Killing Yourself to Live: 85% of a True Story – Chuck Klosterman

I graduated from college on a Saturday, and started full time work on a Monday. Nobody really made it clear to me that I should have taken some time off as it would be the last bit of freedom I could have for a while.  Instead I started my first real job and at this job was a guy.  One night at a coworker happy hour, the older, wiser, guy who I had been engaging with in a steady mild flirtation grabbed my hand under a table which I thought was by accident.  Until he pushed me up against and then onto my car trunk in the parking lot while kissing me, less accidentally.  I fell for the older, wiser, guy and it all culminated in some dreamy dates over the six months we worked together.  During that time I asked for a book recommendation and he gave me this book, which to this day, I read once a year.  It is still one of the only books that has ever made me laugh out loud.  I also feel like Chuck and this guy had a lot in common when it came to dealing with relationships, not always making the best choices but generally meaning well.


Get paid to go on a road trip?  Yes, please.  The book is an 85% true story about a reporter who travels the country visiting sites where famous rock icons died.  Seems a bit heavy, but really it’s an exploration of the author’s reaction to all of these places, so you get a bit of him mixed with some rock history.  The way he writes is so easy to read and enjoy, he can paint a picture quickly, most likely due to his main experience being in writing articles for magazines.

Reflection is a major theme of this book, and as I’ve re-read it through the years I get different things from the author’s thoughts on life.  When I was younger it was hard to truly understand when he describes that complicated situation of people who have been in your life, but never quite fit.  But you also are never really able to let them go, they have a piece of you, a version of you, and when you think of them you remember that version of yourself.  Example, one of my best friends in high school was a guy, and we never quite figured it out romantically, so we were just the best of friends.  He was 2 years older than me (theme here?) and when he graduated and left for college we slowly started seeing each other less and less.  But whenever I think of him, I think of carefree summers spent in basements, riding in his super old Lincoln town car, and being a typical happy suburban teen.  Guessing from our Facebook profiles today, we’d barely know or understand the current versions of ourselves, but he is where my mind wanders when music from high school comes on and I always smile.


Okay so it’s written by a dude, not helpful.  But a modern dude, whose spends much of the book exploring his relationships.  I both directly identified with some of his relationship hardships and wanted to throttle him for being so stupid, so it’s a mix.


There is a portion of this book where he is in the Midwest, the same region of the country I am from.  His description of the people there is so spot on correct, and the night at the bar he spends there is my favorite scene in the whole book, it’s very quoatable.

Also, look up some of the music he mentions from his road trip, Ace Frehley “Back in the New York Groove” is a solid song and it’s from a KISS solo album, crazy.  It’s kind of like how JC Chasez had one good single post *NSYNC, “Blowin’ Me Up”, actually you should look that up too if you missed that while Justin was beginning his world domination.


Klosterman is famous for finding deep meaning in pop-culture, and sometimes for me a song is just a song, the words sounded interesting strung together in that particular way.  Bruce Springsteen’s “Blinded by the Light” is a perfect example of this.   If you try to find meaning in that song, you have missed the point, just play it in your car on the way to the beach and let it go.  Side note, somehow that is Bruce’s only #1 song, like ever, and it was the Manfred Mann cover that charted, this is an atrocity of epic proportions.


This book is short, like read it in one night short, but I come back to it every year for a quick laugh, music suggestions, interesting musings on life, a couple eyerolls, and to see how it makes me feel this time.  I think this is the most exposed Klosterman has ever been, his other books being far less personal, so if you’ve read Sex, Drugs, and Cocoa Puffs, try this out.

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