To illustrate a book review

KILLING YOURSELF TO LIVE BY CHUCK KLOSTERMAN

Chuck, a man in his late twenties, enjoys a comfortable post in a magazine in New York City, the city of glamour and art. The manager of the magazine where Chuck works convinces him, not that he needs much convincing, to go on a road trip for the sake of collecting some good content for an article. The theme for this article is a rather sensible one. It aims to unmask the meaning of death, and more specifically to answer the question of whether death has somehow the power to validate life.

During the trip, even when advised to focus on the collection of particulars on the many deaths that had taken place in the vast US, Chuck cannot help it, but obsess about three girls he has been involved with, one of whom he is “quote on quote” still dating, even if he is not truly dating her. Although the story is meant to somehow engulf mainly the pursuit of understanding death while visiting places where rock celebrities have perished, it focuses primarily on Chuck’s obsession with the meaning of love and death. – but mostly with his very self.

As the road takes from hours to days in tandem with the 600 CDs Chuck has packed up for the occasion. He doesn’t feel like searching for anything but following the road. He isn’t trying to understand anything he doesn’t already know; neither is he focusing himself towards the article that has caused this trip. For anyone who is very familiar with rock culture, the thoughts found in the middle of the book might be quite interesting if not somewhat funny. For those who; however familiar with pop culture yet not in love with it, the stories seem rather interesting and somewhat irrelevant. Yet, the references and rationalizations on those who have died after involved in the rock world may serve as some motivation to find out more.

Although the author does not describe Chuck physically; the fact that one of the three girls in question is unquestionably a muse; that his current possible girlfriend sounds like a beauty; and that Quincy had no problem whatsoever to find men, suggests Chuck is a rather handsome young man who has weirdly enough managed to mainly survive on fried chicken and alcohol without becoming fat or obnoxious. From New York, passing by Memphis, Montana, Washington, all the way to Seattle, Chuck finds himself all over and over in his car reminiscing moments he has shared with girls he has mostly slept with. Although he thinks, from time to time of the girls he never ended up in bed with. This obsession of his leads him to consider exploiting – in the words of the manager of the magazine – these women in literary terms. Being used as literary material by their lover or boyfriend seems to be the price to pay for having been involved in Chuck’s life.

The trip in itself does not make justice to the development of the story in place. What makes this book something uncannily between a page-turner and no more than a nice content-holder for a standard magazine is the way the main character seems to deal with death in a way that does not make the reader feel sad or depressed, but sort of okay with that fact. When Chuck is confronted by his own subconscious he realizes he is barely the result of pop culture, he does not make any real effort to deny it or even hide it. He is bluntly aware of his life and how it has been formed even when falling into subtle deceit from time to time.