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Klosterman's latest exercise in pop-culture-infused philosophical acrobatics is an exploration of villainy, or rather, "the presentation of material" on the subject. Basically, the premise gives the veteran author (Sex, Drugs, and Cocoa Puffs) and current "Ethicist" for the New York Times Magazine an excuse to tackle an array of subjects ranging from Machiavelli (whose biggest crime was turning "an autocratic template into entertainment") to 1980s N.Y.C. subway vigilante Bernhard Goetz, who could have been a superhero if he had just kept his mouth shut. "Every forthcoming detail about his life-even the positive ones-made his actions on the subway seem too personal," Klosterman writes. His circuitous arguments are occasionally self-indulgent and too reminiscent of David Foster Wallace, but the writing is always intellectually vigorous and entertaining. According to Klosterman, being the villain is about knowing the most but caring the least, which has as much to do with self-awareness and public perception as the act itself. Agent: Daniel Greenbert, Levine Greenberg Agency. (July) (c) Copyright PWxyz, LLC. All rights reserved.
From Booklist, Copyright © American Library Association. Used with permission.
With characteristically infuriating insight and wit, Klosterman (The Visible Man, 2011) takes on our fascination and often, indeed, our identification with villainy. He covers a lot of territory: the antiheroes he discusses include airplane hijacker D. B. Cooper, subway vigilante Bernhard Goetz, rappers NWA, the Oakland Raiders football team, Bill Clinton, and O. J. Simpson. Very much a product of his generation and as plugged into the popular culture as Mencken was antagonistic to it, Klosterman is in that same direct line of cultural critics as Bierce, Mencken, and more recently, P. J. O'Rourke, and his posture is similarly arch and iconoclastic, if more analytical. He is not for everybody (icons clearly have their supporters), and his targets often seem small, which may say as much about our culture as it does about Klosterman. But this collection of related essays, though uneven for example, his take on Muhammad Ali is particularly strong, but on Chevy Chase, Howard Cosell, or the Eagles, it is inconsequential will amuse and/or outrage but, either way, it should enlarge his audience.--Levine, Mark Copyright 2010 Booklist