non-fiction SEX, DRUGS, AND COCOA PUFFS: A LOW-CULTURE MANIFESTO by Chuck Klosterman (Scribner), 238 pages, $34.50 cloth. Rating: NNNN it might be fun to have a few drinks with Chuck Klosterman and then have a rowdy argument about pop culture. You know - those long, in-depth deconstructions of everything and nothing that the over-educated and under-employed engage in while they kill time in pubs.
That's the tone of his new book, a collection of essays on low culture arguing the meaning and significance of everything from Guns N' Roses tribute bands to that horrible sitcom Saved By The Bell, and from Billy Joel to basketball.
This isn't dry cultural theory, though, and has no intention of seriously assigning any value judgments to these subjects. Instead, Klosterman twists comedy, personal anecdotes and social commentary into a conversational stream-of-consciousness style that makes the book disturbingly hard to put down.
It's also hilarious, which helps those of us who aren't even sure what sport they play through an over-long chapter on the subtext of the Celtics-Lakers rivalry.
Whether you agree with him is irrelevant. Does it really matter if John Cusack's characters sabotaged a whole generation's chances at real love? Is the premise that the "Dixie Chicks are the new Van Halen because teenage girls are the new teenage boys" really debatable?
What's thought-provoking about these seemingly inane lines of reasoning is that Klosterman extracts tiny kernels of transcendent revelation from everyday artifacts. His book is as useful as your university texts for deconstructing contemporary culture.
But while his style is as addictive as the trash culture he tackles, unlike actually watching the entire run of proto-reality TV show The Real World, reading about it probably won't scar you much.
Klosterman, along with Mark Bourrie, author of Hemp: A Short Story Of A Most Misunderstood Plant, launches Pages' This Is Not A Reading Series tonight (Thursday, September 11) at the Rivoli. See Readings, this page.