Killing Yourself to Live: 85% of a True Story is the third book by Chuck Klosterman. This non-fiction piece was first conceived as a magazine feature about death: death involving rock stars. To this end, Klosterman embarks on “epic” road trip. He wants to visit the death sites of rock stars. Klosterman rents a Ford Taurus– make that a “Ford Tauntaun” and tours the country to stand where 119 rock stars have fallen. Almost all of them unwillingly. If you are familiar with Klosterman’s work, you know that nothing he does is ever simple. Things happen to Chuck Klosterman. Sometimes banal, sometimes bizarre, often neurotic and most of the time quite entertaining.
Another through-line to the book is Klosterman’s attempt to reconcile people, places, things and ideas that he loves with, well, women. Oh, and of course the recreational drug use. Sex, drugs and rock n’ roll. Or cocoapuffs. Take your pick.
I’ve enjoyed a couple of Klosterman’s other books and when selecting something to bring with me while I did networking support for coverage of the two political conventions I picked this one up. I don’t think I’ll be disappointed. Just listen to the back cover:
For 6557 miles, Chuck Klosterman thought about dying. He drove a rental car from new York to Rhode Island to Georgia to Mississippi to Iowa to Minneapolis to Fargo to Seattle, and he chased death and rock ‘n’ roll all the way. Over the span of twenty-one days, Chuck had three relationships end– one by choice, one by chance, and one by exhaustion. He snorted cocaine in a graveyard. he walked a half-mile through a bean field. A man in Dickinson, North Dakota explained to him why we have fewer windmills than we used to. Chuck listened to the KISS solo albums and the Rod Stewart box set. At one point, poisonous snakes became involved. The road is hard. From the Chelsea Hotel to the swampland where Lynyrd Skynyrd’s plane went down to the site where Kurt Cobain blew his head off, Chuck explored every brand of rock-star demise. He wanted to know why the greatest career move any musician can make is to stop breathing … and what that means for the rest of us.