Sex, Drugs, and Cocoa Puffs Book Review

A few years ago I bravely, perhaps stupidly, re-read some of my middle school and high school diaries. Among pages and pages of late night ramblings, these journals brought me back to a better time, an easier time. The topics may have been total fluff, but the writing was honest. I poured my heart into those journal entries and some poems and stories I found even brought me to tears. Let’s just say there was a lot of wine involved.

Some days I wrote about what happened that week on Dawson’s Creek or my torrid crush on David Gallagher, but other days saw a more sensitive side, filled with four-letter words I wouldn’t even come to understand until years later.

While these journals held some of my most private thoughts, there were days I couldn’t help but wonder if these spiral-bound notebooks and Lisa Frank diaries with those little key locks would be discovered by “the right person”. The person who would read them and have a life-changing epiphany…a moment when they realized I was the voice of my generation!!

Queue buildup music

Alas, earwax.

Queue sad trombone

Did I turn out to be the next Bob Dylan? The next Arlo Guthrie? The next J.D. Salinger? Not by a longshot…but those late-night ramblings and after-school thoughts still hold a place in my heart…because they capture who I was in that moment in time. Countless writers have done this and pushed their work to the public eye. They’ve opened their hearts and souls and poured out their deepest, darkest feelings just to be relatable or trustworthy…and no one has done that quite like Chuck Klosterman.

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In his weird and winding book through the world of pop culture, Sex, Drugs, and Cocoa Puffs: A Low Culture Manifesto, Klosterman attacks the entire spectrum of postmodern America, covering everything from reality TV to the legacy of Billy Joel.

Compiled of various essays, Sex, Drugs, and Cocoa Puffs will make you think, laugh, and will probably even piss you off at some points. It’s simultaneously a book about everything and nothing…covering the major moments in pop culture history that defined our era, then at the same time proving how pointless they all really are, in the grand scheme of things…

Shows like Saved by the Bell and movies like The Empire Strikes Back and When Harry Met Sally all have symbolic importance, whether you agree or not. Reality TV, Internet porn, the music of Billy Joel and The Dixie Chicks…it’s all made us into who we are today. But at what cost? Do these shows and movies give young America unrealistic views on love, friendship, and life in general that leave us all feeling, well, disappointed?

Klosterman himself says Sex, Drugs, and Cocoa Puffs is really a collection of late-night ramblings, much like the diaries I found myself reading wine in hand. Are they meant to change the world? To teach us something about life and culture? To open our eyes to a greater understanding? No, not really. These essays are just about a moment in time…they’re about us…all of us…and our connection to those infantile things that unite us as a species. Sex, Drugs, and Cocoa Puffs pulls the curtain back on those conversations we all fall back on when things get awkward: sports, politics, entertainment, music, movies…they all are so drastically important and miniscule at the same time.

For me, Sex, Drugs, and Cocoa Puffs was like taking a walk through someone’s brain. It moved quickly, filled with moments that literally had me laughing out loud…as well as moments that left me wanting to throw the book across the room. Much like the reality shows he dissects, Klosterman offered the perfect guilty pleasure, a little bit of romance, a little bit of drama, and a whole lot of opinions.

Looking for a new book to read? Check in every Friday for a “Bee Happy” post, where I share reviews of books I’ve read or other book-themed lists.

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