I need to preface my entire review by stating that Klosterman is one of the most thought-provoking authors I’ve ever read. He has written several books (Eating the Dinosaur, Killing Yourself to Live, Downtown Owl) showcasing his wide array of knowledge of all things pop culture related. He is quite simply an expert on pop culture.
Sex, Drugs, and Cocoa Puffs is a book comprised of short essays about everything from Saved By The Bell and the Sims to the Celtics/Lakers rivalry and Star Wars. There is literally no subject that Chuck does not know/write about.
I always find it difficult to rate/review a book that is comprised of essays or short stories because there really is no narrative. Each story is its own entity and there may be some that are amazing and then some not so amazing. I enjoyed about half of the essays in this book because I was knowledgable enough to understand the pop culture referenced in them. His essay on the computer game The Sims was by far my favorite. He writes an entire essay comparing his real life, to that of his “SimChuck.” It’s hysterical. Reading the essay brought me back to the days when I would play the Sims, and his interesting allegory between the life of his “SimChuck” and his own was intriguing. He compared his own wants and needs with that of “SimChuck”, and found that although “SimChuck” lived in a two-dimensional space which “real” Chuck controlled, they were actually not very different.
His essays on the Real World was also very poignant as he enters into a discussion on how reality television can never be truly reality after its first season. He uses the first season of the Real World as evidence, stating that the first season was so boring because people were actually just being themselves and not playing a character they thought they needed to play to get air time. It’s a very interesting thought, one that I have had myself on occasion.
I found myself struggling to get through the essays on sports (most specifically the Lakers/Celtics rivalry). It’s apparent in Klosterman’s writing that he is a huge sports fan, which puts a damper on some essays for me as I’m the complete opposite. Discussing coaches and players and fan bases were just lost on me. I tried to slug my way though that essay, thinking that it would contain portions that would be amicable to non-fans like myself, but it was difficult. Although Klosterman made parallels linking the Lakers/Celtics rivalry to other great rivalries and events in history, his references sometimes became too specific or were referencing things of which I had no knowledge, like additional sports facts and events.
I give Klosterman a ton of credit for being able to discuss (in infinite detail) the effect of Madonna and Pamela Anderson in the same book as a detailed analysis of sports legends and a ton of historical facts. The man is clearly a sponge of information, yet I feel that it’s sometimes too much information leaking out. (As a note, Barnes and Nobles offers Nook customers each of the essay’s found in this book separately for .99. If you are interested in checking them out, please contact me and I can recommend some for you based on your interests!)
I’d like to end my review by asking that you not read this review and swear off Klosterman for life. His book Killing Yourself to Live is written in a more narrative style and is amazing! It chronicles his journey across the US to find out why musicians become legends when they die early. It’s an incredibly interesting book, one that I highly recommend.
3 out of 5 stars