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Editor’s Pick: Chuck Klosterman


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By MATT ROSENFELD

Assistant Sports Editor

Wikipedia

WIn 2008, Klosterman was quoted saying “You grow a beard and things change.”

Everyone has a favorite writer. Mine is Bill Simmons. I am admittedly a sports geek, so the “Sports Guy,” as Bill Simmons is called, is right up my alley. But there is another writer high on my list for a completely different reason: because he makes me think in ways I have never thought before.

Chuck Klosterman is that writer.

Oddly enough, I came across Klosterman when I heard him on Bill Simmons’ podcast. The discussion he brought up, the points he made and the way he looked at things truly intrigued me. He caught my attention so much that when I had the chance, I researched him and found out he had authored six books.

This was back in 2010, and now Klosterman is at eight books: three non-fiction, two fiction novels and three essay collections. He is a columnist for The New York Times Magazine, and contributes or has contributed to numerous other magazines and websites, including Grantland, GQ and Esquire.

Klosterman’s main focus is pop culture, but he also touches on sports, film and music. He raises points that sound ridiculous at first, but after reading his essays, seem quite believable.

What pulled me in when I was researching him were his writings on sports, and in particular, one essay he wrote for Esquire in 2008, in which he discusses baseball and why we still watch it, even though it is by far the most boring of the major sports, attracts fewer athletes and is the antithesis of our instant-gratification-loving, fast-paced society.

Klosterman’s argument is that baseball remains compelling because of its unique scoring system.

“Baseball has — by far — the best scoring system in all of sport,” Klosterman writes. “It makes uninteresting contests exciting, because it a) doesn’t have a concept of time and b) distributes runs in unorthodox increments.”

This is just a taste of the kind of “out-of-left-field” take Klosterman offers on many interesting cultural topics. It is these ideas that make him so appealing to me. It started with sports. Getting to hear a fresh opinion on what consumes a large part of my life was something of which I wanted more. I do not read things that challenge my line of thinking often enough. I started reading his essays on sports, but Klosterman goes beyond sports. An example is his essay on how football is a grand example of conservatism and progressivism in the same setting. It is his uncanny ability to make me go “Wow, you know what, that’s totally true!” that keeps me pursuing his work.

Soon, I found myself reading his analysis on things like “Saved by the Bell” and how the show illustrates that the important things in life are inevitably cliché, and listening to him talk about how the industry of film watching has changed, because nowadays it’s normal to see a movie two or three times in the theater, whereas people used to see movies only once.

If you’ve ever read pieces by Malcolm Gladwell, you know that he analyzes things from such a different perspective and makes you see things you never would have seen on your own. Chuck Klosterman is like Malcolm Gladwell, but instead of delving into the world of psychology, Klosterman writes about pop culture, about sports, about rock bands, and I think that’s why everybody needs to give him a chance. He most likely has written about a topic that you will find interesting, and when you find that essay, your literary world will be changed.

His work might seem odd at first, but that’s because it’s so different. At the end of every one of his pieces, however, you feel like you have gained something: a different perspective, something new. I think that is something that we should all strive for when we read anything.

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Editor’s Pick: Chuck Klosterman