Killing Yourself To Live: 85% of a True Story- Chuck Klosterman
Misleading advertising on a book again. After enjoying "Fargo Rock City", a work where auto-biography and music are blended with pleasant results (yet also some concerns) it was a matter of time I was going to read another Klosterman's. "Killing Yourself To Live" seemed the ideal choice, being built around the premise of Spin's magazine feature on death rock icons. A road trip through "Myth America" by a passionate music commentator looked great. But that's not what the book exactly offers.
Unfortunately, America's most famous
rock and roll death places, from where the plane with Big Bopper, Ritchie Valens and Buddy Holly crashed to where Kurt Cobain's shot himself, is a mere excuse to talk, primarily, about something else.
That something else is, of course, Chuck Klosterman. "Killing Yourself..." is in reality a not very subtle dose of the writer's obsessions, in particular his troubled relationships and the confusion provoked by them. This might sound like Nick Hornby's "High Fidelity", this time on a car through the States, but believe me, it doesn't have the British's book charms. And no, I won't say this can be compared to gonzo journalism either, even if there's some booze and drug situation involved. No way.
Don't get me wrong, the book is very enjoyable and, thanks to his recognisable prose and what he is talking about, meaningful to many. But Klosterman has a serious issue with digression. "Fargo Rock City" suffered from that. But this one has several parts where its practically ruined because of that. The reader will quickly have the feeling there's no focus.
And damn it (sorry) but Klosterman can really be engaging when he talks about music. The best parts on "Killing Yourself..." to me are about Radiohead's Kid A (spectacular), the Chelsea Hotel or the brave (and so true) comment on Nirvana's end and the creation of Kurt Cobain's myth. But he shifts, better said hides, these sorts of opinions in between an overwhelming amount of pages that go back and forth through his three most significant relationships by then.... and the music becomes just the background of the book, sadly.
Why the death of a rock star is the "smartest" move any musician can do? Why do they matter that much to us? I'm afraid we didn't know. Klosterman wasn't that interested in his own premise.