Sports, celebrity and other things that ac­tu­ally hap­pened

The Washington Post Sunday - - BOOK WORLD - RE­VIEW BY JUSTIN WM. MOYER Justin Wm. Moyer is a re­porter for The Wash­ing­ton Post.

Chuck Kloster­man — mu­sic and sports nerd from North Dakota turned pro­lific es­say­ist and Grant­land co­founder — has a pretty cool job: His beat is re­al­ity writ large. “By the time the twenty-first cen­tury started, the no­tion of be­ing a rock critic and a sports­writer was no longer awk­ward (or even con­tentious), which nicely co­in­cided with the pe­riod of my life when I tried to earn a liv­ing by do­ing so,” he writes in “Chuck Kloster­man X.” (The ti­tle of the book, the author’s 10th, is a nod to Led Zep­pelin, a band that fa­vored Ro­man nu­mer­als.) “I’m not fully ac­cred­ited by ei­ther side of the pro­fes­sional equa­tion (sports­writers think I’m too pre­ten­tious and mu­sic writ­ers don’t think I’m pre­ten­tious enough), but I’m able to write about what­ever I want, as long as it ac­tu­ally hap­pened.”

This col­lec­tion of pre­vi­ously pub­lished “non­fic­tion dreams,” as Kloster­man puts it, is more than a tome meant for a cof­fee ta­ble in a record­ing stu­dio or sports in­jury clinic. His pas­sion for ath­letic com­pe­ti­tion, no mat­ter how ob­scure, is in­fec­tious — it’s hard to think of an­other writer who could make a 30-page, deeply re­ported essay about a North Dakota ju­nior-col­lege basketball game in­ter­est­ing. And his celebrity pro­files tran­scend pro­file­dom, par­tic­u­larly one that con­cludes that Tay­lor Swift is no naif: “Swift can man­u­fac­ture the kind of mythol­ogy that used to hap­pen to Carly Si­mon by accident.”

But Kloster­man is at his best when he’s swim­ming in deeper wa­ters. One would ex­cept noth­ing less of this for­mer New York Times Mag­a­zine Ethi­cist.

“It’s start­ing to look like a ma­jor­ity of the NFL is on drugs,” he writes in an essay on foot­ball fans’ com­plic­ity in sup­port­ing a game whose play­ers are some­times phys­i­cally and psy­cho­log­i­cally de­stroyed by their time on the grid­iron. “As a con­se­quence, you will have to make some de­ci­sions. Not league com­mis­sioner Roger Good­ell. You.”

Though Kloster­man may be pi­geon­holed as a guy who thinks too much about Kiss, his 10th book shows he’s some­thing else: a philoso­pher.

By Chuck Kloster­man Blue Rider. 444 pp. $27


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