Thursday, June 23, 2005

BOOK SOUNDTRACK: Killing Yourself to Live (85% of a True Story) by Chuck Klosterman

Book Soundtrack: Killing Yourself To Live

Killing Yourself to Live: 85% of a True Story
This was an easy choice in terms of keeping Drake's soundtrack feature going. As a fledgling "idiot blogger" (a term used in "Killing Yourself..."), I'll say up front that this is not a review. I selected this book because: 1. I needed to do this soundtrack feature. 2. I thought it would have a lot of music in it and that I'd enjoy it. 3. I knew I could get a copy of it quickly. So what I'll try to do is give you an idea of what to expect if you read it.

In "Killing Yourself to Live," Klosterman, who's a senior writer for Spin magazine, chronicles a twenty-one day road trip in a rented Ford Taurus. His goal is to visit sites that hosted the downfalls of rock stars. For the most part, this means where they breathed their last (Kurt Cobain, Duane Allman, members of Lynyrd Skynyrd), although in the case of the late Sex Pistols' bassist, Sid Vicious, it's the Chelsea Hotel in New York, where Vicious apparently stabbed to death Nancy Spungen. Of course, Klosterman is expected to write an article about this trip.

Klosterman is an ideal candidate to get his "death on," because, as he points out, "I don't want to die, but I adore the idea of being dead." It doesn't hurt that he also enjoys dining at roadside staples such as Cracker Barrel and Outback Steakhouse. But what's the point of the article he's writing? As he tells an ectomorphic, Kafka-reading waitress in a North Carolina Cracker Barrel, "I don't know if there is a point... I mean there will be a point, I assume, but I don't have one yet. I'm hoping the story will just be this hazy, morbid trip across America. Kind of like a dream. I want to write something that feels like an unsentimental dream."

There is clarity amid the haze as Klosterman deals with three relationships that may, or may not, be headed for Elvis's commode. The book finally becomes more about love and how each broken relationship in his life makes him feel as if he's dying little by little. Klosterman compares various breakups to gangland executions, plane crashes and massive strokes. Grim as this sounds, he often finds reasons to remain hopeful. After all, stroke victims sometimes recover, and there's always the chance a search party will find survivors of a plane crash.

The trip itself is not all gloom. There's plenty of music (600 CDs in the trunk of the Taurus), lots of fried food with gravy, a little cocaine, and an Uma Thurman lookalike who takes an early a.m. walk on a steep roof in high heels. Also impressive to probably no one but me, Klosterman somehow manages to compare himself to Jerry Rice, Sergei Bubka, and Franka Potente in a single paragraph.
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Soundtrack (not everything available on rhapsody.com)
1. Sex Pistols -- Bodies
2. Petula Clark -- Downtown
3. Radiohead -- Lucky
4. Wilco -- War on War
5. Drive by Truckers -- Shut Up and Get on the Plane
6. The Replacements -- Bastards of the Young
7. Led Zeppelin -- Heartbreaker
8. Nirvana -- Something in the Way
9. Fleetwood Mac -- I Don't Want to Know
10. Rod Stewart -- The First Cut is the Deepest
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Largeheartedboy's Book Notes with Chuck Klosterman - Rhapsody playlist, tracklisting.

Previously:
Novel Soundtracks: Drive Like Hell
Novel Soundtracks: Fortress of Solitude

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5 comments:

J Shifty said...

Hey there, Dallas. A regular reader here checking in to say thanks for the posts in a different vein. The Chuck Brown post was most informative for this out-of-towner.

I whipped up a playlist of tracks from the novel soundtrack that are Rhapvailable, to complement your list. Cheers!

Killing Yourself To Live

the Happy Booker said...

Chuck Brown post rocked. You've been a cool guest blogger. Will you cover my site next?

largehearted boy said...

Great post, dallas, you can compare this to Chuck's "Note Books" playlist when I post that Thursday.

Dallas Hudgens said...

Thanks, everyone. I had a great time filling in this week. I really appreciate J. Shifty complementing the soundtrack. I was out of town when I wrote that post, and my laptop was giving me some serious problems, so I was having trouble accessing my rhapsody account.

drake leLane said...

Wow...thanks Dallas!

Methinks I should go on vacation more often ; )