Killing Yourself to Live: 85% of a True Story by Chuck Klosterman

Posted on December 15, 2013

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Killing Yourself to Live book cover

Killing Yourself to Live book cover

After being a Chuck Klosterman fan for some time now, you can imagine how impressed and excited I was at the prospect of him embarking on some serious and focused journalism.  Not that his standard editorial pieces aren’t fantastic.  Reading his wit and enlightening insights always opens my mind and shows the topic at hand in a clear light; often times what feels like the truest light possible.  And it’s not that he’s an expert on what he’s writing about.  At least, that isn’t what saturates his writing with such clarity.   While he does have a profound grasp on everything from sports to music, what brings life to his work is his expert insight on life.  If they gave out PhDs for biting wisdom, he’d have several honorary degrees.  So, by knowing the craft with which he builds his units of insight, I envisioned that a full-length investigation piece of the deaths of numerous rock icons and the impact it had on their career, and more so the impact it makes on our culture, would take those units and brick upon brick construct a basilica to temporarily reside within and sit in wonder at its petite brilliance.  What I found was that more or less it was a collection of his typical offerings, strung together vis á vis the rock-icon-death-journey narrative, with a substantial backstory of lost loves woven throughout.

Was this bad?  Not at all!  It’s a terrific book and I’d recommend Killing Yourself To Live to anybody.  You find yourself searching your own soul for the truth and empathy Klosterman seems to unconsciously emit.  As with all his works, I came out refreshed with a renewed sense of vibrancy and urgency to live with the passion and ease he takes for granted.  Many familiar with Klosterman may be asking, “how can anyone put ‘ease’ and ‘Chuck Klosterman’ in the same sentence?”  Well, they have a point.  He is completely neurotic on so many levels.  And the story may stop there for many.  That’s totally fine.  But, I believe for others, this is the same urgent, anxious, honest and innocent life they may have lost in their teens, or twenties, or adolescence.  And to them, and to myself, he represents that lost innocence and its struggle to stay young, to stay alive and to keep from being conformed to this world full of decrepit adults.

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