Tuesday, November 01, 2005

34. Fargo Rock City by Chuck Klosterman

Fargo Rock City book pictureI found out about Chuck Klosterman after reading an email exchange between him and Sports Guy (Bill Simmons, whom I would consider one of the funniest and liveliest collumnists today) that was quite entertaining. After a bit of research, I realized Klosterman is a fairly well-known music and social critic. This was the only one of his books I could find at the library.

It's a bunch of semi-chronological essays about his love for heavy metal, a love he developed as a teenager in the midwest of America. I myself was a hater of heavy metal, seeing it as the enemy music of all the trendoids in my own small town. Klosterman sees himself and his fellow metalheads as outsiders as well, which seems weird to me. Maybe things are different in North Dakota, but in Lantzville, the headbangers were the dominant, aggressive musical force and if you dressed differently or listened to different music, you were often victimized by them.

Because of this, it's taken me years to appreciate the musical qualities of metal. I do appreciate them today and can often be found rocking out to Sweet Leaf in the kitchen. But Klosterman is really pushing the envelope. His book is an appreciation of the most poppy glam metal bands like Mötley Crüe, Warrant, Guns and Roses, KISS, Def Leppard. He makes a strong case for all of them, and though I don't buy his arguments enough to make me really like those bands, I do believe that his love for them is real and that they do deserve some level of respect.

Arguments aside, Fargo Rock City is an excellent informational overview to the whole genre. Read this, with iTunes nearby to listen to the many songs and albums he describes, and you will be comfortable having an intelligent discussion with a fan of 80s glam metal. Some of Klosterman's analysis is a bit meandering and uninspired but there are nice ideas and it doesn't really get boring.

If you do want to learn more about 80's metal, than you should definitely read this book. If you want some insightful social commentary from our generation, you might want to try some of his other books (which I'll probably pick up at some point in the future).

1 comment:

Jason L said...

Is he a humor writer? Good work on expanding your repertoire.