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Eating the Dinosaur Hardcover – October 20, 2009

4.0 out of 5 stars 74 customer reviews

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Editorial Reviews

From Publishers Weekly

In his new essay collection, author and cultural commentator Klosterman (Chuck Klosterman IV) parallels Kurt Cobain with David Koresh, Weezer with Warner Herzog and Ralph Nader, and posits a future in which Unabomber Ted Kaczynski's manifesto is viewed as "the most prescient work of the 1990s." In short, there is something to excite and/or enrage any reader engaged with popular culture in the last 20 years. One of few cultural essayists to enjoy a wide readership, Klosterman's Lester Bangs-lite approach is frequently engaging, if scattershot; too often, he engages in fleeting pop-culture references that evoke the laziest kind of critical cred-grubbing (a typical throwaway jab at indie band TV on the Radio leaves readers with no idea what criticism, if any, Klosterman is leveling). Klosterman even neglects to engage some of his subjects on their artistic merits, such as Nirvana's final album, In Utero: after making much of the disc's pre-release hype, he all but refuses to discuss his reaction as a listener. Even with the inclusion of an article on football (which he admits will turn off "40 percent" of his readers), Klosterman never ventures outside of his comfort zone; though he thrives on challenging his readers, he fails to challenge himself.
Copyright © Reed Business Information, a division of Reed Elsevier Inc. All rights reserved.

About the Author

Chuck Klosterman is the New York Times bestselling author of seven books, including Sex, Drugs, and Cocoa Puffs; Eating the Dinosaur; and The Visible Man. His debut book, Fargo Rock City, was the winner of the ASCAP-Deems Taylor Award. He has written for GQ, Esquire, The New York Times Magazine, Spin, The Washington Post, The Guardian, The Believer, A.V. Club, and ESPN, and he now writes about sports and pop culture for Grantland.com.

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

  • Hardcover: 256 pages
  • Publisher: Scribner; 1 edition (October 20, 2009)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 1416544208
  • ISBN-13: 978-1416544203
  • Product Dimensions: 8.8 x 6.5 x 0.9 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 12 ounces
  • Average Customer Review: 4.0 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (74 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #546,905 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Customer Reviews

Top Customer Reviews

By The Ginger Man VINE VOICE on October 21, 2009
Format: Hardcover
Klosterman does not go for the easy joke here; although he is consistently and absurdly amusing. Neither is Eating the Dinosaur a mere collection of pop culture references; although Mad Men, Nirvana, ABBA, The Fog of War and other mentions abound. What raises this book to a 5 star rating is the author's ability to weave humor and pop culture into genuinely insightful analyses of issues both important and sublime.

He starts with a very funny and equally revealing essay about why people answer questions during interviews. Just as the reader recognizes that this is not nearly as obvious a matter as it seems on first blush, Klosterman enters into a discussion of the nature of truth and of selfhood. Errol Morris contributes this gem: "I think we're always trying to create a consistent narrative for ourselves. I think truth always takes a backseat to narrative." (This would explain why each of my satellite radio news channels tells me about events in seemingly different worlds.)

Klosterman is less serious but just as interesting in exploring the challenges inherent in time travel. Even it were possible, he argues, the only reason to do so would be to eat a dinosaur.

His dissection of advertising through the medium of Mad Men and Pepsi is subtle and persuasive. He tries to convince us that we understand we are being conned by the ad. However, we reward the message that does the best job of setting the hook because we want to be a part of the process.

His best piece finishes the book and rather courageously tries to resurrect the Unabomber's arguments in Industrial Society for the Future without creating any sympathy for Ted Kaczynski.
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Format: Hardcover
I've read (and generally enjoyed) all of Klosterman's books (even the novel), so whenever he has a new one, I pick it up right away. I tore through this skimpy one in about two days, and on first read was disappointed to find it to be among the least engaging of his work. I say "first read" because I'm kind of tempted to set it aside to revisit in a year or so. The problem with Klosterman is that he is usually so entertaining that one tends to read him quickly, eager to come across the next clever line or hilarious juxtaposition. But in the case of this book I realize that I may not have wholly engaged with the larger ideas he's writing about. And since many of the essays in this book take on bigger themes than those his previous books, it might be worth a second, slower read.

That caveat established, my initial impression is that this is Klosterman's weakest collection. Yes, is has the trademark humor, clever turns of phrase, and entertaining contrarian pronouncements. But the humor's not as everpresent, more of the pronouncements struck me as definitively wrong, and the level of navel-gazing seems to be ratcheted up. What I mean by that is most of his earlier work felt like the ideas and observations were just gushing out of his head, almost uncontrolled. Here, he seems to be working a great deal harder to figure out just what it is he's trying to say, and what that says about him. On the plus side are essays like "Something Instead of Nothing," a genuine attempt to understand why people answer interview questions. Another good one is "Oh, the Guilt," a rambling but interesting attempt to link the personalities of Kurt Cobain and David Koresh with the concept of authenticity and their resulting fates.
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Format: Hardcover
On its face, just like the best of his other books, Eating the Dinosaur appears to be a book about the mundane and the fleeting. However, underneath that glossy surface, there are insights into our cultural ethos that are unmatched by other modern works. The essays include:

Something Instead of Nothing: Why do people answer questions? For who's sake? What does that say about us? This is far more interesting than it sounds at first and, I think, provides insight into the current human condition. Interviews and answering questions are odder than you would think.

Oh, the Guilt: What do David Koresh and Kurt Cobaine have in common? Really interesting look at what makes self-made cultic leaders and culturally-created messianic figures different. Great examination of the Waco disaster as well - definitely want to read more about it after reading the little bit included here.

Tomorrow Rarely Knows: An essay about why time travel is impossible. Good, but the information is not very original. I had heard most of this before, but interesting none the less.

What We Talk About When We Talk About Ralph Sampson: Society's Reactions to Public Failures. As a lifelong Houston Rockets fan, I was excited to see this essay. Though the premise and the conclusions are valid, this essay on failure and how it is viewed by society ultimately comes up short. The circuitous route that Klosterman takes to get to his point has a few too many curves.

Through a Glass, Blindly: Voyeurism. The most interesting part of this essay were the discussions of the Hitchcock movies Vertigo and Rear Window. An understanding look at why we watch other's lives. The conclusion that Klosterman comes up with here is right on.
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