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Fargo Rock City: A Heavy Metal Odyssey in Rural North Dakota Paperback – May 1, 2002


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Fargo Rock City: A Heavy Metal Odyssey in Rural North Dakota + Killing Yourself to Live: 85% of a True Story + Sex, Drugs, and Cocoa Puffs: A Low Culture Manifesto
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Featured Author: Chuck Klosterman
Download an excerpt from Chuck Klosterman's Eating the Dinosaur and his other bestselling titles. And explore more from the author at Amazon's Chuck Klosterman Page [PDF].

Product Details

  • Paperback: 288 pages
  • Publisher: Scribner; Reprint edition (May 1, 2002)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0743406567
  • ISBN-13: 978-0743406567
  • Product Dimensions: 8.2 x 5.3 x 0.8 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 8 ounces (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 3.7 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (96 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #242,468 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Editorial Reviews

From Publishers Weekly

Klosterman's highly touted debut has as much to do with Fargo, N.D., as the Coen brothers' slice of Americabre, Fargo. That is, nothing at all, really. Misleadingly titled to cash in on Fargo's cinematic mystique, Klosterman's memoir about growing up a sexually repressed metalhead, with a humiliating (mom-dictated) Richie Cunningham haircut is actually set in Wyndmere, N.D. Klosterman starts up with a bang ("You know, I've never had long hair"), shifts gears often (from memoir to music criticism, somewhat jarringly at times), and rarely idles. Ultimately, though, Klosterman, ironic throughout the book, does not write with enough sincerity to prove his thesis "that all that poofy, sexist, shallow glam rock was important." Granted, it's a daunting task to write a hymn of praise to the genre that spawned David Lee Roth so the author wisely stretches his pop-culture references like taffy. In the final chapter Klosterman, now an arts critic for Ohio's Akron Beacon Journal, quotes a friend's definition of a "guilty pleasure" "something I pretend to like ironically, but in truth is something I really just like" to explain how he really feels about glam metal. His closing summation of what metal means to isolated kids in the heartland will strike a power chord for many readers. (May)Forecast: Klosterman has tapped a gold mine. Fans of 1980s M”tley Cre, Poison and Ratt are pushing 30 and 40 and seeking a nostalgia trip. Also, Gear magazine will run an excerpt of the book along with a conversation between Klosterman and Aerosmith singer Steven Tyler.

Copyright 2001 Cahners Business Information, Inc.

--This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.

From Library Journal

Let it be known that Fargo Rock City does not detail a burgeoning music scene in North Dakota's largest city (population: 70,000). Nor is it a yarn about a heavy metal band gigging across the frozen tundra of the Red River Valley. Rather, it's one Middle American's memoir of growing up with and loving 1980s heavy metal (e.g., Ratt, Poison, and Guns 'n' Roses). In other words, this book is for the myriad metal-heads from Fargo to Phoenix who inked "M?tley Cr?e" on their notebooks during high school study halls. The music, film, and culture critic at Ohio's Akron Beacon Journal, Klosterman uses refreshingly candid language: reading his debut is like overhearing a drunken discussion between two music fans. He nicely blends metal music theory with compelling tales of self-realization. Perhaps more than a memoir, this is a seriocomedic defense of a culture that was only cool to those who participated in it. Recommended for all public libraries, especially those in the heartland.
- Robert Morast, "Argus Leader Daily," Sioux Falls, SD
Copyright 2001 Reed Business Information, Inc. --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.

More About the Author

Chuck Klosterman is a New York Times bestselling author and a featured columnist for Esquire, a contributor to The New York Times Magazine, and has also written for Spin, The Washington Post, The Guardian, The Believer, and ESPN.

Customer Reviews

If you grew up with 80's metal, Fargo Rock City is required reading.
Justin G.
I like this book because one thing I know from reading more than one of his books is, the guy knows his music.
J. Plummer
I could write a book full of factual and analytical errors in this book.
Music Fanatic

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

16 of 19 people found the following review helpful By Robert Wellen on June 17, 2003
Format: Paperback
At first, I was a bit disappointed by the book and then I read the epilogue. Why wasn't it more of a memoir? Why was it filled with so much analysis? Then, I realized that isn't really the point of this wonderful book. Klosterman has made me a fan for life. What wins me over his unbashed honesty. I've long held that the lowest critic life form is that of rock critic. Klosterman calls them on their pretension. He hammers away at what I have always believed is that music is important if it touches you. My MP3 collection has Sinatra and Warrant. Who cares who is better, both form the soundtrack to important parts of my life. Klosterman tells some hilarious stories and his takes on music and life is so refereshingly honest that I can't stop smiling. He isn't mean or nasty--just tells it as he sees it. DOn't agree? That's ok. I learned more than I ever imagined about '80s heavy metal (some which I finally realized I liked about 10 years too late) and I suspect I would have gotten more out of the book if I had understood all the references, but I loved what I read anyway. Except for the passage where he compares the Gospels to GNR Lies, this book really does rock. Isn't that the most important thing?
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10 of 12 people found the following review helpful By Robert M. Ethington Jr. on April 24, 2001
Format: Hardcover
This funny and enjoyable book is an answer to the pop culture elitists (such as myself!) who dismiss heavy metal as ridiculous junk. By relating the social and personal impact of metal on himself and his friends growing up in rural North Dakota, Klosterman makes a compelling case that this music has an importance and meaning far beyond how it compares musically and lyrically to Dylan, The Beatles, Springsteen, and other ordained members of the Rock Canon. The sprawling text is part memoir, part free-thinking criticism, part record guide, and always hilarious.
I guess that FARGO ROCK CITY falls somewhere between Dave Eggers and Chuck Eddy, but it's really too sui generis to be so glibly catagorized. This book is for the "Rocker within us all"! Check it out....
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7 of 8 people found the following review helpful By Bart King on November 15, 2007
Format: Paperback
Chuck Klosterman can be an amusing writer, but he's such a fogey here, it's not much fun. Published in 2001, Chuck gives grudging props to "new" bands like Korn and Rage Against the Machine, but he's shaking his head uncomprehendingly as he does so. Along with older acts like Metallica, these bands commit the cardinal sin of being serious. This doesn't gibe with what Chuck thinks '80's metal was all about: The mindless good times embodied by Poison and Mötley Crüe.

Yes, Klosterman is casting himself as a polemicist, and that's not a bad thing. But in addition to not comprehending recent metal developments, he's poorly informed about pre-`80s metal (e.g., Motörhead is always "Motorhead"). Worse, his opinions are often embarrassing, even for a writer who likes to cite Entertainment Weekly as a source. Some of his more cringe-worthy statements:

"Intelligent metal fans always felt a grudging sense of respect for Whitesnake." (It's difficult to imagine a single reader agreeing.)

"Jon Bon Jovi is kind of the Robert Frost of heavy metal." (Nope, Jon is the Rod McKuen of heavy metal.)

"KISS is the second-most influential rock band of all time." (I'm speechless.)

"No one born after 1970 can possibly appreciate any creative element in rock 'n' roll." (After a hundred pages herein, this rings pretty true.)

Other groaners include:
--How Alice in Chains is NOT heavy metal (!).
--Chuck's shout-out to coolio music pioneer Lenny Kravitiz (!!).
--The ONLY good song Black Sabbath ever released post-Ozzy is "The Mob Rules." (This is asinine; "Children of the Sea, anyone?)

On the plus side, Klosterman can be very funny, and he is capable of deep analysis. Of course, that means that you're treated to entire chapters on Guns `n' Roses videos, but I guess that's preferable to picking up a copy of Entertainment Weekly.
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3 of 3 people found the following review helpful By Mark Nason on November 2, 2001
Format: Hardcover
This book is the best a music fan can ask for.
It is filled with facts and moments in music and pop culture that most of us that grew up with MTV remember. It however DOES NOT make you feel like you are reading a serious essay about why one band or genre is historically significant (like: Why Kurt Cobain was a genius). Chuck writes talks to his readers as if he;s saying "Here's what I think, and here's some facts, and if you don't agree, that's fine"
It's the perfect blend of Heavy Metal's reality, truth and legends mixed with his own personal experiences along the way.
I would reccomend this book to anyone that feels a connection with eighties Heavy Metal. You'll walk away feeling like you visited a good friend you haven't seen in along time.
If you can still sing the chorus to Ratt's "Round and Round" and if you remember Tawny Kitane of the hood of a car, you HAVE TO READ THIS BOOK!
Seriously, go read this book. You'll laugh about things you forgot about. But most importantlu, you'll remember how great heavy Metal was/is and how at times it was laughable.
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10 of 13 people found the following review helpful By Kevin D. Perry on April 21, 2008
Format: Paperback
I bought this on the recommendation of Martin Popoff, and was terribly disappointed. If you want to read an insightful, entertaining, and fair review of heavy metal, this is most definitely NOT your book. Klosterman's "appreciation" of the form starts and ends with "glam" (basically L.A. club metal and derived forms of party-hairspray rock). He spends most of the book in postmodern smirky hipster mode, which means he continually trashes the music from a musical point of view, and chooses to battle for its "validity" in the more easily defended realm of "what it meant to me as a kid." As cultural studies, this is crap, and as a book about heavy metal it is an utter waste of time. He elevates glam (Poison, GNR, Cinderella, etc) and simultaneously slags Iron Maiden, Judas Priest, Metallica and the host of other metal bands which were the meat and potatoes of any real metalhead of the time. He has no appreciation for what most metal fans would actually grace with the term "heavy metal". As you will quickly be able to tell, this is masterfully well done, in that he affirms what most of the snobs have been saying all along about metal--all the 5 star reviews are from people who are...gasp...not metal fans--whilst and at the same time pretending to be a true fan. Hipster dreck at its worst. You are better off reading Ian Christe's "Sound of the Beast", or even Walser or Weinstein's books. Better yet, check out Sam Dunn's documentary "Metal-A Headbanger's Journey." Dunn and Christe are real fans of the music, and they don't spend all their time perpetuating all the stereotypes of the form.
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