Killing Yourself To Live

ISBN: 0571223974
ISBN 13: 9780571223978
By: Chuck Klosterman

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About this book

Travelling from New York to Mississippi to Seattle, Chuck Klosterman chases rock 'n' roll and death across a continent. 21 days later, and after three relationships, an encounter with various snakes, and a night spent snorting cocaine in a graveyard, this is his account of American culture and the meaning of celebrity.

Reader's Thoughts


I wanted this book to be a Sarah Vowell's "Assassination Vacation"-style account of the US history of rock n roll deaths as narrated by the typically witty Chuck Klosterman. That seemed like that's what this book was going to be. BUT IT WAS NOT. RNR history occupies maybe 2% of this book. 3% = talking about how great he thinks Radiohead is, 3% = talking about how great he thinks KISS is, 10% = talking about writing about music for a living and how much he hates the idea of this roadtrip, 30% = boring stories about Chuck's ex-girlfriends (seriously "we talked about horses" is a line that is included in this book TWICE), 5% quotable funniness, 47% Chuck gets stoned, alone, and denies he is an addict.I kind of can't see how anybody can complain about two weeks of road tripping. But whatever, Chuck's world is not my world.Additionally, I find it totally disgusting and reprehensible that Klosterman says retarded people are unlikeable.p.120, Chuck's having an imaginary conversation with his ex-girlfriends: " 'What would happen if I stopped being funny? What if I became retarded? What if I stopped listening to you whenever you talk about why you like shopping for boots? How long would it be before you stopped talking to me?''That, in a nutshell is why you don't understand what 'Layla' is about,' Quincy would interject. 'Diane brought up qualities that make someone physically unattractive. You are bringing up qualities that make someone unlikable.'... Quincy is making a valid point, if I do say so myself."Where were his editors? Where's the content of this book? I prefer when Chuck sticks to writing about pop culture and NOT his female troubles since he clearly has serious, serious issues with women. (See my review of "Fargo Rock City" for more on that point: )Ultimately, the author should have listened to his friend Lucy Chance.


Mr. Klosterman's friend and colleague: "I don't understand why you would want to produce a nonfiction book that will be unfavorably compared to Nick Hornby's High Fidelity."That comparison is not so unfavorable; it is incredibly apt. Book was an enjoyable Sunday afternoon read, though disconcerting that it was only written in 2003. The references and musical selections make it seem like it should be older. I mean, Steve Miller Band and Ratt--to which he VOLUNTARILY listened! For shame!

Ryan Wilke

Disparity has never been so heartwarming or relatable... Never. I say that with pure affirmation. I honestly couldn't have finished this book at a more perfect time in my life. As this moment stands I am heartwrenched beyond fathomable understanding: the woman I absolutely love continues to falter from me and quite possibly herself, while I sit here imprisoned in a certain environment unable to help her as I need to, as she may in fact need me to. So I'm here, existing in sheer agony, that is true and unchanging. Yet after reading, I feel surprisingly sustained... Not because I feel better because I actually feel worse through said relation of pain. However, my sustainment seems to come from a very deep place outside of general expected realizations. What I do realize, is the day I finally stop dying inside is probably the day I'll finally understand why I died. I can't see the day either; it still feels like a literal forever. What I fortunately can see is my understanding being formed ever so slowly, and that gives me both a sense of patience and purpose I couldn't have conspired myself.If you're confused about love and life as both are surely of the same beating heart; read this book and you won't be sorry. If you're not confused, try reading anyway. Perhaps you should be... perhaps confusion is understanding. Perhaps without it we're only lost in lifeless comfort. Thanks Chuck, you're a fucking genius!

Stressed Out Student

This being my first Chuck Klosterman read, I didn't know what to expect. I'd heard that Drugs, Sex, and Cocoa Puffs was good, but this was cheaper at the bookstore I went to. I really like his writing style. He's such a pop culture nerd and he's oh so human. He's a borderline neurotic, based on his writings, and so easy to relate to in many ways. It's enjoyable even if you have no idea who 90% of the rock stars are that he references. I'd imagine getting the references would make it all the more enjoyable, but it's definitely not necessary. It doesn't really have a large overarching point, but the observations he makes and the thought processes he goes through a delicious food for thought. Recommended as a nice, leisurely read on the bus.

Arjun Mishra

I cannot really say that I care much for the premise of Klosterman's trip: visiting the death places of seminal musicians. I'm slightly interested in the societal reactions and beliefs surrounding the deaths, ergo the significance of Cobain's death. I'm more interested in Klosterman's story and most interested in his drawing of the world through basketball and KISS. That I can identify and understand. I read Klosterman for the music and basketball, hence I love his Grantland articles. The travel can be informative, especially when he travels to isolated places that I have little more than an inkling about: Montana, Fargo, Washington, Minnesota. It seems like he undertook a physically and mentally tasking trip, but for which reason I don't know. I certainly don't demand it of him. I desire the musical and tangential analyses, but I don't require the examination of famous rock stars death sites to relate those stories. If other readers do, then great, but the premise is still an excuse to me.The geography being what it was, I appreciate some of the discussion on musical deaths. Dying is an important part of being a musician and future remembrance, hence Cobain once again. Elvis' legacy seems to be his early death. We could go on. If a rock star does not die young, he inevitably turns into a caricature of an old man (or woman in Steven Tyler's case). The rock star needs to be memorialized young.

Michael Chaddock

I read an excerpt from this in a magazine - probably Rolling Stone or Spin - and liked it a lot. I'd read some Klosterman columns before and liked them, so I figured this would be a fun read.Sadly, Klosterman seems to think that his personal life is just as interesting, if not more so, than tales of rock star destruction. His life is not interesting and he seems like a jerk. One of the most disappointing reading experiences I've ever had and the first time I stopped reading a book out of disgust. It turned me against Klosterman for life.No stars.


Chuck Klosterman.....not sure how to describe this. He's. He's a stream of consciousness writer which can be hit or miss with me. For example, I hate Charles Bukowski, but I tend to like Henry Miller. I think Chuck Klosterman is snarkier and much funnier than the former and as interesting as the latter. It's hard for me to credit stream of consciousness writers with much as they pride themselves on writing off the top of their heads. They're like buying a square mile of ocean from a chef and agreeing you'll eat whatever you find in there and attribute the tastiest mouthfuls to the previous owner. That said, I'm delighted by him. He's sort of a post-modern naturalist romantic. He's living in a world which isn't anything like the world of the 19th century poet -- it's hard to explain but he doesn't think that he will never see a poem as lovely as a tree. That said, he sees meaning -- almost desperately -- in everything around him. All of his relationships, rock music, drug addled exchanges, chance encounters with random people. And when I wasn't laughing at his writing, I was finding meaning in them too. Unless I thought they were just pointless. Which also happens. But for me, not much.

Susie Delaney

This was a quick read and appealed to my music nerd side. Minus one star for being a typical douchey boyfriend type.


I love how full of shit this guy is.For all of the people who hated this book because they thought Klosterman has 'terrible taste in music' I think they might have skimmed over this one part:So many of the rock concerts I've attended have been filled with people who were there only to be there, who just wanted to be seen by other people who were there only to be there... ... Half the people who attend concerts only go so that they can tell other people that (a) certain shows were amazing, and (b) other shows sucked.I couldn't put this down and I even tried to draw it out so that it lasted longer but it was still a pretty lame book, if that makes any sense. I liked some of the ideas and he's certainly quotable. Still, it mostly felt like he was dragging me behind him on this trip. At one point I even forgot he was on a trip, which bummed me out. I get so excited about these people who travel across the country and in the end they disappoint me. What this book really got me thinking about wasn't all the dysfunctional relationships I've had or have had the potential to have (which is all he wanted to talk about) but really that I just want to travel across the country and see some stuff. So, thanks for that Chuck. Another quote for the 'road' (haw)Art and love are the same thing: it's that process of seeing yourself in things that are not you. It's understanding the unreasonable.


Let me start by saying I generally like my job. Sure, there are days where I show up and can't wait to go home, but in general, it's alright. That being said. I work in a cubicle for a big corporation in Austin, TX. I _am_ what the movie Office Space is about. When that movie first started to gain cult status, every fucking person I worked with would say "Oh, man, that movie is about me." Really? Really? You just quit going to work one day? And then you asked out waitress? And then you stole hundreds of thousands of dollars from your employer? And then you quit your job and went to work construction? Because if not, I'm pretty sure that movie is not "about you." But ANYWAY, if I were to follow my Office Space journey it would not end with a burned down building and me shoveling crap into a wheelbarrow, it would end with me being Chuck Klosterman. Now, I have neither the desire nor the talent nor the skill nor the inclination to really do what he does. I mean, the sitting around all day doing drugs and drinking beer and writing about whatever bullshit popped in my head, that I think I could do. But the work it actually requires to write good (sic) and intersting is not really all that appealing to me. So thanks, Chuck, for following the dream that I am too lazy to.But, seriously, KISS? You love KISS?

Anna Bond

Once again, Chuck Klosterman reveals himself to be a boring, self-centered paragon of bad taste with horrible ideas about the relations between the sexes. Why do I keep reading him? The only really interesting chapter revolves around the Great White concert fire, revealing the poignancy of the men who lost friends and brothers at the show. I just wish that he would go as far as he thinks he's going into genuine critique of cultural elitism and how callously it allows us to treat each other. Many considered the Great White concert tragedy a joke because the band itself are seen as only beloved by "white trash" or "rednecks" - not the culturally aware - even subhuman. (A crowd-crushing fatality at a Smashing Pumpins concert a few years ago was treated with shocking cruelty by some of my fellows in the music industry for the same reason.) Klosterman hints at condemning this attitude but, perhaps realizing the extent his readership belong to the callous "elite" group, shies away.Classic Klosterman sexism abounds here as well. Do most guys actually think that putting women on a pedestal of otherness accomplishes anything positive? So tiresome.Also classic Klosterman: boring-ass prose. His popularity makes me sad.

Sage Bartow

Killing Yourself to Live was a very enjoyable quick read, it's a nice book to read on a Sunday afternoon when you just want to relax at home with a cup of coffee or tea, or when you're on an airplane or train. This is the kind of book that you read when you have nothing else to do and you want to be entertained. Ultimately though, your personal enjoyment of the book will be dictated by whether or not you feel like you would want to be friends with Chuck Klosterman-- because the book is saturated with his own personal experience and opinions, interspersed with tidbits of rock history. I think that i I knew Chuck Klosteman in real life he would be like a friend of a friend who I talk to at parties and find mildly likable, but who I have no real connection with, which is why I gave the book 3 stars. If you were to read this book and feel like you could actually be friends with or fall in love with Klosterman than you will probably like it more, and if on the other hand you read this book and think that Klosterman's worldview is so diametrically opposed to yours that he would be the type of person than you would silently resent or hate, or want to beat the shit out of, then you will probably not enjoy this book.


In general, I read to learn something new or for vindication. I read Klosterman for vindication: I feel smarter when a real-life writer puts out things that I have been thinking to myself. It makes me feel deep even if by rule this is shallow thinking.


Klosterman is an incredible writer, he definitely has a way with words. Unfortunately a good portion of this book is directionless, arrogant music rambling fodder. Which I still found completely interesting.


This is the book that got me hooked on Chuck Klosterman. However, none of his other books could compare to this one in my opinion. As soon as I finished this book I went right back to the beginning and read it all over again! So interesting and well written.

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