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Fargo Rock City: A Heavy Metal Odyssey in Rural North Dakota Hardcover – May 22, 2001
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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 Mtley Cre, 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.
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.
Top customer reviews
We were both born in the same year, we both grew up in somewhat culturally isolated communities, we both love 80s hair metal, Mötley Crüe's Shout at the Devil was the record that had the biggest impact on our early teenage lives and finally, we can both karaoke Guns 'n Roses' Apetite for Destruction from start to finish. There are still some differences in our journeys from childhood to maturity, but those are mere details. I spent my teen years baking on a tropical Latin American shithole instead of freezing on a Midwestern wasteland and I had access to MTV as early as in 1982. Instead of becoming an indie rock loving hipster during College like the author I kept my metal faith in the early 90s, Nevermind notwithstanding, and moved on to extreme metal as the decade progressed, but in the end, it doesn't matter, since we both still rock to the same aquanet friendly songs when drunk.
You might say that because my teenage music related experiences are pretty similar to Chuck's I'm bound, even obligated to love this book and that is a very valid point, but that doesn't mean anyone can enjoy it, since it's very entertaining and written with an unassuming, funny and down to earth style. Since the story of a nerdy teenager using rock music as a means to escape his boring, drab day to day life and overcome his own lameness can be the story of countless people everywhere, this book transcends its limited musical scope and ultimately becomes a paean to music lovers of every genre and origin, while still managing to make poignant observations about the radical changes media and music consumption went through the 80s. Highly recommended for pop culture enthusiasts, music lovers and anyone who was a teenager during the 80s.
And what I discovered is that Klosterman is a great writer when he is writing about characters, not when writing about concepts. That's what makes his novels Downtown Owl and The Visible Man so good--Klosterman can conjure up rich, fascinating characters in just a few pages. Sadly he cannot do the same for metal music.
I would only recommend Fargo Rock City if you are/were in to metal music or if at least has some bearing on your formative years.
But Chuck Klosterman was a different breed. From the moment he first heard Motley Crue on cassette in 1982, he had found HIS music. He spent the 1980s as a devout metal-head, and largely remains one today. As an articulate writer and critic, and a fan of music largely ignored or decried, he turned his word processor to an analysis of why his favorite music was good after all, and more importantly, why it worked for him and his friends in their backwater town in North Dakota.
I loved this book. Metal was never my music but I felt a kinship with Klosterman for the absolute passion and devotion he showed for what he loved. I had my own obsessions and could completely identify with his. I enjoyed his thumbnail history of heavy metal, his analysis of the different bands, and the memoir aspects of how events in the history of the music intersected with his own life and consciousness--for example, a story in the newspaper about Vince Neil's DUI killing a member of another band (and badly wounding several other people) didn't mean that Vince Neil was a criminal or possibly going to prison to middle school Chuck--rather, the appearance of the story in the local newspaper was an odd confirmation that the music and people he loved existed in a larger world that otherwise seemed to take no notice.
I read the book straight through in one sitting--it's a fast, easy, often laugh-out-loud-funny read--and it was the kind of book where I kept reading bits and pieces to my partner. Definitely recommended to anyone who is feeling nostalgic about the metal bands of their youth, or even for those who aren't particularly fans of the music but can identify with spending one's pre-teen and teenage years obsessed with something others find stupid or dorky.
Most recent customer reviews
From a literary standpoint, the book is well-written and easy to read, with a clear, simple format that is appropriate to the subject matter.Read more