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Chuck Klosterman Books In Order

Publication Order of Standalone Novels

Downtown Owl (2008) Hardcover  Paperback  Kindle
The Visible Man (2011) Hardcover  Paperback  Kindle

Publication Order of Collections

Raised in Captivity (2019) Hardcover  Paperback  Kindle

Publication Order of Non-Fiction Books

Fargo Rock City (2001) Hardcover  Paperback  Kindle
Sex, Drugs, and Cocoa Puffs (2003) Hardcover  Paperback  Kindle
Chuck Klosterman IV (2006) Hardcover  Paperback  Kindle
Killing Yourself to Live (2008) Hardcover  Paperback  Kindle
Eating the Dinosaur (2009) Hardcover  Paperback  Kindle
I Wear the Black Hat (2013) Hardcover  Paperback  Kindle
But What If We're Wrong? (2016) Hardcover  Paperback  Kindle
Chuck Klosterman X (2017) Hardcover  Paperback  Kindle

Charles Klosterman is an American essayist and author who writes on American popular culture. He has written for ESPN.com and Esquire and worked for the New York Times where he wrote “The Ethicist” column. He currently has more than ten works of fiction and non-fiction. In 2002 he was the recipient of the ASCAP Deems Taylor award for music criticism. Charles was born to Florence and William Klosterman in Breckenridge, Minnesota and grew up on a farm in North Dakota. He went to Wyndmere High School before he proceeded to his college studies in 1994 at the University of North Dakota. After graduating from college he worked as a journalist in Fargo and then worked for the Akron Beach Journal In Akron, Ohio as an art critic and reporter. Other papers he has written for include The Washington Post, The Guardian, The Believer, The New York Times Magazine and Esquire. While he was initially known for his rock pieces, he has also done a lot of sports writing with ESPN. He was among the founding members of the defunct pop and sports culture website Grantland, where he was consulting editor. He published his first work “Fargo Rock City: A Heavy Metal Odyssey in Rural North Dakota” in 2001. It was a novel about the history of rock music particularly the glam metal of the mid-1980s. His first work of fiction was “Downtown Owl: A Novel” which he published in 2008. He also wrote “Raised in Captivity” a collection of 34 essays in 2019.

Charles Klosterman has established his name as a pop culture writer with his four works of nonfiction and years of critically acclaimed presence in the magazine world. In “Downtown Owl” Klosterman strikes a perfect balance between the profound and the funny while creating a satisfying character study. Klosterman’s critical awareness of small-town America shines through in the masterpiece. He is an author full of wisdom, pathos who brings his wit and cleverness to bear. He does his best to expose the terrifying confusion inside his characters. He is so good at seeing past the evasions of the characters and makes stabbing insight calls into human nature. In the second novel “The Visible Man” he draws rich characters in a dry, expressive and funny way that takes the absurdity of society to a new level. The New York Times bestselling novel is themed on how media transforms reality, the dissonance of self-perception and the meaning of culture.

“Raised in Captivity” the third fictional work by Charles Klosterman is one of his best ever. Chuck does not beat a retreat in this novel as he writes about alternate realities that explore albeit obliquely what it means to live in the modern world. It starts right from the subtitle “Fictional Nonfiction” after which the author goes on to tell absurd stories of where society is headed and where it is. In one of the stories, someone invents an algorithm to delete some specific Wikipedia entries permanently. In another, a newly invented medical procedure makes it possible for expectant mothers to channel the pain to their husbands. In what may be the most “Black Mirror” of all the stories named “Reality Apathy” two friends discuss the authenticity of the images they encountered during the day. It is a great set of 34 essays that show just how good of a critical mind Charles Klosterman is.

“Downtown Owl” the first fiction work by Charles Klosterman is set in a nonexistent town named Owl in North Dakota. Disco is out of fashion, punk was never a thing and cable has never been heard of. There is not much of a pop culture unless you are content with counting alcoholism and grain prices. Most of the people work for most of their lives, impregnate teenage girls, hate the government and then die. But not everything is as bad as it seems and in fact, it can be perfect in some instances. Mitch Hrlicka is on the high school football team and worries that he may be too weird. Julia Rabia is a new resident in Owl who is known for her love for free alcohol. She just fell in love with a weird bison farmer whose favorite thing is listening to Goats Head Soup and loathing himself. Another interesting character is Horace Jones who has been living in Owl for seven decades. He thinks about his deceased wife, drinks a lot of coffee and understands the reality of the times. They all understand each other completely even though they have never met. The novel is a dark, comedic, and unpretentious story that is akin to “The Last Picture Show” combined with “Friday Night Lights.” It tells the story of how it is to live in a society where there is not much difference between violent reality and rural mythology. It deals with the issue of what does it mean to be normal.

“The Visible Man” is Klosterman’s second work of fiction. It is full of transcriptions, correspondence and interspersed with notes that catalog a relationship based on fear and curiosity. It is a study in all of Charles favorite themes such as the existential contradiction of normalcy, the complexity of voyeurism, the influence of media and the consequence of culture. The novel is set in Austin, Texas where Victoria Vick gets contacted by an unlikable and cryptic manner who thinks that his situation is unfathomable and unique. Over time he shows himself to be paranoid and he thinks that he has a multifaceted set of delusions. He believes he is a scientist that has managed to steal cloaking technology from a defunct project by the US government that he has used to make himself invisible. He also thinks that with his invisibility, he can observe random individual’s daily activities, particularly when they are vulnerable and alone. Vick is unsure of his honesty or motives but is obsessed with him and his disturbing and increasingly bizarre tales. Over time it threatens her own identity, her marriage, and her career.

“Raised in Captivity” by Charles Klosterman has some great stories that expose the fault lines in our current society. They are topsy-turvy stories though the irony in the world that he writes about easily parallel our own society to produce eerily familiar characters. While the world is full of informational ubiquity our instincts have been stunted by the increasing attack on facts on public discourse. Just like the flying man who faces up to a puma in the plane’s lavatory the lack of certainty and conviction in modern life makes many of us freeze when we need to act. Even as technology may have advanced that people are now organized in huge networks, it is harder than ever to achieve genuine human connection. As such, a man is manipulated by a psychiatrist who says that it is impossible to cry when eating something delicious and new and hence he goes on to break up with his girlfriend while eating an exotic duck dish. Other ideas that some of the characters include self-improvement through lupicide, purgatory, and time travel.

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