Killing Yourself To Live

ISBN: 0571223974
ISBN 13: 9780571223978
By: Chuck Klosterman

Check Price Now


Currently Reading Essays Favorites Humor Memoir Music Non Fiction Nonfiction Pop Culture To Read

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


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!


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.


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.


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.


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.

Scott Huizenga

In this round, Chuck Klosterman expands a journal article into a book narrative of his cross-country trip to seek out the death sites of multiple rock stars. Unsurprisingly, he focuses most of the narrative in the Midwest, from where he hails. Also, unsurprisingly, he delivers some memorable one-liners and anecdotes mixed in with many throw-away references to KISS, Fleetwood Mac, and pop culture generally. The most refreshing aspect of Klosterman is his unapologetic focus on pop culture and rock music. For the most part, he is unpretentious (although I don't understand all the hating on Jim Morrison). He tries to deliver his references in a way that he or the reader attempts finds deeper meaning by way of analogy. But, I think even Klosterman realizes it is largely a joke. This, like most of Klosterman's material, is pretty much like pop culture in general. It is largely throw-away material. But, you generally enjoy it while it lasts. And, you usually will find one or two nuggets to carry with you for a long time.


I barely got through this. The author is too full of himself. Constantly on about every woman he fucked or how the woman he wanted did something so horrible that he didn't want to be her friend, but he cant tell the reader what it is, you just have to trust his douchey opinion. Get this book away from me.

Susie Delaney

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

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.

Dennis Burke

Amazing. I Pushed this author off for such a long time only to regret it. If you haven't read Klosterman yet, take my recomendation... He's amazing

Alex V.

I got a comment on an article once that said "Fuck Chuck Klostermand and his bullshit intellectualism, Cook is the new crown prince of music journalism" and who am I to disagree with SeductiveBarry's astute assessment? Ever since then, though, I've had a weird rivalry with Chuck Klosterman that, much like the romances exacted and protracted in this book, is completely one sided with myself as the hopeless loser, so outclassed that my opponent is likely unaware there is even a contest going on. I read this book in spurts over the last 6 months, basically a chapter or two every time I found myself at the bookstore for an extended period of time which has allowed me to slowly digest what is wrong with it: 1) For a critic, he has rather pedestrian tastes in music. His insight is honest and dead-on, but his subject matter generally seems undeserving of the pedestal he erects.2) This book is near wholesale rip-off of Ross McElwee's rather singular film Sherman's March, which came out 20 years before this book. Both follow through on a preposterous, dubious quest (Klosterman visits the sites of rock star deaths, McElwee retraces Sherman's march to Atlanta) only to use it as a vehicle for visiting old girlfriends and then sitting in hotel rooms reminiscing about them. But that is excusable, in that anyone with a soul and any creative talent wants to do their own Sherman's March after seeing it. McElwee is more insightful, but Klosterman is funnier and ultimately more human in the end.What's right about it is more important:1) He is funny as hell, up there with David Sedaris and John Waters as the funniest modern writers talking about their art/selves.2) This book makes me want to write more, and write more about writing, and then write more about that unafraid of how meta one can go before one finally implodes. I wanted to tear through the ending so I could write this. but, most of all3) He can project his heart with pinpoint accuracy on the reader. You fall in love with these woman that you feel you fail to know very well in the same way he fails to know them. He can make a Beckett scene out of being stoned in a Montana hotel laundromat and classical literature out of Def Lepperd .4) He's a good enough writer that he made me write this in pathetic mimicry of the tone of the book.

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!


If my enjoyment of a book can be measured in reading speed, this is one of the most enjoyable books I've read in a long time. I simply couldn't put it down.Now, I may be biased. I think Chuck Klosterman is totally likeable because I think, more than most people I read, he thinks like I think. And I think a lot of people have this private thought when they're reading him. Here is this nerdy guy who throws around pop culture references like sprinkles on the cupcake of his own self-deprecating over-analyzing sadness. And frankly, I think we all feel that way sometimes.But I can also see how other people might not like Klosterman. And the book isn't perfect. It moves around a lot, inserts references that aren't always clear, but thats part of its charm. Its like Klosterman wrote a particularly funny diary for us about this road trip he went on and reading it made everyone feel a little better about the times they can be a little self-absorbed or monomaniacal or just plain bad at communication.Klosterman is a reflection of all of us at our most earnest and sometimes most awkward.Now, this book is ostensibly about rock star death but I really think its about the death of one's self throughout life. How certain chapters have to be closed in order for new one's to be started. On this theme, Klosterman is poignant and heartfelt, in his own way, and it really is what makes the book so worthwhile.This book, as well as Klosterman in general, comes highly recommended. And when you read it, and fall in love with it, be sure to feel super envious of my autographed copy.

Mike Lindgren

As a longtime admirer of Chuck Klosterman’s writing on pop music and culture, it pains me to report that his latest book, Killing Yourself to Live: 85% of a True Story, is a dismal, shoddy piece of work. The premise is promising: Klosterman sets out on a cross-country road trip to visit all of the sites of rock ’n’ roll’s long, rich history of death. It seems a brilliant idea — Klosterman’s combination of irreverence and curiosity make him the perfect candidate to unseat the holy-pilgrimage seriousness (and pathos) of most writing on rock ’n’ roll tragedy. It doesn’t take long for the project to turn sour. Here’s the problem: Klosterman is used to skating by on the wit and originality of his own personal world-view; in his last collection, Sex, Drugs, and Cocoa Puffs, his observations on MTV, pornography, video games, and so on, emerged from a perspective that led him to some surprising conclusions. There was a sense of play, of intellectual gamesmanship, that was fresh and engaging. In Killing Yourself, however, he’s become self-reflexive to the point where he can no longer discriminate between what is valuable and what is piffle; it’s all self-narrative. If he’s looking at something, he thinks his reaction to it — how it affects him — automatically matters simply because it’s him, Chuck Klosterman, looking at it. He has become too lazy and uninterested to make any serious effort at thinking or observing and analyzing what a specific site or incident might mean, and falls back on relaying what it means to him, at that moment. The most devastating element here is the incomprehensible decision to let Klosterman devote much of the book to pseudo-Hornby writhing about the three (!) women with whom he’s currently involved (that is, either sleeping with or wanting to sleep with). Aside from being, at times, downright creepy, it’s both lazy and irrelevant: as smart and funny and interesting as Chuck Klosterman is, I couldn’t really give two shits about his love life. His self-absorption on this count goes so far as to include a chapter-long conversation between the three women and himself that takes place entirely in his head. What’s sad is that he seems to realize this; the book closes with an actual, real-world conversation between the author and one of his female colleagues at Spin, who urges him not to become “the female Elizabeth Wurtzel.” At this point, one tends to agree wholeheartedly with the criticism, and Klosterman’s only retort is to tell her that “her disdain can only be voiced if I do the opposite of what you suggest.” It’s pre-emptive critical damage control. It’s embarrassing.It is unsettling to see how turning Klosterman loose on such a promising theme brings out his worst instincts as a writer, because his feature pieces for Spin are often brilliant. A perfect example was his reporting on the Rock Cruise, one of those only-in-America phenomena wherein 40-year-old couples pay to hear REO Speedwagon and Styx perform on a boat. It is hard to imagine a riper opportunity for superiority and ridicule, yet Klosterman never condescends to these people — working-class Midwesterners who are paying money to see over-the-hill versions of the two of the most reviled bands in rock history — and in the end lends both the bands and fans an odd kind of dignity. It is frustrating to know that the author is capable of such insights and then to slog through 235 pages of crap that wouldn’t make it onto a Weezer B-side. One can only hope Killing Yourself was just something he needed to get out of his system.From THE L MAGAZINE, July 20 2005

AJ Griffin

...and Mr. Klosterman and I officially fall in love. If you're going to date me, you should read this book. If you want to learn how to smoke marijuana resin using parts of your car, you should read this. Don't read this book if you have epilepsy.

Share your thoughts

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *