Chuck Klosterman IV by Chuck Klosterman (2006): Hilarious and thoughtful collection of essays, mostly on pop-cultural issues, by the almost always engaging Klosterman. He manages to come up with sharp analysis without being (too much) of a pretentious bastard. His notes on the pieces, which span ten years of his writing, are often refreshingly candid about what he thinks succeeds and fails in hindsight.
Klosterman’s weaknesses could be described as a love of over-generalization and an occasional bout of a sort of odd political futilitarianism masquerading as hard-won cynicism. When he lurches into politics, the results are often intellectually embarrassing. So thank heavens he doesn’t do so very often.
There are a lot of high points here. The two I’d pick as most representative of Klosterman’s charms are a hilariously cranky interview with Robert Plant (cranky on Plant’s part, that is, the crankiness mostly aimed at people other than Klosterman except when Plant decides that Chuck’s theories on Led Zeppelin are full of crap) and a ridiculously useful column explaining the differences between one’s Nemesis and one’s Arch-Enemy (“If your Arch-Enemy decided to kill you, your Nemesis would try to stop him.”
Other great pieces include a profile of (The Smiths’) Morrissey’s largest American fan-base (Los Angeles-area Latinos, apparently), the annual Goth pilgrimage to Disneyland, and Klosterman’s bizarre visit with Val Kilmer. Recommended.