governor’s Scholars Program. He brings a box of random books each year, and over the course of the 5 weeks evaluates which book would best fit each student. I wound up getting this one, and to be honest, he nailed it.

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Our general studies class was called Hail Hydra!. We discussed fandoms and pop culture and the effect they have on someone’s quality of life. I spent a significant amount of time professing my love for classic rock (more specifically, Led Zeppelin). By pure coincidence, when he handed me the book, the page where Klosterman discusses how everyone goes through a phase where they believe Zeppelin is the greatest rock and roll band of all time was dogeared. I can’t make this stuff up.

My professor, Jason, wrote a note in the first few pages that sums up this book — and myself — better than I ever could:

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Now, you have to understand that Jason is the kind of guy who had our class listen to Bruce Springsteen’s Born in the USA album on vinyl while wearing blindfolds so “there was no outside disturbance”. And I’m the kind of girl that loved it. (I’m not the only one, either. So many people enjoyed it that it became a club. We listened to Highway 61 RevisitedRumours, and others.)

Music has always been one of my favorite things about life. I have watched Pearl Jam perform “Black” on MTV Unplugged more times than I’d like to admit.  I have probably heard every version of “All Along the Watchtower” that’s ever been recorded. My favorite part of “Gimme Shelter” by the Stones is hearing Mick Jagger yell “Woo!” when the backup singer’s voice cracks at 3:02. And yeah, I like Kendrick Lamar. I like Tyler Childers. I like Shania Twain and John Mayer and Marina (and the Diamonds). But there is something about classic rock that has always made me feel something. Maybe it’s because it reminds me of my life. Or maybe I’m nostalgic for a time period I never even lived in.

Anyways, all I knew was that this book was about rock music, and I was going to love it.

In Killing Yourself to Live, Klosterman is traveling on a solo cross country road trip to see the places where rock legends met their fate. He doesn’t really know why, and he doesn’t really know what to do when he gets there, but that’s what makes it entertaining. This book was great for me to start the year off with because never once did I feel like I was reading (cause Lord knows I hate reading). It was like I was sitting in the car with Klosterman as he drove along the interstate and explained his exhausting love triangle to me, and how it has both nothing and everything to do with this road trip.

To be honest with you, this dude’s worldview is a little cynical. And somewhat depressing. And I feel like he’s had way too much time on his hands to overanalyze everything that has ever been said or done to him. He exploits the women he believes he is in love with and I would be a little scared to be his friend (because I would be afraid to see what was written about me). But, for some reason I couldn’t put this book down. His honesty and openness made me want more. This is like exactly why the Kardashians became famous; nothing about them was really special, but they weren’t afraid to let the world know their business and now everyone loves them for it. (Myself included.)

Throughout the story, Klosterman makes several pop culture references that are as specific as mentioning the drums in Bob Seger’s “Hollywood Nights”. If you’re a music junkie or pop culture enthusiast, this book is for you. If you’re not, then it’s not. (I’m pointing my finger at you, mom.) This book kept me guessing whether he would mention my favorite artists, and if so, what his opinion on them was. (I’m here to tell you that, despite some of his weird musical preferences, he does like Fleetwood Mac’s Rumours, so his opinion on music can be trusted.)

But even more than a novel about music and dead rock and roll musicians, this was a novel about a guy whose life and perspective changed so much over the course of two weeks. As Klosterman tells his story, you can identify who in your life would have been Lenore, who would have been Quincy, and who would have been the guy he exclusively refers to as “My Nemesis”. You catch yourself wanting to engage in conversation with him and give him advice based off of your own experiences.

The whole piece was kind of aimless. There was never really a time that I was like, “There it is! The moral of the story.” It’s really open to interpretation. Was the point that he was hopelessly devoted to three problematic women at once? Or was the whole point about how nobody really worshipped Kurt Cobain until he died? Is that how he got the title, Killing Yourself to Live? Or is it about all of the unnecessary self destruction he has done so that he can feel like he’s living a full life? You choose.

There was no better book that could have started off my year of reading. As I said earlier, I hate to read. I think it’s because I’m a Pisces with a short attention span. Two pages in and I’m daydreaming about a vacation to Norway in the summer of 2023. However, I finished this book in four days. I felt so accomplished.

If you have read this book, or plan on reading this book, leave a comment and share your thoughts with me! I would love to become more interactive with my readers. ALSO, if you have any ideas for what I should call this book club PLEASE comment and let me know! I thought about sticking with A Tapestry of ______, but I just can’t decide!

These next few months, I want to explore all different genres of literature written by authors of various backgrounds. That being said…

 

February’s Book: Things Fall Apart by Chinua Achebe

This book was given to me by one of my favorite teachers ever! It also made it to Obama’s year-end list of favorites in 2018. Go ahead and begin reading so that we can discuss at the end of the month!

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