"Chuck Klosterman X: A Highly Specific, Defiantly Incomplete History of the Early 21st Century" by Chuck Klosterman, Blue Rider Press, 444 pages, $27
He once, early on, memorably described himself as being the exact opposite of a "no-nonsense guy." That is, he's an "all-nonsense kind of guy," the kind of guy who eats "all-sugared cereal exclusively." We're talking about his maturity now, many collections later. The newest collection from the last decade is "not a portrait of what the world is, or of what the world could be. It is a journalistic portrait of my interior life: I watch games, I listen to music and I daydream about the rest of reality."
If it occurs to you that has become a literary genre virtually invented by Bill Simmons in Grantland (and now The Ringer) we won't mention it even though Klosterman is proud to lead off his book with his favorite piece, he says, which was Grantland's "Three-Man Weave."
This is a plump collection indeed -- no less than 444 pages. He calls it "a highly specific, defiantly incomplete history of the 21st century." It's difficult to resist a fellow who, despite all unavoidable apperances of megalomania, loves "reading the index to any book I publish ... Exploring the index from a book you created is like having someone split your head open with an axe so that you can peruse the contents of your brain. It's the alphabetizing of your consciousness."
So let's Alphabetize a little with Chuck and his Index: "Abbey Road (The Album)" occupies pages 348-349, "age and maturity" pages 421-424, "Asperger's Syndrome" 387-388 and then, the first Biggie -- four separate entries for "Basketball" and six separate entries for "The Beatles." Lest anyone understand him too quickly, Tom Brady gets five entries (including "refusal to discuss deflategate") and, clear the decks, Kobe Bryant gets a full 11 entries from "game against Toronto Raptors, (2006) to "Sexual Assault Charge" and finally "and Shaquille O'Neal." Kiss, Sports and Television exceed Kobe but that's still a lot of consciousness for one L.A. Laker.
Where Chuck Klosterman becomes one of the necessary sensibilities of our time is in, for instance, his final essay where he observes "from here on out there's never going to be a downturn in the number of high-profile corpses arguably worth remembering, particularly in a media landscape driven not by institutions but by any private citizen who cares enough to argue. Perversely and predictably, recognizing the death of a celebrity on Facebook has beome,a form of lifestyle branding."
In the same way, of course, does reading new books by Chuck Klosterman brand your lifestyle, whatever else it might be.
You could do worse. Much worse.