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Klosterweek: a recap

chuck klosterman to the heat lightning

Tired about hearing about Chuck Klosterman? We’re not. I think THL proved to the universe that we could never, ever grow fatigued with one of our favorite writers.

I consider the week before last’s homage to one of my favorite contemporary thinkers and writers a great success. Not only did those of us who love him have the opportunity to speak their admiration to the web-world, but the man himself actually heard about us, and hopefully read some of the sweet nothings we typed so softly and sincerely for him.

Pictured here is the note Mr. Klosterman gave to Lila, dedicated to THL, at a reading in Manhattan We remain thrilled, flattered, and filled with joy.

The week was an experiment. We wanted to see what it was like to focus all of our energy on one topic. We hope to continue in this vein and to spread the love of good things to THL readers.


Klosterweek: something to believe in

we love u

Chuck Klosterman is one of my favorite authors of all time. He ranks right up there with David Sedaris in terms of the writers whose work makes me laugh out loud in quiet places at inappropriate times. I find myself reading his books on airplanes a lot and I can’t help but pepper the flight with deep chuckles from the diaphragm. But his appeal for me goes beyond his quick wit and humor and accessible, conversational writing style.

When I first sat down to devour Sex, Drugs and Cocoa Puffs during my senior year in college, I immediately knew that I had found a kindred spirit. His quirky observational essays and the way he broke down and tied complex issues to seemingly worthless pieces of pop culture resonated with me.

For someone like myself who feels like an outsider most of the time with what’s popular today or a person that constantly looks for a deeper, alternative motive or cause for the way we view pop culture, Klosterman’s work is a constant breath of fresh air. He became a reminder that there are like-minded people out there that have a similar world view.

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Klosterweek: an evening with Chuck
he knows we exist!!!

we love u

Editor’s note: as you read to the end, possibly the single most exciting thing that has happened to Liz Tracy in the past five years will be revealed. Lila Dominguez rulez.

klosterman signing small

I get to Barnes and Nobles an hour and a half before Chuck Klosterman’s reading is scheduled to begin. By then, half the seats of the fourth floor event area are already taken. I begin thumbing through the new softcover edition of Eating the Dinosaur, which was just released. It includes two additional chapters, which I find to be quite a marketing ploy to sell the same book twice. Within the next half hour all the seats fill up and a standing line has formed in the back of the room. The crowd is mostly 20 and 30 year olds with a few older folks peppered throughout.

He arrives on time. While a Barnes and Nobles manager introduces him to the audience and gives a brief run down of his accomplishments, Chuck awkwardly shuffles on the side of the room. He’s taller than I expected, fairly lean with a small, middle aged “paunch” around the belly. He’s dressed casually and looks a little— nervous? “I’d like to now welcome to the stage the most attractive person to grow up in North Dakota- Chuck Klosterman,” the Barnes and Nobles manager announces. “Thanks so much” he says, once he makes it to the mic. “But I’m not the most attractive person to come out of North Dakota—I mean, there’s Ed Schultz.” I look this up later and discover Mr. Schultz is neither attractive nor was raised in North Dakota—although he moved to Fargo as an adult later.

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Klosterweek: a reader's guide

we love u

By now, you have no doubt been convinced that you should be reading more Chuck Klosterman. You also probably believe that this entails buying the man’s books, because that’s what he does, right? Write books. He must, because I have a few of them on my shelf right over there. Except that he doesn’t, actually. Not really. Guy writes essays for magazines, okay? Most of the books are assemblies of these essays, with other stuff thrown in. (Fargo Rock City is an exception, but even that one started as a Spin article, and I’m passing on his novel because I thought the fiction thing in IV was sort of boring.) Mostly they are essays about stupid shit, made interesting by Klosterman’s perverse/bizarre opinions/beliefs, for which he argues so persuasively that you are left feeling not quite sure about whether your leg has been pulled. Does he actually believe that, for example, “teenage girls are the new teenage boys, which is why the Dixie Chicks are the new Van Halen, which is why country music is awesome”?

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Klosterweek: Chuck, talk dirty to me (anytime)
too much too soon?

we love u

July 21, 2010

Dear Mr. Klosterman:

I hope you’re enjoying a lovely summer. Please excuse and/or accept any formality here. I spend the bulk of my days writing letters to people, soliciting them for money. Sounds like a genuine hoot, right?! Really cool, no? Snort, groan, ugh! I’m sorry. I’m a little nervous, makes my jokes bad. It’s just that… it’s just that I like you so much!

I don’t know where to start. I know you’re not perfect, even though I feel like you are. Sometimes, I even think you can be a bit corny, overly introspective, and that time in IV when you didn’t get Bono’s joke, it was pretty straight forward, I thought. But there I go again. My mom always says you catch more bees with honey than vinegar, or maybe it’s don’t cut off your nose to spite your face?
I’m never nice to guys I like. I’m very difficult. You should know that now, you know, at this point in the relationship? I do want you to like me, so I’ll start again.

Chuck Klosterman, you are admired by me. I think you really are the tops. It’s like you are the ideal me, but a man. That’s a huge compliment! If we were friends, you’d know this, but since I think you’re the ideal me, you just might just get the gist of how cool I think that is. Now it’s my turn to be corny, it’s like you’re writing what I’m thinking, or how I used to think when I was in school and smarter, or when I was emotional and younger, or how I used to be inspired before I drank all the time. You seem untainted entirely by the mental malaise of “adulthood,” of the monotony of office work, though not untouched by heartbreak.

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Klosterweek: the Chuck Klosterman I know

we love u

I know very little about Chuck Klosterman and there’s a good reason why I never will. While recounting epiphanies made during conversations, it seems as though he has the uncanny ability to concoct a subtle opinion about deep shit in a matter of split seconds (i.e. “but that’s not really valid,” etc.). This makes me terrified of ever talking to him about anything deeper than the weather.

Of course, he may (a) indeed possess a lightning-fast wit, (b) meditate over every possible viewpoint before initiating a conversation, or © boil down entire conversations so it appears that a moment of cocktail-party banter unearthed a nugget good enough for publication. (Fresh from reading Eating the Dinosaur, I had to ape him at least once – too bad it’s not a humorous footnote). I like to think it’s one of the first two, because they would be one or two awesome things to know about Chuck without having to stop trembling, pat-dry the pee on my pants, and then introduce myself.

In this light, the first essay in Dinosaur is the most intimidating but also the best in the book. It’s vintage Chuck, an examination of his experiences as an interviewer explained by interviews with other interviewers.

In a certain state of intoxication, I opened the book in front of the MLB All-Star game in Anaheim. Softly in the background, four innings flew by as the pitchers made mincemeat of hapless sluggers squinting into the late afternoon glare. Meanwhile, Little Jimmy, curled up in his tattered undies with beer warming on the table, read totally transfixed, feeling like he stumbled into the candlelit sanctum of the Smart People Club.

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Klosterweek: helping hands

we love u

Dear Mr. Klosterman,

While the conviviality of your writing style invites me to call you Chuck, I’ll resist the temptation; my impulse is to dislike people who use my first name on first correspondence, so I’ll not do the same to you.

Then again, perhaps you find my use of your last name off-putting and impersonal. Or worse, the unnecessarily formal address of a snob. Well, etiquette – if such a thing even matters or still exists – demands I err on the side of caution and use your surname.

I think you understand; you lived in Ohio, after all.

A friend bought me a copy of Killing Yourself to Live to keep me company during a period of convalescence three years ago. My pelvis, sacrum, and ribs were fractured. I spent my days in a haze of Oxycodone. Securing a drink was a walker-laden exercise which ate up an hour and left me sweaty and exhausted. My three clearest memories of this time are reading Terri Jentz’s Strange Piece of Paradise and wondering if reading was always going to be this difficult or if it was just the Oxycodone, the opening theme song of Futurama kicking in right when the meds hit my bloodstream and thinking broken bones were the greatest thing that ever happened to me, and becoming a fan of yours from page one of Killing Yourself to Live.

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Klosterweek: an introduction

The Heat Lightning shows Chuck Klosterman love: KLOSTERWEEK, July 19-23, 2010

Dear THL readers:

For no reason in particular, we decided that this week THL will share its love of music writer, philosopher, journalist, and genius Chuck Klosterman with you.

Chuck Klosterman has made us swoon, he has made us laugh, he has made us money, for fuck’s sake, he has made us blush, and in fact, he has also made us pee our pants a little. Even more than all of that, he has actually managed to made us think.

So, for the next few days, we at The Heat Lightning are finding little ways to tell Mr. Klosterman that:

we love u

Hearts, hugs, and wet kisses,