Wednesday, February 17, 2010

A Slice of Life

I must tell you, I've only read one book by Chuck Klosterman before this one. Even before that book, I was already a fan of the writer. Back when he had a column in Esquire, that's how far I've been reading his work. The first book, by the way, was Killing Yourself to Live which I bought in the discount table at Barnes & Noble after spending most of the previous year dying to read it.

Because everything I've ever read by Klosterman has been nonfiction - or at least 85% nonfiction - I was somewhat skeptical whether or not to read his novel, Downtown Owl. While I expected to encompass everything thing about Klosterman that I've come to love, I was worried that it might not hold on to my attention. Klosterman, for me, is still very much the music critic - how can he write about a small town in North Dakota and quite possibly make it interesting? Well, he managed to hold onto it. He managed more than that. 

While reading the novel, I kept getting various songs stuck in my head, leaving me wonder if he listened to them while writing. It's not that he retold stories from those songs in his book, but they seemed to fit the mood. One of those songs would No Children by The Mountain Goats - but that was just for a brief moment while reading the novel. 

And even though his wit and wisdom of popular culture - again, namely music - still graces the novel and that it still read like something Klosterman wrote (because, let's face it, if he wrote any other way, I don't think I've would've made it passed page two), the storyline seemed a little too down slope for me. There wasn't really anything that I could take from this novel like I have from others that I've read. Klosterman also remarked about this sort of reader: John Laidlaw, football coach and English teacher, read books only to imagine he was reading about himself.

What I do gather, and that's only if I read it right - yes, there is a wrong way to read a book - is that this isn't a novel in the most conventional sort. Character development happens and there's sort of a beginning, middle and end, but it feels more like a sketch. A slice of life of in the small town of Owl, North Dakota. And reading it that way, makes the book slightly more realistic. 

Even though I hated the ending, I loved the journey it took me on. Kudos to you, Mr. Klosterman. 

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