Eating the Dinosaur, if by dinosaur you mean journalism
Chuck Klosterman has carved a unique niche in journalism with his naval-gazing-Gonzo style of media criticism; punctuating his idiosyncratic observational wit with self-deprecating personal anecdotes. Moreover, the former SPIN senior writer is a contrarian pop-culture consumer who enjoys Weezer (even the new stuff), NBA basketball, Mad Men, Friday Night Lights, time travel and Animal Collective. Is it any wonder I’m a fan?
Still, reading Klosterman’s latest book Eating The Dinosaur, it dawned on me that if the Minnesota native is the natural progression of Hunter S. Thompson for the Pabst-set, than what we’re really seeing here is the point of no return.
Perhaps it should have been clear when Klosterman published his first fictional short-novel last year, but it is abundantly crystal now — interjecting himself into stories is no longer sufficient when he can get away without a story entirely.
Previous anthologies by Klosterman were collections of published works — but asides from a brief (albeit ongoing) discussion with Ira Glass and Errol Morris at the start of Eating, there is not a sign of journalism in sight. Klosterman has graduated to full-on media criticism, resulting in a series of essays that will definitely entertain and satisfy his fans, but also serves to turn him into essentially a very, very talented blogger.
In context, I suppose this was always to be expected. In an era where fame and celebrity are the most common pursuits du jour, Gonzoish writing has become the de-facto prosaic style of the internet and increasingly even established media columnists.
I’m frankly unsure how I feel about this. I don’t want to discuss The Death of Journalism, but there is most certainly a lot to consider about the abundance of opinions (mostly stupid) we now have to wade through on a daily, even hourly basis. As an unabashed consumer of pop-culture it is at the very least intriguing seeing the impact and evolution traditional journalism has had on todays status quo.
Despite my mild trepidation however, it’s tough to read Klosterman and not be amazed by his conversational aptitude. He might have indirectly helped create a monster, but the dude is still capable of writing circles around the average online smart ass. It should be noted that the most under appreciated (but important) facet of extrapolating your personality from Gonzo journalism is that you’d better have an interesting personality.
It’s no surprise that despite all the snark, what makes Klosterman so unique and successful is that he’s so damn astute most of the time, even when he’s not right. His ability to express simple ideas in brilliantly concise and colloquial terms is at times mind blowing. To wit:
Mad Men’s protagonist is Don Draper, a pathological liar who charms women by grabbing their vaginas in crowded restaurants.
– Chuck Klosterman, Eating The Dinosaur
I don’t know anybody else who could have crafted that sentence, but it’s more accurate in tone and detail than any of the many lines I’ve ever read about Don Draper or the show Mad Men. Similarly, there are times during Eating The Dinosaur when you realize — like any good conversationalist — Klosterman isn’t necessarily convincing, but at the very least he’s making interesting points, causing you to think about your own opinions.
He might not be breaking any stories but if there was one person I’d ever want to be trapped in an elevator with, it most certainly would be Natalie Portman. Followed very closely by Chuck Klosterman.