Eating the Dinosaur by Chuck Klosterman

Eating the Dinosaur

‘EATING THE DINOSAUR’


JUMP TO SECTION:

OPENING LINE:

I could really go for a nice helping of dinosaur right about now.


PUBLISHER’S SUMMARY:

Chuck Klosterman has chronicled rock music, film, and sports for almost 15 years. He’s covered extreme metal, extreme nostalgia, disposable art, disposable heroes, life on the road, life through the television, urban uncertainty, and small-town weirdness. Through a variety of mediums and with a multitude of motives, he’s written about everything he can think of (and a lot that he’s forgotten). The world keeps accelerating, but the pop ideas keep coming.
In Eating the Dinosaur, Klosterman is more entertaining and incisive than ever. Whether he’s dissecting the boredom of voyeurism, the reason why music fan’s inevitably hate their favorite band’s latest album, or why we love watching can’t-miss superstars fail spectacularly, Klosterman remains obsessed with the relationship between expectation, reality, and living history. It’s amateur anthropology for the present tense, and sometimes it’s incredibly funny.
©2009 Chuck Klosterman; (P)2009 Simon & Schuster


THE PLOT:

‘Eating the Dinosaur’ is a collection of essays from journalist Chuck Klosterman. The essays run the gamut from ABBA to Ralph Sampson, time travel to laugh tracks and several other points in between.
Klosterman doesn’t seem to be as interested in how the world works as why it works the way it does. There is a difference between these questions. A person who is worried about the how would try to explain that Ralph Sampson was a disappointment as an NBA player. A person interested in why asks why it matters that we view Ralph Sampson as a disappointing NBA player, and what that says about us as a society.
I didn’t agree with all of Klosterman’s takes. I took issue with his argument about laugh tracks. It wasn’t so much the argument but one of the assumptions he made. Klosterman doesn’t think that there’s any difference between canned laughter and the laughter generated by sitcoms that are taped in front of a live audience. Also, because this book is a few years old, we can see that, so far, his prediction that shows with laugh tracks would go the way of the dinosaur has not only failed to come to pass, but that the non-laugh track shows he mentions as being successful have actually failed in many key respects.
The fact that I don’t agree with Klosterman in all cases strikes me as being something that he would be totally fine with. I think he’d probably find it odd if I were to tell him that I agreed with everything that he said in his book. I did appreciate his essay on ABBA because I do happen to be a fan.
Perhaps Klosterman’s most compelling argument relates to how the Internet has impacted our world. If you browse my book reviews, you’ll know that this is a subject that fascinates me. Klosterman argues that the Unabomber made some valid criticisms of technology, and that by itself should be enough to get the attention of most listeners.
‘Eating the Dinosaur’ met all of my expectations. I expected that I would read some things that I really liked, some things that I didn’t like as much and some things that would make me think. The truth is that I like Klosterman because he has a unique take on many subjects that is not always conventional, and that makes him that much more compelling.


THE AUTHOR:

I first became aware of Chuck Klosterman through his work with Bill Simmons of ESPN. I always enjoy his appearances on Simmons’ podcast because I find him to be incredibly thoughtful. He looks at sports and pop culture in a way that always interests me, even if I don’t end up agreeing with his conclusions.
The fact that I always find him to be both thoughtful and engaging is what made me decide to finally sample one of his books. I find they measured up to the standards that I’d set based on my previous experiences listening to him be interviewed by Simmons. Personally, I think if I were ever to have the opportunity to engage him in conversation, I would find it to be a tremendous experience hopefully for both of us.


THE NARRATION:

Klosterman himself is the narrator, and that’s a very good thing. I don’t think anyone else could deliver his words as effectively as he does. He reads in a very conversational way and seems to be as interested in these subjects as he was when he actually put them into writing.


THE PRODUCTION:

There were a couple of things that I really enjoyed about this audio track. The first is the musical cue that they chose to open and close the book. The other thing was having some of the interview subjects, including Ira Glass, record their part of the book. It really made it memorable.
The chapter stops line up with each of the book’s essays. Other than that, the only thing of note is that the track sounds great with no noticeable glitches.


FINAL THOUGHTS:

‘Eating the Dinosaur’ is an easy recommendation for anyone who is a fan of Chuck Klosterman. If you’re not already a fan, I would suggest tracking down some of the interviews he has given to other sources over the years. He is a frequent guest on “the B.S. Report” with Bill Simmons.
I found many of Klosterman’s takes interesting and informative. I agreed with a few, disagreed with one, but generally found them all very thought provoking.


QUICK FACTS:

Title Author Narrator Publisher Genre Release Date Running Time Score
Eating the Dinosaur Chuck Klosterman Chuck Klosterman Simon & Schuster Arts & Entertainment 10/20/2009 6 hours, 38 minutes 7/10

DISCLAIMER:

A copy of ‘EATING THE DINOSAUR’ was purchased from Audible for review.

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