Chuck Klosterman


Support for this podcast and the following message come from Google from Connecticut to California from Mississippi to Minnesota. Millions of businesses are using Google tools to grow online learn. How Google is supporting businesses in your state at Google dot com slash economic impact Bullseye with Jesse Thorn is a production of maximum fun dot Org and is distributed by N._p._R.? Aw It's Bullseye. It's bull's eye Jesse Thorn here on our show we do a semi regular segment called the crazy day of my entire career and this week the author Chuck closer-knit comes by to tell us about kiss chuck just released his latest book. It's called raised in captivity fictional nonfiction thirty four very short stories <hes> most of them are about twelve hundred words long and they're different than typical short stories. I think I mean in the sense that <hes> the idea is kind of the whole thing. They're not about character development or not about plot mechanics. <hes> I suppose a better the best analogy might be like twilight zone episodes chuck closer. Man is one of the greats when it comes to writing about culture you've seen his work and all the big places The New York Times Esquire E._S._p._N.. And elsewhere but chuck's crazy day was before he really hit it big back in the early a two thousand chuck was a reporter and columnist for a local newspaper the Akron Beacon Journal in Ohio. He just released his first book Fargo Rock City a heavy metal Odyssey in rural North Dakota and he made what he thought was a reasonable assumption that no one important was reading it that was until he got a pretty memorable phone call. I'm chuck close German. I'm a writer WHO's talking into a microphone. Okay well this day. You know when I look back at doesn't seem that crazy and it wouldn't be crazy. I guess if it happened now but it felt insane at the time this was like in two thousand and one and I was living living in Akron Ohio and I was working at the Akron Beacon Journal and my first book had come out which was called frogger rock city and it was kind of a memoir kind of a cultural criticism of hair metal and growing up in the mid West so is about like kiss and Motley crue and guns and roses and poison. The book came out and I was pleased with it but didn't seem like a big deal at all I I mean I I did a little book tour with few book events and like the biggest crowds would be like twenty five people and I knew half of them so then it happened and I was happy but it felt as though it was like a manageable situation but one of the things things I had done in that book for no real reason just because I thought it might be funny was I put my home phone number in the book and I was like if you buy this book and you don't like it feel free to call me and tell me which I didn't think anyone and we do but of course people did I mean it's odd now. Uh with the way social media works very common thing I think for writers to do but at the time it just seemed like a strange kind of eccentric gimmicky thing to do so but people are calling me on this number my home phone number in my apartment Hartman and one day David Byrne calls me of the talking heads or previously of the talking heads. He calls me from the Denver Airport. You've read this book. I guess while on a flight and he says to me well. Hey you know a first he talks a lot about Iceland <hes> he'd been to Iceland and you like the music of the future is all coming from Iceland and it was exactly like you would expect him to be in a conversation but he says to me hey. I'm doing a book event with Lydia Davis. Abyss that's being sponsored by Dave Eggers Sweeney's and why don't you come to New York and be the opening act for this and I said of course I will do that. It was bizarre. All of this is just bizarre to me. I can't believe any if it's happening so I think great I will do. This and I'm like a win is it and he says something like September twenty fourth and I'm like great. That's a few months off. I can't wait to do this in September. Eleventh have okay and it's a real jarring thing. I'm watching it from Ohio. Oh you know as a news event but part of me is also like well. Is this still happening. Are they're still going to be book events in New York after this will the flight is on September twenty second and that seems meaningless now but at the time in this you know it's hard to remember almost how crazy the world was. After September eleventh. There was a lot of fear that there might be another terrorist event on the twenty second can't because it was double eleven uh so I've been to New York just a couple times before now I'm in the city and it seems totally different. People are much nicer to each other. People are also sort of kind of just walking around still seemingly dazed. There's you see military personnel a lot. You see cops everywhere. It seems like a completely different city so that was like the second crazy day just getting there but then the events coming up okay and again. It's not that this is so strange but I didn't know anything about this like I don. I didn't know how these things worked. The people involved with this event seemed super famous to me in a way that I just could not kind of fathom or understand so the the events like seven o'clock at night but. Ah I go there at two thirty in the afternoon because I don't know how this works so then like vigors is in there is at the height of his fame and he looks at me and he's like what are you doing here. Dave Eggers says do you WanNa go to the Deli. Where are they filmed? Harry met Sally that Seating Harry met Sally and I'm like Ob- sure I guess I don't know so we go there along with all his his sort of minions and my kind of eat lunch three in the afternoon and I still come to the event very early probably five thirty because it's only ninety minutes away now so I'm getting increasingly nervous and then I have to wait for the thing to start and there's this little backstage area so I go back there and then Dave Eggar shows up and David Byrne shows up to my surprise David Byrne learn and Dave Eggers don't seem particularly comfortable talking to each other like they just sort of seem like quiet people who are just standing there next to me. Tom Even Burns wife comes back for a while and she does all the talking like she kind of saves the day. She's very charismatic person but if she hadn't been there I don't know what would have happened because it's just like three guys standing back there two of which seemed pretty famous nice to me and I don't even feel like I should be there. I don't even know how I'm supposed to be dressed or exactly how this is going to work. The events finally going to start and this guy is going to go out and give like a introductory speech some guy. I've never heard of a guy named John. Hodgman he goes out in front of this huge crowd and he begins his introduction by going. I know what you're thinking. I shouldn't be here right now and he proceeds to give probably the best speech I've ever heard in my life and I know he's a humorous. This speech is not funny. The speech is like a really sort of dark meditation on this idea that this event has happened that has affected the entire world but specifically the city and there was all this conversation going on about the idea that will maybe we won't have popular culture anymore like maybe all of the Frivolous Ovallis ideas that we've been consumed with over the last fifty years of the twentieth century whatever like that's done. We're not gonNA care about things like that anymore. There's going to be this new seriousness now. As it turns out of course like the opposite happened like culture got more frivolous but at. The time that's how it felt and he gave this incredible speech basically explaining that it was okay to return to enjoying things and that it was okay to have escapist entertainment and that doesn't don't detract from the meaning of this event it was just as very moving speech that almost could've been its own thing because I think in my memory. I'm sure there's maybe isn't exactly right but it seemed almost like this is the first cultural event happening in New New York since the Tuesday. When the towers went down to sleep the first time people are coming out to go to something some Hodgman gives this speech? That's a real profound and then at the end says like and now Chuck Close Germen who will talk about poison so then I come out in front of his audience to basically Rita Section of my book. It was actually about kiss I think so I was terrified to begin with now. I'm super terrified because because all the things that he had said in his introduction speech are really heavily on my mind and I'm like I. There's no possible way that my book can be like the hinge moment for these people to decide whether or not to enjoy culture again but they have to say the crowd was probably more engaged and more just like the best crowd. I think I've ever dealt with in my entire career. I guess maybe because they had felt this social pressure not to laugh for almost two weeks or whatever they kind of laughed at everything went incredibly well. I don't know if I ever had a reading that was so exciting to be part of it. It wasn't even that my reading was so good. It was just the conditions were made for it. <music> Davis did her stuff and David Byrne did his stuff and then he played some music at the end and there was a book signing and like Parker Posey was at the thing and she came up through the book signing and Editor From The New York Times magazine was there and basically offers me a job while I'm signing these books or at least sort of the ability to write for the New York Times magazine which I'd never even anticipated and then we went. Into a bar afterwards and I just remember thinking it's like how did this possibly happen. I feel like I skipped all of these inbetween steps of how this is supposed to go like it seems like this is something that's supposed to happen at the end of my career if that happened to me now. I guess I'd be like well okay. I can understand that I've written eleven books or whatever and there's but that that was that was a weird day. I don't know of all ever have a day in my career that will ever feel that crazy. I might have days that are actually crazier but nothing will ever feel that insane the craziest day of Chuck Closer Men's entire career our thanks to my friend John Hodgman. I cameo in that story. Chuck's latest book is called raised in captivity fictional nonfiction. That was just released this week. You can get it wherever you buy your books so let's check close German one of the good guys it. We've come to the end of another episode of Bullseye. Boza is produced at maximum fun dot Org World Headquarters Overlooking Macarthur Park in beautiful Los Angeles California where this week our producer reduce a duck walking carefully across a crosswalk walk like a proper law abiding pedestrian who says no one walks in Los Angeles. The show is produced by speaking into microphones. Our producer is Kevin Ferguson. He's away taking care of a beautiful new baby so Ragu monovalent stepped in for him this tweak Ambrosio is our associate producer. You could help from Casey O'Brien. Our production fellow is Jordan. Cowling are interstitial music is by J W also known as Dan Wally thanks to Dan for sharing it with us our theme song is Huddle Formation Nation by the go team thanks to them in their label Memphis Industries for letting US use it and before you go. Did you know mosaic has nearly two decades of archives available to you. That's right. I started doing this show. When I was nineteen years old old I am thirty eight? There are so many great interviews in our archive. You can find them at maximum fun dot org you can find the last few years worth on youtube to search for Bullseye with Jesse Thorn. You can also find them in your favorite podcast.

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