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Empirically proving that -- no matter where you are -- kids wanna rock, this is Chuck Klosterman's hilarious memoir of growing up as a shameless metalhead in Wyndmere, North Dakotoa (population: 498). With a voice like Ace Frehley's guitar, Klosterman hacks his way through hair-band history, beginning with that fateful day in 1983 when his older brother brought home Mötley Empirically proving that -- no matter where you are -- kids wanna rock, this is Chuck Klosterman's hilarious memoir of growing up as a shameless metalhead in Wyndmere, North Dakotoa (population: 498). With a voice like Ace Frehley's guitar, Klosterman hacks his way through hair-band history, beginning with that fateful day in 1983 when his older brother brought home Mötley Crüe's Shout at the Devil. The fifth-grade Chuck wasn't quite ready to rock -- his hair was too short and his farm was too quiet -- but he still found a way to bang his nappy little head. Before the journey was over, he would slow-dance to Poison, sleep innocently beneath satanic pentagrams, lust for Lita Ford, and get ridiculously intellectual about Guns N' Roses. C'mon and feel his noize.


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Empirically proving that -- no matter where you are -- kids wanna rock, this is Chuck Klosterman's hilarious memoir of growing up as a shameless metalhead in Wyndmere, North Dakotoa (population: 498). With a voice like Ace Frehley's guitar, Klosterman hacks his way through hair-band history, beginning with that fateful day in 1983 when his older brother brought home Mötley Empirically proving that -- no matter where you are -- kids wanna rock, this is Chuck Klosterman's hilarious memoir of growing up as a shameless metalhead in Wyndmere, North Dakotoa (population: 498). With a voice like Ace Frehley's guitar, Klosterman hacks his way through hair-band history, beginning with that fateful day in 1983 when his older brother brought home Mötley Crüe's Shout at the Devil. The fifth-grade Chuck wasn't quite ready to rock -- his hair was too short and his farm was too quiet -- but he still found a way to bang his nappy little head. Before the journey was over, he would slow-dance to Poison, sleep innocently beneath satanic pentagrams, lust for Lita Ford, and get ridiculously intellectual about Guns N' Roses. C'mon and feel his noize.

30 review for Fargo Rock City: A Heavy Metal Odyssey in Rural North Dakota

  1. 5 out of 5

    Trin

    I have kind of a love/hate relationship with Chuck Klosterman. I’ve read all his books (I left this one till last, because it’s about heavy metal and that’s not a subject I’m desperately interested in) and I think he’s frequently incredibly funny and often very insightful. But man, does he piss me off sometimes. In Fargo Rock City, that occurred when he decided to share his views on female music fans. Apparently, male music fans are more loyal and less likely to get distracted by every shiny n I have kind of a love/hate relationship with Chuck Klosterman. I’ve read all his books (I left this one till last, because it’s about heavy metal and that’s not a subject I’m desperately interested in) and I think he’s frequently incredibly funny and often very insightful. But man, does he piss me off sometimes. In Fargo Rock City, that occurred when he decided to share his views on female music fans. Apparently, male music fans are more loyal and less likely to get distracted by every shiny new thing because men are more analytical and women are more emotional. Yeah. There are so many things wrong with that statement that I risk turning this into a huge rant, which I do not want to do. Leaving aside the issue of “loyalty” (well, after I point to exhibit A: the giant collection of U2 stuff that I’ve bought over the years even when a) I had no money, and b) what I was buying was redundant to stuff I already had save for an extra B-side or remix or miniposter or WHATEVER), for Klosterman to use the old “men are analytical, women are emotional” argument is so absurd in the context of this book that it’s almost hilarious. Because the ENTIRE BOOK is about Klosterman’s emotions. How much he loved heavy metal, and how much it changed and shaped his life, and how much he still loves it. How much it bugs him when people dismiss it without thought, and how he thinks it should be considered important because it was important to him. This is a raw outpouring of emotion! Only he’s a guy, so we’re not allowed to call it that. We have to call it analysis. Right. Do people—Klosterman and anyone else—really think that when women have emotions—which, y’know, we’re actually willing to admit are emotions—we don’t analyze them at all? That we’re just like, “I feel so HAPPY today! La la la!” or “I’m SAD today. I’m heading straight for the Ben & Jerry’s, no thought involved!” Or even, “I really like this band! I’m just going to listen to them and go to concerts and scream and try to sleep with the drummer AND NEVER CONSIDER MY MOTIVATIONS AT ALL.” Women are clearly brainless puppy-dog creatures! Okay, so this may have tapped into some other issues I’m having right now? But the point remains. Klosterman’s “analysis” of what makes heavy metal important is actually very minimal: it was important to him. It was important to a lot of other people. Therefore it is important in general. And I completely agree with this. I think pop culture should be talked about, because it does say a lot about people and what matters to them—and what could be more important than that? This is why I like reading Klosterman in the first place: because he recognizes that, and talks about it in an amusing manner. It’s just when he decides that he’s an expert on women that he pisses me off. (Well, and some other times. But never mind.) ANYWAY…all of that said, I actually enjoyed the rest of the book a lot. And I don’t care one iota about heavy metal. But Klosterman does make me care about other people caring.

  2. 4 out of 5

    Scott

    "In the 1980's, heavy metal was pop (and I say that to mean it was 'popular'). Growing up, it was the soundtrack for my life and for the life of pretty much everyone I cared about. We didn't necessarily dress in leather chaps and we didn't wear makeup to school, but this stuff touched our minds. Regardless of its artistic merit, Guns N' Roses' 1987 [release] 'Appetite For Destruction' affected the guys in my class the same way teens in 1967 were touched by [Lennon & McCartney]." -- the author, o "In the 1980's, heavy metal was pop (and I say that to mean it was 'popular'). Growing up, it was the soundtrack for my life and for the life of pretty much everyone I cared about. We didn't necessarily dress in leather chaps and we didn't wear makeup to school, but this stuff touched our minds. Regardless of its artistic merit, Guns N' Roses' 1987 [release] 'Appetite For Destruction' affected the guys in my class the same way teens in 1967 were touched by [Lennon & McCartney]." -- the author, on page 4 Fargo Rock City is a memoir-ish collection of twenty essays by author / columnist / critic Chuck Klosterman, a Gen X-er who grew up in a small farming community in rural North Dakota. Entering adolescence during the mid-80's, he was exposed to the burgeoning heavy metal music scene (derisively labeled 'hair' or 'glam' metal by detractors) via a sort of perfect storm trifecta of FM radio, cassettes purchased at the nearest mall, and music videos on a then-young network called MTV. Klosterman has crafted a very witty, opinionated, and - perhaps surprisingly - analytical piece of work. On occasion he relates a few non-music anecdotes and memories from his teenage years, but the main focus is intelligently discussing the era's musical output with equal parts respect and snark. While he takes appropriate potshots at some of the ridiculous lyrics and/or crazy rock star antics, he likes to drive home a valid point - that various groups' legitimate skills and talents in composing and performing the music were often overlooked, dismissed or forgotten by folks. It should also be noted that the book was by no means meant to be an all-encompassing history or timeline of this particular musical genre. Certain acts (Motley Crue, Guns N' Roses, Skid Row, Poison, Van Halen, KISS) get a lot of print time, but there were others that were not mentioned at all or received scant attention. In personal note conclusion, I didn't particularly enjoy much of my junior high years ('87-'90) but during that time I cherished my cassettes that included Dr. Feelgood, Hysteria, and Appetite For Destruction. This book brought back some positive memories of when that hard rocking, high tempo and head-banging music was new, exciting, and just seemed to be everywhere in U.S. pop culture.

  3. 5 out of 5

    J.K. Grice

    I don't like "hair" bands, but I love this book! To be fair, I grew up in an earlier time than Chuck did. My tastes ran toward Blue Oyster Cult, The Doobie Brothers, The Steve Miller Band, Creedence, ZZTOP, and many others. If you are a music lover and want a fun read, FARGO ROCK CITY is a sure thing. Rock on Klosterman! It just might be true that no self-respecting rock band ever used an organ or a piano. Well, except of course for Skynyrd.... ;) I don't like "hair" bands, but I love this book! To be fair, I grew up in an earlier time than Chuck did. My tastes ran toward Blue Oyster Cult, The Doobie Brothers, The Steve Miller Band, Creedence, ZZTOP, and many others. If you are a music lover and want a fun read, FARGO ROCK CITY is a sure thing. Rock on Klosterman! It just might be true that no self-respecting rock band ever used an organ or a piano. Well, except of course for Skynyrd.... ;)

  4. 5 out of 5

    Imogen

    I get the project, and I support the project. I was absolute4ly in love with Poison in fourth grade, and I still get super semi-ironically excited about a lot of the music he's writing about, in just the ways he describes. But Chuck, did you have to be such a douche? The section on sexism in 80s glam rock is the most tautological, non-informative series of non-arguments I've ever read, which seems to culminate in the argument 'these bands were sexist, but in capitalism, who cares?' Which is prob I get the project, and I support the project. I was absolute4ly in love with Poison in fourth grade, and I still get super semi-ironically excited about a lot of the music he's writing about, in just the ways he describes. But Chuck, did you have to be such a douche? The section on sexism in 80s glam rock is the most tautological, non-informative series of non-arguments I've ever read, which seems to culminate in the argument 'these bands were sexist, but in capitalism, who cares?' Which is problematic. (There's also an "I want to bone new school feminists but old school ones are stupid" theme running through the book.) The whole relationship of Chuck Kolsterman and money, throughout the book, just doesn't make sense to me- it's like, there's vague impressions of a critique of the American capitalist system that makes things weird and messed up, unless it's in relation to a band he likes, in which case 'wanting money' becomes this totally legitimate motive. Also 26 pages of listing albums he likes (and why) got super boring super quick. I don't know. I kept thinking, 'that is a perfect quote for my scathing goodreads review of this book!' but not marking them, which means I don't have 'em for you. And since I spent the whole book hating the author, I can't really be bothered to go looking.

  5. 4 out of 5

    Hadley

    Oh man. I really thought I would love this book, but aside from a few humorous passages, I ended up never wanting to read anything else by Klosterman. Here were my issues with the book: 1. It's not so much about heavy metal as it is about hair metal (or "glam rock" as Klosterman calls it- not sure how appropriate a moniker that is for Poison and the like but whatever) 2. Klosterman has some serious issues with women, and really came off as an asshole on multiple occasions throughout the book. 3. Oh man. I really thought I would love this book, but aside from a few humorous passages, I ended up never wanting to read anything else by Klosterman. Here were my issues with the book: 1. It's not so much about heavy metal as it is about hair metal (or "glam rock" as Klosterman calls it- not sure how appropriate a moniker that is for Poison and the like but whatever) 2. Klosterman has some serious issues with women, and really came off as an asshole on multiple occasions throughout the book. 3. I heartily disagreed with many of the musical opinions he expressed in general. There's not much to say about issue #1, other than I think Pantera was maybe mentioned once in the book, and the ratio of discussion about Van Halen/Poison/Ratt/Cinderella, etc to Slayer/Metallica/Iron Maiden etc is about 6:1. As for issue #2: Klosterman says that male rock audiences are more faithful than women, and that men are more analytical about music and appreciate it past the emotional response. If this is not an incredibly sexist remark (and completely stereotypical and untrue in my experience), I don't know what is. He makes multiple references throughout the book to women as "whores", "hookers" and rock "bitches". He says he is baffled by feminists, and that if heavy metal was sexist, "what's the big deal?" because when art is "stupid", it can't really be harmful- an incredibly weak argument and copout at once. In this passage, he also is implying that feminists would never be heavy metal fans, which again demonstrates his ignorance about women. Later, he even goes so far as to say that more men probably purchased "riotgrrl" era music than women, because men are willing to spend more on music. And at one point, he says that "Ani DeFranco (sic) is trying a little too hard to look ugly". Such a predictable dig from this guy, and just not witty at all. Issue #3: Klosterman says that talking about music is more exciting than listening to it. What?!? At one point he compares PJ Harvey to Yo La Tengo, implying that fans of one must like the other which I found to be a very strange comparison. Klosterman says that rock bands should focus on the commercial, and not try to make us think. He says that Danzig (the band) was the first legitimate band that Glenn Danzig was a member of. Klosterman says that he wouldn't take any "desert island discs" with him if he were in such a predicament, because "music isn't really essential to survival". Well sure, not literally. But if you are a rock critic who chooses to center your life around the subject, I would think it would be pretty damn important to you. Finally at one point he says that Firehouse's "Don't Treat Me Bad" is one of the 40 best songs by an American artist. And no, he's not being sarcastic. More rock criticism than memoir, Fargo Rock City still ended up being a very personal account of Klosterman's tastes and memories associated with hair metal. No, it wasn't all bad, hence the 2 star rating. But it took me serious effort to finish this one, and overall the multiple negative references toward women left a really bad taste in my mouth. Plus, I just don't think he has great taste in music-but that's just my opinion! :)

  6. 5 out of 5

    Carl

    There's something about Chuck Klosterman's writing that I literally eat up. I blew through this book in two days, ignoring my job, TV, and my girlfriend in the process. It felt like a vacation from normal book reading because I wasn't studying some socially relevant topic I'd recently deemed important to know, I was reading critical analysis of popular music that I can't help but love and obsess over. CK is perfect for guys like me: the kind of guy that tells himself he's got to read 50 more pag There's something about Chuck Klosterman's writing that I literally eat up. I blew through this book in two days, ignoring my job, TV, and my girlfriend in the process. It felt like a vacation from normal book reading because I wasn't studying some socially relevant topic I'd recently deemed important to know, I was reading critical analysis of popular music that I can't help but love and obsess over. CK is perfect for guys like me: the kind of guy that tells himself he's got to read 50 more pages of whatever non-fiction book he's set his mind to finishing so that he can reward himself by getting high and watching a movie, alone. These guys like to think analytically, but sometimes they wish it could just be about Saved By The Bell or the video for Metallica's "One". This book (and his others, I've read all the others) fills that need in (the ace of) spades. Reading this book felt like being at a party where you really didn't know too many people but you agreed to go because it was Friday and it was time to get drunk. There was good beer and after gulping half of the first beer you strike up a conversation with a stranger about the all that was metal during the decade you were in the single digits. Next thing you know, this guy's talking at length and seems to be making perfect fucking sense and your contribution to the conversation consists mostly of laughing out loud and introducing topics that he runs with. You then become mildly embarassed that you've spent the duration of the party talking to a dude you just met about 1980s cock rock. Afterwards you tell your friends of all the insights this guy seemed to possess but as you're telling them you become less impressed by the shit he came up with, and you're friends certainly aren't impressed. Still, you know you had fun, and this guy made sense. Quite the heavy metal odyseey indeed.

  7. 5 out of 5

    Kristel

    Klosterman declares early on that he wants to confront two of the most egregious accusations hurled at heavy metal: that 1) it is frivolous and disposable (therefore “not art”), and 2) it is offensive and dangerous. He argues that these two sentiments can’t both be true at the same time. Becoming a danger presupposes a potency that contradicts frivolity. It may not be elevating art but heavy metal mattered, particularly to the crop of hormonal teenagers of post-Reagan Middle America. Every chapte Klosterman declares early on that he wants to confront two of the most egregious accusations hurled at heavy metal: that 1) it is frivolous and disposable (therefore “not art”), and 2) it is offensive and dangerous. He argues that these two sentiments can’t both be true at the same time. Becoming a danger presupposes a potency that contradicts frivolity. It may not be elevating art but heavy metal mattered, particularly to the crop of hormonal teenagers of post-Reagan Middle America. Every chapter starts out with a “milestone” date, which makes probably people assume that the book is going to be a linear narrative. Instead they end up with what The New York Times called a “part memoir, part barstool rant.” The dates are merely touchstones from which Klosterman can riff, using everything from garish album covers to committing ATM fraud in trying to explain why a musical genre that many people would rather consider an aberration meant so much to him. And then we came to the part about the feminists. In the couple of months that yawned between finishing Fargo Rock City and writing this review, I’ve constantly thought about how I’m supposed to feel about Klosterman’s overwrought attempt at explaining away heavy metal’s tendency towards sexism and objectification. His defense is basically that that because hair bands were so baldfaced about their sexism, they somehow transcended their own objectifying tendencies and became commentaries on sexism. I mean, what? You can’t suddenly transcend sexism by becoming too good at it. Read more of my review here.

  8. 4 out of 5

    Dr. Detroit

    It may be sacrilege to some, and even laughable to others, but Chuck Klosterman may just filling in the gap in my medulla oblongata left by the death of Lester Bangs. "Fargo Rock City: A Heavy Metal Odyssey In Rural North Dakota" is a fascinating, insightful recounting of Klosterman's heavy metal obsession dating back to his days as a teenager in North Dakota. His unabashed love for not just metal, but rock and roll, shines through on every page, and his often hilarious stories of an adolescence It may be sacrilege to some, and even laughable to others, but Chuck Klosterman may just filling in the gap in my medulla oblongata left by the death of Lester Bangs. "Fargo Rock City: A Heavy Metal Odyssey In Rural North Dakota" is a fascinating, insightful recounting of Klosterman's heavy metal obsession dating back to his days as a teenager in North Dakota. His unabashed love for not just metal, but rock and roll, shines through on every page, and his often hilarious stories of an adolescence seemingly filled with getting his hands on the latest slab of vinyl by his Marshall-totin' heroes may be cathartic to some, not the least of whom is Klosterman himself, who, in the book's next to last chapter, cops to a serious drinking problem. Although at times a tad overanalytical on a subject which probably doesn't warrant it, I still couldn't put it down. In a perfect world, this, and not Shakespeare, would be required reading in America's high schools. I can't wait to see what he comes up with next...

  9. 5 out of 5

    Larry

    Hilarious memoir about growing up loving the most reviled music of all time.

  10. 4 out of 5

    Corey

    Chuck Klosterman and his love for heavy metal. I was sold by the title alone. From the first chapter discussion on the definition of "heavy metal" to Klosterman's closing statements about why Motley Crue will forever hold a special place in his heart, I felt as if I was part of a discussion with the author about the importance, or lack thereof, heavy metal has in rock history. I found myself throwing open my computer to listen to obscure Motorhead songs and to re-watch the November Rain music vi Chuck Klosterman and his love for heavy metal. I was sold by the title alone. From the first chapter discussion on the definition of "heavy metal" to Klosterman's closing statements about why Motley Crue will forever hold a special place in his heart, I felt as if I was part of a discussion with the author about the importance, or lack thereof, heavy metal has in rock history. I found myself throwing open my computer to listen to obscure Motorhead songs and to re-watch the November Rain music video - trying (in vain) to keep up with Klosterman's in-depth analysis of all things metal. Given that I am no expert on the subject, it was sometimes difficult to follow, and therefore I still rank Chuck Klosterman IV as my favorite of his books. That said, the epilogue (written for the paperback edition) was probably the most relatable part of the entire read. Klosterman responds to critics of his first book, defends lovers of all types of music and shits on the snobs who think people that prefer Van Halen to Sonic Youth are lower on the IQ scale. If there is one thing I hate in this world, it is when people cut in line. But I also really dislike when people cheat during trivia and pretend that they are too good for Poison.

  11. 4 out of 5

    Mark

    "Fargo Rock City" is Chuck Klosterman's first stab at writing more than an album review in SPIN or a story about Marilyn Manson in the Akron Beacon-Journal. And it shows. The premise is ambitious, and therefore admirable: An entire book about heavy metal from 1980-1990. Essentially, the hair/glam scene that was taking place in Los Angeles and how it all shaped him as a youngster growing up in rural North Dakota. It's about 100 pages too long and goes horribly askew when he takes heavy metal out "Fargo Rock City" is Chuck Klosterman's first stab at writing more than an album review in SPIN or a story about Marilyn Manson in the Akron Beacon-Journal. And it shows. The premise is ambitious, and therefore admirable: An entire book about heavy metal from 1980-1990. Essentially, the hair/glam scene that was taking place in Los Angeles and how it all shaped him as a youngster growing up in rural North Dakota. It's about 100 pages too long and goes horribly askew when he takes heavy metal out of the context of his upbringing and makes his opinions the central focus (mostly the chapter in which he ranks the top albums of the genre and the amount of money it would take for him never to listen to that record ever again). What's worse is that he worships and rants about Motley Crue and Guns n Roses. Which is fine. But then he makes the argument that glam metal was culturally important because they never wanted to be culturally important. Glam metal is smart because it's stupid. This round and round gobbledegook, of course, is a tenet in Klosterman's entire philosophy for about everything. But he would redeem himself later with "Sex, Drugs and Cocao Puffs."

  12. 4 out of 5

    Mike Schaefer

    I really like Chuck Klosterman. I don't really care a ton about heavy metal music. Several parts of this were really interesting, but because my general knowledge and interest in heavy metal is pretty low, parts of it dragged for me. Still, happier having read it than not. I really like Chuck Klosterman. I don't really care a ton about heavy metal music. Several parts of this were really interesting, but because my general knowledge and interest in heavy metal is pretty low, parts of it dragged for me. Still, happier having read it than not.

  13. 4 out of 5

    Dustin

    For sheer, tear through the pages readability this could be a "5" for me; for gritting my teeth, shaking my head and thinking "BS" this makes me want to give it a "1"--so I'm splitting the difference and giving it a 3. I've read Klosterman before but never this and metal is a favorite subject of mine. As in other works he's witty, engaging and somewhat inflammatory. But he and what he's writing about are not "metal" in the slightest. Other reviewers have commented on the gender and sexism issues For sheer, tear through the pages readability this could be a "5" for me; for gritting my teeth, shaking my head and thinking "BS" this makes me want to give it a "1"--so I'm splitting the difference and giving it a 3. I've read Klosterman before but never this and metal is a favorite subject of mine. As in other works he's witty, engaging and somewhat inflammatory. But he and what he's writing about are not "metal" in the slightest. Other reviewers have commented on the gender and sexism issues that are problematic here; like his subject matter, I don't think he's ever "intentionally" sexist and the issues he mentions that may make you think otherwise are worth debating/discussing/engaging with as I'm sure he'd want. But as for his entire supposed subject? He's clueless. He's really discussing hair bands, or pop-metal of the 1980s (really just hard rock when it's said and done). Real metal was being made throughout the time this book covers--thrash, death, black, doom, trad, prog, etc. He rarely (if ever) covers it. This is a personal memoir after all and it's his story so that's fine but there's a lot of mislabeling going on whether intentional or not. He mentions King Diamond as a hair band that no one (including him) would have remembered if not for his discovery of an old VHS tape of late night videos (note: KD are adored by metal fans all over the world to this day). He consistently mixes in Metallica with the hair bands he's talking about but labels them "speed metal" (note--they're the biggest of the "big 4" of THRASH metal), calls Slayer "death metal" (note-another of the big 4 of THRASH), writes off Danzig then segues into "nu-metal" from grunge. Whatever. It's clear he loved mainstream "cock rock" and that's fine. He writes that his subject has never really been covered in a book; he had somewhat of a point at the time of publication but thankfully a few years after this one came out Ian Christe's wonderful "Sound of the Beast" came out and in the decade that followed we've seen a slew of great journalistic and academic meditations on the subject. I know that my review reads like a nit-picky music nerd rant over "labels" and sub-genres, that's okay. But it'd be like I wrote a book about the NBA and covered the subject of 1990s arcade game "NBA Jam" instead. As a funny, frustrating, opinionated memoir of a teenage nerd in love with arena rock in the midwest this is a great read. Music history and/or journalism it is not.

  14. 4 out of 5

    Mary

    Much of this book is entertaining -- Klosterman writes about heavy metal with a lot of wit and insight that's fun to read...especially because I'm not a metal fan. If I felt strongly about any of these bands, all his potificating probably would have gotten kind of annoying. Also, he can be hilarious, but can, on the same page, be overly detailed and completely lose the thread. One of his points is how the metal audience is integral to the experience, and I think he still identifies rather strong Much of this book is entertaining -- Klosterman writes about heavy metal with a lot of wit and insight that's fun to read...especially because I'm not a metal fan. If I felt strongly about any of these bands, all his potificating probably would have gotten kind of annoying. Also, he can be hilarious, but can, on the same page, be overly detailed and completely lose the thread. One of his points is how the metal audience is integral to the experience, and I think he still identifies rather strongly with the bands. He meticulously argues how much of the metal band's standard provocation was artifice rather than conviction -- Ozzy wasn't a satanist, Iron Maiden's geeky classical-music-influenced rock was tarted up with evil symbols by record label, etc. But he takes a bunch of random, unjustified pokes at feminists, hippies, the Peace Corps, Tipper Gore, you name it. It's sort of weird. He gets all heady about metal, letting us inside his adolescent brain and really bringing to life the experience of a rural North Dakota farm kid/heavy metal fan. He's not trying to gloss over any of his teenage awkwardness either. But once he tries to place his own experiences in a context, everything he doesn't have direct experience with becomes sort of two-dimensional. I read a profile of him in Salon that was revealing. The author described him as "kind of hard to know" and "emotionally detached." She asks him if he's autistic or has Asperger's (he was not offended but amused by the questions). I think he's one of a class of Midwestern guys who live in their heads and not so much inside the rest of their bodies. They are often articulate, smart, and funny, but not particularly observant of what's happening around them. They are hard to connect with and lack some serious empathy. I think Klosterman can parse the hell out of his own experiences and, better yet, communicate them to us so clearly, it feels like we're there. But we're not really there. He's keeping us at arms length. I do appreciate his unabashed love for '80s metal, even if he did feel the need to write a whole book defending it. He writes in his epilogue: "How can the music that was the soundtrack to the lives of so many teenagers not be culturally important?" It's kind of endearing.

  15. 4 out of 5

    Eric Kalenze

    Should be five stars for the amount I enjoyed it, but I save five-star ratings for books that somehow change the way I think of things from the point of reading onward. This book didn't do that, but it certainly could have if, well, it hadn't so thoroughly REFLECTED my life: guy from rural ND (attended UND, as a matter of fact, which is in my hometown--I could take you straight to all the party houses he mentions in the book's later stages), was in his early teens as metal was exploding, spends l Should be five stars for the amount I enjoyed it, but I save five-star ratings for books that somehow change the way I think of things from the point of reading onward. This book didn't do that, but it certainly could have if, well, it hadn't so thoroughly REFLECTED my life: guy from rural ND (attended UND, as a matter of fact, which is in my hometown--I could take you straight to all the party houses he mentions in the book's later stages), was in his early teens as metal was exploding, spends lots of time thinking about the personal & social impacts of things like metal (it's valuable to me, okay?!), and on and on and on. I am heavily recommending it to my wife, however, who shakes her head and endures my late-Friday and late-Saturday nights watching 'That Metal Show' on VH1 Classic. If any book might give her a peek into why I'm still so drawn to those bands, that time, and that place in my life, this would be it. (Plus, I know she'll laugh a lot when she reads it, and I love it when she laughs.) Bravo, CK. Thanks for a great read. (And thanks to Lars Ostrom for recommending.)

  16. 4 out of 5

    RandomAnthony

    I grew up in Chicago, another urban heavy metal bastion, so I can relate to Mr. Klosterman's love/embarassment/love relationship with Marshall stacks and singers who screech like castratos. Klosterman does a great job of describing how he first discovered metal, what drew him to the music, and why he likes what he likes. Also, he loves TALKING about music, and if you love music, you probably like talking about music almost as much as listening to music. Klosterman gets it. There's a great story I grew up in Chicago, another urban heavy metal bastion, so I can relate to Mr. Klosterman's love/embarassment/love relationship with Marshall stacks and singers who screech like castratos. Klosterman does a great job of describing how he first discovered metal, what drew him to the music, and why he likes what he likes. Also, he loves TALKING about music, and if you love music, you probably like talking about music almost as much as listening to music. Klosterman gets it. There's a great story here, for metal fans, non-metal fans, and former metal fans like myself. Don't be embarassed. I won't tell anyone you used to have a Metallica t-shirt. Read the book.

  17. 4 out of 5

    Sharon

    The author overanalyzes and trashes rock music (oh excuse me Mr. Klosterman, "heavy metal") so much that it's hard to believe he supports it as much as he claims. This book could have been named after any U.S. city, because it's NOT "a heavy metal odyssey in rural North Dakota" as promised. The author shares a few personal stories related to small town life and music, but the majority of the book is essays defining heavy metal (zzzzzz) and separating (based on Klosterman's tastes, opinions and p The author overanalyzes and trashes rock music (oh excuse me Mr. Klosterman, "heavy metal") so much that it's hard to believe he supports it as much as he claims. This book could have been named after any U.S. city, because it's NOT "a heavy metal odyssey in rural North Dakota" as promised. The author shares a few personal stories related to small town life and music, but the majority of the book is essays defining heavy metal (zzzzzz) and separating (based on Klosterman's tastes, opinions and prejudices) bands into good and bad. The kids wanna rock! They don't want to be criticized and mocked.

  18. 5 out of 5

    Matt

    Don't expect a straight-up memoir, this is a mix of memoir and Klosterman's legitimate work as a music critic. And don't even attempt this if you're not really interested in hair bands! But if, like me, you grew up in rural America listening to hair bands with a straight face, even though you had no explanation as to why you thought you could relate to debauched sleezeballs from Los Angeles, well... I like Klosterman, and there are great "early Klosterman" stories in here that explain how he came Don't expect a straight-up memoir, this is a mix of memoir and Klosterman's legitimate work as a music critic. And don't even attempt this if you're not really interested in hair bands! But if, like me, you grew up in rural America listening to hair bands with a straight face, even though you had no explanation as to why you thought you could relate to debauched sleezeballs from Los Angeles, well... I like Klosterman, and there are great "early Klosterman" stories in here that explain how he came to be who he is today. He makes himself incredibly vulnerable by the tales he chose to include. The examination of the music is in depth but still hilarious. I guess the bottom line is: most people who loved hair metal know we should be embarrassed, but it was still formative for us as hormonal junior high boys (& let's face it these bands' fan base really was 90% males orbiting the legal draft age). After the funny journey this book is, I love the way Chuck sums it up: "We all want to be cool, and it's hard for some of us to admit we're not. When I tell people I came from a town that didn't have a single stoplight, I make myself smile, even though I don't know why this is funny (or why it should be embarrassing). When I admit that I spent many nights assuming I would die a virgin, I act like I'm being self-deprecating, even though I'm mostly being honest. When I remember how confused I was while I drove up and down the empty streets of my snow-packed hometown, I try to be wistful, even though I f***ing hated having no one to talk to [...] Hair metal was a wormhole for every Midwestern kid who was too naive to understand why he wasn't happy." So there is something deep about Hair bands.

  19. 4 out of 5

    Aurora Dimitre

    This is written by a guy from small-town North Dakota who loved 80's heavy metal. I am a girl from small-town North Dakota who loves 80's heavy metal. Granted, Klosterman's hometown is larger than mine (as of right now, 429 to 87, yeah, there were four kids in my graduating class), but when you're under like, a thousand it doesn't even matter. And to be honest, the North Dakota connections were cool, but more than that, Klosterman has found that perfect way to explain bands like Motley Crue, and This is written by a guy from small-town North Dakota who loved 80's heavy metal. I am a girl from small-town North Dakota who loves 80's heavy metal. Granted, Klosterman's hometown is larger than mine (as of right now, 429 to 87, yeah, there were four kids in my graduating class), but when you're under like, a thousand it doesn't even matter. And to be honest, the North Dakota connections were cool, but more than that, Klosterman has found that perfect way to explain bands like Motley Crue, and also, while he does have affection for Poison (who had one good song, maybe ), he doesn't ignore Warrant, which is cool. I really liked getting all of the references, even if he, for all of his G'n'R proselytizing, Steven Adler's name is mentioned like, once, and those drum tracks were the entire reason that first album is like one of the greatest albums of all time, it's nothing without those drums. Anyway. Klosterman also agrees with me that heavy metal's just sexy, man. He doesn't get as far deep into that as I would have, but he does clutch a little at it being something about the beat and tempo and everything (listen to those piercing guitars in the Scorpions' "Rock You Like a Hurricane" and tell me it's not the sexiest thing you've ever heard), so that's chill. Also, this made me go back to my eBay days of scavenging for heavy metal tapes, so, thanks, Chuck.

  20. 4 out of 5

    Bryan Hovey

    This book was a mixed bag for me and a labor of love to read. At times I couldn't put it down and at other times I didn't want to pick it back up. The writing is really good and there are some great stories that remind me of things and decisions I made when I was much younger. The ATM story is pretty good stuff. With that said - you take an opinionated music lover and have them read a book written by an opinionated music lover, there are bound to be some hard feelings. I don't agree with some of This book was a mixed bag for me and a labor of love to read. At times I couldn't put it down and at other times I didn't want to pick it back up. The writing is really good and there are some great stories that remind me of things and decisions I made when I was much younger. The ATM story is pretty good stuff. With that said - you take an opinionated music lover and have them read a book written by an opinionated music lover, there are bound to be some hard feelings. I don't agree with some of the opinions and speculations Chuck shares with regards to the "how" and the "why" of the music but there are a lot I do agree with. After finishing the book and reading the epilogue I have to say that Chuck wrote his truth and accomplished what he set out to do by writing Fargo Rock City. He's not out to convince anyone of anything other than 80s metal is and was relevant to many of us who enjoyed it then and now. I'm a little older than Chuck so for me it's the soundtrack to my late teens and early twenties. For him it starts in middle school. I'd love to sit down with him and drink a few beers and listen to some old vinyl.

  21. 4 out of 5

    Reid Belew

    3.5/5. Quintessential Klosterman, who at his best, might be my favorite writer. This book is difficult to evaluate. The organization and structure of the book do it no favors. It’s never clear if this is a selection of essays that are unrelated (even though they are all entirely about 80’s metal), or if there is some sort of linear trajectory. This book seems scattered, and even though it is boiling over with Klosterman goodness, it’s a bit of a chore to read, especially as the book goes on. Klos 3.5/5. Quintessential Klosterman, who at his best, might be my favorite writer. This book is difficult to evaluate. The organization and structure of the book do it no favors. It’s never clear if this is a selection of essays that are unrelated (even though they are all entirely about 80’s metal), or if there is some sort of linear trajectory. This book seems scattered, and even though it is boiling over with Klosterman goodness, it’s a bit of a chore to read, especially as the book goes on. Klosterman was pretty young when he wrote this, and his immaturity shows. He has a few weird passages comparing and contrasting men and women that clearly show views he doesn’t hold anymore. It’s good. But his other stuff is lightyears ahead.

  22. 4 out of 5

    Ryan

    If someone attempts to defend the music they listened to in high school, don't listen. No matter what. And yet, on a recent road trip, I found this station that played all this music from when I was in high school. It was the best part of the road trip -- for me, at least. I could go on about it for another 270 pages! If someone attempts to defend the music they listened to in high school, don't listen. No matter what. And yet, on a recent road trip, I found this station that played all this music from when I was in high school. It was the best part of the road trip -- for me, at least. I could go on about it for another 270 pages!

  23. 4 out of 5

    Corinna Angehrn

    I like the idea of this book, but feel like it could have benefited from better editing. Even when he made interesting points, he’d go on & on to the “wait, what were we talking about?” point.

  24. 4 out of 5

    Scott Pfahler

    This is a book I’ve been meaning to read for years, because it just seemed like a book I would obviously enjoy. But honestly it was really disappointing. It’s possible I missed the window of time when I might actually have enjoyed it, I don’t know. It’s hard to say exactly what doesn’t work about this book. But I’d be remiss if I didn’t mention what a lot of other reviewers have mentioned: the rampant sexism. There’s a lot of talk of “whores” and “bitches” which I’m sure some people (and possibl This is a book I’ve been meaning to read for years, because it just seemed like a book I would obviously enjoy. But honestly it was really disappointing. It’s possible I missed the window of time when I might actually have enjoyed it, I don’t know. It’s hard to say exactly what doesn’t work about this book. But I’d be remiss if I didn’t mention what a lot of other reviewers have mentioned: the rampant sexism. There’s a lot of talk of “whores” and “bitches” which I’m sure some people (and possibly the author) would argue is par for the course given the subject matter. I think Klosterman uses these words because he knows that’s how (at least stereotypically) glam metal fans and artists refer to women. I’m sure he’d even say he’s using these terms humorously, to poke fun at the absurdity of 80s glam and hair metal. I kept hoping there’d be some kind of reckoning with the sexism in metal, but it never came. That’s not to say that Klosterman needs to justify or make excuses for metal’s misogyny in order for it to still be “important.” But it’s the elephant in the room that he mentions and never truly tackles. Which makes it really hard to excuse his use of sexist terminology. Also, for good measure, at one point he casually makes use of the proverbial “R word” which was so completely unnecessary I honestly nearly put the book down for good. But setting that aside, I think I was maybe most disappointed with how little substance the book actually had. To be fair, it’s not really meant to be a serious musicological affair at all. Seemingly the intent is to be more of a humorous memoir about a kid growing up as a metal fan in a small Midwestern town, and how his love of that music shaped and defined a large part of his early life. While I can’t necessarily relate to being a metal fan, I can relate to the rest because my own life has quite a few parallels to Klosterman’s. But his telling of this story just fell flat for me. There were a few mildly humorous moments, but not as many as I had hoped. And while I didn’t expect Klosterman to convert me into a metal fan, I did expect to at least get a sense of why he is, or why that music had meaning to him. I honestly never did. As much praise as Klosterman gets for his writing, his central thesis never seemed to coalesce for me. It’s clear that he wants you to understand that glam metal meant a lot to him and millions of other adolescents in the 70s, 80s, and 90s. And it’s clear that he wants you to know that it was important in spite of or perhaps because of its crassness. But what isn’t clear is WHY. I don’t disagree with this premise at all, but apart from a somewhat anti-intellectual aesthetic that he seems to enjoy, Klosterman falls flat when it comes to articulating what makes this music special. I honestly was looking forward to hearing a humorous take on what there is to love about glam and hair metal, but this book failed to deliver.

  25. 4 out of 5

    Scott

    First of all this was not an odyssey. Secondly, Kosterman tried far too hard to write an intellectual book. He came across as overly self-important snob who could use big words and terms to take the joy out something fun just to make himself feel smarter.

  26. 4 out of 5

    susie

    I have little to no knowledge of metal, but I am a music lover; Fargo Rock City has me wishing I were more familiar with Klosterman's array of metal references merely for the sake of comic appreciation. Reading through much of the book, I howled with laughter at his descriptions and my vague memories of the bands connected to them. However, at the same time, his apparent misogyny and sexism ostracizes and offends me as a female reader. For instance, re: riot grrl music, p 102 "Boys are simply mo I have little to no knowledge of metal, but I am a music lover; Fargo Rock City has me wishing I were more familiar with Klosterman's array of metal references merely for the sake of comic appreciation. Reading through much of the book, I howled with laughter at his descriptions and my vague memories of the bands connected to them. However, at the same time, his apparent misogyny and sexism ostracizes and offends me as a female reader. For instance, re: riot grrl music, p 102 "Boys are simply more willing to spend money on rock music than girls are, even when the songs are specifically intended for a female audience"; then later, p. 107 "young females are virtually indifferent [to culture as a whole]") and basically reiterates over and over that female roles in the music world are basically limited to groupies, sex icons and consuming music as fashion and not as listeners, and that critical appreciation of music is limited to the male experience. He backpeddles by saying he doesn't mean women don't appreciate music, but that's exactly what he's saying. He also says he's "attracted to feminists", so maybe he's trying to piss off any woman with a brain who may pick up this book in the hopes of riling up her feminist reaction and meeting her that way. Patronizing, considering the only types of people to pick up this book are likely people who are interested in music and/or social iconology/cultural analysis, and I doubt I'm the only girl to have done so! But perhaps this book was intended to be read only by males from rural America who grew up on heavy metal and I've intruded on his boys-only love letter to metal. That's how it reads. His humor is undeniable, but Klosterman is also overtly and repulsively chauvinistic.

  27. 5 out of 5

    Jay

    Chuck Klosterman is a giant dick. Seriously, if we could ask him right now if he's a huge wang, the answer would be yes. Knowing that going into reading this book made the book slightly more enjoyable. The biggest problems I had with it included: 1. I didn't know enough about the subject to keep all the bands distinguished in my head 2. Klosterman comes off as smarmily sexist in an almost-manufactured way and 3. it really had nothing to do with the title or subtitle. Number 3. he tries to answer Chuck Klosterman is a giant dick. Seriously, if we could ask him right now if he's a huge wang, the answer would be yes. Knowing that going into reading this book made the book slightly more enjoyable. The biggest problems I had with it included: 1. I didn't know enough about the subject to keep all the bands distinguished in my head 2. Klosterman comes off as smarmily sexist in an almost-manufactured way and 3. it really had nothing to do with the title or subtitle. Number 3. he tries to answer with a bit of a foot note at the end saying he didn't *want* to title/subtitle it that, given that it pretty resolutely is not really about Fargo, or rural North Dakota, nor is it an Odyssey. The funny thing is I felt the most moving few pieces in the collection did have something to do with time/place. Some of the pieces definitely verged on magnificence, such as any of the GNR-related portions. He even managed to half-heartedly explain "One in a Million" in a way that highlighted Axl Rose's naiveté and made him look like a bumbling idiot and not a calculating racist homophobe.

  28. 4 out of 5

    Adam Hale

    If you haven’t read Fargo Rock City by author and rock critic Chuck Klosterman you should go get a copy. It is an interesting tale of a metal head growing up in North Dakota in the 1980’s, a time when heavy metal ruled the world. I think what made me like it more is that I can somewhat relate to him and what he is saying. He was born and raised in Wyndmere, North Dakota and listened to the radio station out of Fargo. He tackles many of the issues facing metal when it hit the mainstream such as If you haven’t read Fargo Rock City by author and rock critic Chuck Klosterman you should go get a copy. It is an interesting tale of a metal head growing up in North Dakota in the 1980’s, a time when heavy metal ruled the world. I think what made me like it more is that I can somewhat relate to him and what he is saying. He was born and raised in Wyndmere, North Dakota and listened to the radio station out of Fargo. He tackles many of the issues facing metal when it hit the mainstream such as parents hating it, violence, drugs and sex. He claims that it is ignorant to ignore that music has no affect on the way that people act, but the people who become violent or commit suicide or something can not blame that on the music. His writing is very insightful and thought provoking. I didn’t live through the 1980’s like he did but I have lived in suburban and small towns for my life and do like metal music. Chuck Klosterman is a good author and his writing is full of humor and sarcasm. I would recommend any book by this author.

  29. 4 out of 5

    Bo Liles

    Okay, a warning is in order. If you read this book, you may experience side effects such as a yearning to go to CD Warehoue and buy a Guns-n-Roses album or maybe the entire Ozzy solo discography. Or not. Either way, if you were exposed to rock radio in the 80's and early 90's (or just have watched multiple episodes of Behind the Music on VH1) then you will have many of the songs referenced in this excellent memoir stuck in your head for days, maybe weeks. I like Klosterman because he's fiercely l Okay, a warning is in order. If you read this book, you may experience side effects such as a yearning to go to CD Warehoue and buy a Guns-n-Roses album or maybe the entire Ozzy solo discography. Or not. Either way, if you were exposed to rock radio in the 80's and early 90's (or just have watched multiple episodes of Behind the Music on VH1) then you will have many of the songs referenced in this excellent memoir stuck in your head for days, maybe weeks. I like Klosterman because he's fiercely loyal to his convictions but never really comes off pretentious as a writer, rock music critic, or fan. He admits that seeing the world through eyes of glam metal is silly, but still - it was his teenage years, and he seems grateful for the soundtrack these spandex clad bands gave his journey towards adulthood. I'm just glad he decided to write it all down. Recommended read for all music lovers and anyone (like me) who is obsessed with pop culture.

  30. 5 out of 5

    Derek

    This was the only book of Klosterman's I had yet to read, and I knew there was a good chance I would love it, since I've thoroughly enjoyed all of his other books. This was the book that launched his career, and Klosterman combines his unique blend of self-effacing biography, unabashed love for pop culture, and keen mind for analytic deconstruction in this book, a love letter to 80s heavy metal. Chuck's knowledge on the subject is, as it usually is, disconcertingly passionate and pathologically This was the only book of Klosterman's I had yet to read, and I knew there was a good chance I would love it, since I've thoroughly enjoyed all of his other books. This was the book that launched his career, and Klosterman combines his unique blend of self-effacing biography, unabashed love for pop culture, and keen mind for analytic deconstruction in this book, a love letter to 80s heavy metal. Chuck's knowledge on the subject is, as it usually is, disconcertingly passionate and pathologically encyclopedic, and readers with even a passing understanding of the genre will find themselves caught up in his world. It takes a certain patience to really enjoy some of his essays, as he tends to meander throughout the course of his arguments, though he always manages to return in a meaningful and often surprising way. Chuck is one of my inspirations as a writer, and I think I will return to some of his other works now that I have finally read FRC.

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