Tuesday, May 23, 2006

Pooh'sDay Blues: On the Road With Klosterman (Book #8)

So, when I like a guy's writing, I tend to like his writing and go whole hog. After breezing through "Fargo Rock City", I jumped the queue and tore through "Killing Yourself to Live." Billed as a story of a roadtrip across America to try to understand how one in fact must die in order to be fully alive. In the memories of others. If you are a musician. Or something like that.

But it's not really about that at all. Klosterman amost goes out of his way to prove the aphorism that criticism inherently says more about the critic than about the subject. Without counting pages, I'd guess that Klosterman spends more time talking about his love life than about any of the musicians or their 'meaning' over the course of the book. This isn't surprising since the book is actually about his love life - "Killing Yourself to Live" is as good depiction as any of the self-flagellation he engages in over the 3 (point whatever) women in his life over the course of his road trip.

The whole thing is, naturally, set to music. And in these parts he at least head-fakes towards the ostensible topic - the obligatory Cobain/Corrigan/Vedder death, genius and relevance discussion, a truly great passage about the enduring utility and greatness of Zeppelin and standard Rock-Critic Snobbery - he wants you to know that he f'ing hates punk, country and, worst of all, "the F-ing blues" though he loves blues rock.

To be sure the blues he's thinking of (your Parchman Farm era Robert Johnson's, Charley Pattons and Skip James) are something of an acquired taste for one used to the 'majesty' of modern production values. The simplicity of a Robert Johnson man-and-a-guitar-on-literal-wax track must be jarring to one who genuflects at the altar of O.K. Computer every few hours.

All my complaints aside, Klosterman is such an engaging narrator that I end up not caring what he says. The way he says it is diverting enough, and there is plenty of meat on the story, with the music and the girls and the random Midwest observations (homesick much, Pooh?) thrown in as he drives his trusty "Ford Tauntan" from one end of the country to the other.

But he should like the blues. Strike one...

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