Posts Tagged ‘Chuck Klosterman’

I Wear the Black Hat by Chuck Klosterman (image via amazon.com)

By Chuck Klosterman
July 22
Finished: November 22

Huzzah! I finished all twenty-seven books in less than year! They now set upon a window shelf in my room, stacked about halfway to the ceiling because I literally have nowhere to put them. I took a month off to write all these recaps and re-energize for next year’s challenge.

My last book, I Wear the Black Hat, took a little while to read: it’s another collection of cultural critique essays that sometimes can be overwhelming to read straight through. I actually found out this brand new Chuck Klosterman offering because it was included as a preview in The Visible Man. The preview chapter focused on Batman and a real life NYC vigilante and how society viewed the two similar narratives through completely different lenses: the fictional Batman defeats foes who threaten the fictional Gotham and is a (complicated) hero; 80s subway shooter Bernhard Goetz, originally viewed as a hero that fought back against crime, quickly became a villain in the public perception. Disclosure: Klosterman almost lost me when he said something to the extent of “Pretend Batman is real…and he goes around New York City shooting people. C’mon, did you not see The Dark Knight Rises?).  

Each essay examines and different aspect of pop culture, ranging from sports teams and figures to musicians, actors, and politicians, and posing the question can anyone ever be truly good or truly bad?  Overall, this was not as engaging as other Klosterman works (like my favorite,  Sex, Drugs, and Cocoa Puffs) and, due to my age (hello, babies of the 80s!) some of the references were hard to follow or just not interesting, but as a Klosterman fan, I’m pretty sure I would have been disappointed in myself if I gave up on Black Hat–it’s a book that got me thinking, not only about myself and my perceived face but of how I perceived other as well. Do I see them as a villain because they are actually evil? Or do I see them as such because society tells me they are evil?



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The Visible Man by Chuck Klosterman (image via amazon.com)

By Chuck Klosterman
Started: February 27 (?)
Finished: March 24

I’m a huge Chuck Klosterman fan. A Klostermannite, if you will (anyone want to help me make that a thing?). I love Chuck Klosterman so much, I seriously considered spending a semester abroad in Leipzig, Germany because he was a guest lecturer there for a semester. When I applied to the Communications program (secondary major, woo!) during my sophomore year of college, I pulled a quote from Sex, Drugs and Cocoa Puffs to explain why I wanted to study mass communication (and essentially, pop culture) at an academic level. I’m that dedicated

The Visible Man is Klosterman’s second foray into fiction (the first was Downton Owl) and much like his first book, Man is so outlandish at times you feel like you’re reading science fiction, not straight up fiction. Like Owl, The Visible Man is also slightly depressing and I had a hard time sympathizing (or even liking) the characters. And then there is the case of the alway popular unreliable narrator; a good chunk of the story is told through letters from Victoria Vick, a therapist treating an unusual patient and is seeking a book deal. Y___., is the anonymous patient who claims he has stolen a secret government cloaking device that renders Y__. nearly invisible.

Y__. uses this ability to observe people in their “natural” habitat, to see how they act when no one is looking. As the story progresses, Vick progresses into near madness, constantly in fear of being watched, and Y__. exhibits obsessive behavior, almost relishing in the anguish he causes Vick and her disabled husband.To tie this back into my aforementioned Communications degree, it reinforced a basic principle  of social observation experiment known as the Hawthorne Effect, which postulates that subjects unknowingly modify their behavior  in response to knowing they are being watch. If this is true, can we really put stock in the data collected through social observation experimentation?

Fun fact: my copy of The Visible Man is not on my large stack of “read in 2013” books because my copy is personally signed by Mr. Chuck Klosterman himself! Since I was not in NYC, my selfless boyfriend attended his lecture at the Union Square Barnes & Noble and emerged with both the book and a recording of a personal message from Chuck to me.

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