Chuck Klosterman’s Fargo Rock City is One of Pitchfork’s All-Time Favorite Music Books
Chuck Klosterman’s first memoir, Fargo Rock City, about his unabashed love for ‘80s metal, that most discredited of musical genres, was named to Pitchfork’s list of Favorite Music Books. With insanely riveting prose, Klosterman makes a personal case for the importance of this thoroughly uncool music that had a profound effect on him—and on millions of other teenagers during its commercial peak. Fargo Rock City, soon to be a major motion picture co-written by the Hold Steady’s Craig Finn, is not simply a memoir about a musial genre; it is—like much of Klosterman’s writing—about the unexpected ways that pop culture, evenly lowly hair metal, can shape a young person’s life and bring meaning to it.
Fargo Rock City is essentially Chuck Klosterman’s long-form love letter to hair metal. And while he didn’t invent the idea of personal narrative-as-music criticism, it’s hard to imagine a lot of our finest think-piece depositories existing without the admirable standards its tangent-prone prose set before the dawn of Tumblr. It’s as anti-authoritarian as any book on this list without wallowing in self-satisfied contrarianism or academic pomp; independently voiced but accessible and nostalgic while still maintaining a salty, unromantic edge.
It doesn’t hurt to have a working knowledge of the BulletBoys’ discography or an adolescence drinking cheap beer in a rural outpost going in, but it’s hardly necessary. The import of Fargo Rock City isn’t so much what’s said about “November Rain” or North Dakota so much as flipping the script on the common gripe about music criticism that “it tells you more about the reviewer than the album”: being an authority on one’s own experiences gives anybody a right to be a part of the conversation. Klosterman’s writing here has the passion, humor, and empathy to not only excuse the solipsism but justify it.