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Renowned Cultural Critic | New York Times Bestselling Author of 10 Books, Including Sex, Drugs, and Cocoa Puffs

Chuck Klosterman | Renowned Cultural Critic | Author of 12 Books, Including Sex, Drugs, and Cocoa Puffs
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What If All Our ‘Facts’ Proved to Be False?

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But What If We’re Wrong About … Everything?

Lavin Exclusive Speaker

Pop culture, in all its distracting glitz, isn’t just entertainment. It is culture—American culture. And our most insightful guide is Chuck Klosterman. In his bestselling, culture-defining books, he’s pinned down modern America like no one else. And in fun, funny talks, he not only cuts to the bone of our media-saturated moment, but makes it the site of our shared, unlikely commonality.

“Writing about pop culture doesn’t get any better than this, or any funnier.”Stephen King on Fargo Rock City

“One of the most insightful critics of pop-culture writing today” (Publishers Weekly), Chuck Klosterman is not a detached academic who deconstructs culture at arm’s-length. He’s a regular guy whose curiosity is insatiable, infectious, and hilarious—showing why “pop” is a conversation that anyone can join in on, and capturing what it feels like to navigate our weird, wired, pop-obsessed moment right now. He is the New York Times bestselling author of eight nonfiction books (most notably Sex, Drugs and Cocoa Puffs and I Wear the Black Hat) and two novels (Downtown Owl and The Visible Man). Downtown Owl was recently adapted into a film.

His most recent work, The Nineties, is a “superb reassessment of an underappreciated decade from a stupendously gifted essayist” (Booklist). In it, Chuck explores the massive cultural shifts of the ’90s, using the past to give us a glimpse into our future. It’s “a fascinating trip down memory lane” (TIME) from “Generation X’s definitive chronicler of culture” (GQ).

His earlier works include Raised in Captivity,  a collection of surreal short stories so true they had to be wrapped in fiction for our own protection. The Washington Post calls it an “engagingly sardonic collection that will leave you, like one of Klosterman’s own bewildered characters, ‘relaxed and confused.’” Another recent collection, Chuck Klosterman X, compiles and contextualizes the best of his essays from the past decade, with pieces written on everything from Taylor Swift, Jonathan Franzen, and Charlie Brown, to Mountain Dew and steroids.

His previous book—debuting in its first week on The New York Times bestsellers list—is But What If We’re Wrong?: Thinking About the Present As If It Were the Past. It’s both an earnest attempt to speculate on what, and how, our culture might transform over time, and a rational inoculation against the dangers of assumption. It dispels the “casual certitude” of our era by imagining what culture might look like 100, 300, or even 1,000 years from now.

One of the brightest pieces of pop analysis to appear this century.The Onion on Sex, Drugs, and Cocoa Puffs

Chuck has written for The Washington Post, The New York Times, SPIN, Esquire, GQ, The Guardian, The BelieverBillboard, The AV Club, and ESPN. He served as The Ethicist for The New York Times Magazine for three years, where he dispensed uncommon wisdom on moral conundrums, and appeared as himself in the LCD Soundsystem documentary Shut Up and Play the Hits. He also created the web site Grantland with Bill Simmons.

Speech Topics

Civic Engagement
Visualizing the Far Future (Once “Now” Becomes “Then”)But What If?

In this keynote, based on his new book But What If We’re Wrong?, Chuck Klosterman visualizes the contemporary world as it will appear to those who’ll perceive it as the distant past. Throughout, he asks questions that are profound in their simplicity: How certain are we about our understanding of gravity, or time? What will be the defining memory of rock music, 500 years from today? How seriously should we view the content of our dreams, or the content of TV? Are all sports destined for extinction? Is it possible that the greatest artist of our era is currently unknown (or—weirder still—widely known, but entirely disrespected)? Is it possible that we “overrate” democracy? And perhaps most disturbing: is it possible that we’ve reached the end of knowledge?

Kinetically slingshotting through a broad spectrum of objective and subjective problems, this talk builds on input from a variety of creative thinkers—George Saunders, David Byrne, Jonathan Lethem, Kathryn Schulz, Neil deGrasse Tyson, Brian Greene, Junot Díaz, Amanda Petrusich, Ryan Adams, Nick Bostrom, Dan Carlin, and Richard Linklater, among others—interwoven with the type of high-wire humor and nontraditional analysis only Chuck would dare to attempt. It’s a seemingly impossible achievement: a keynote about the things we cannot know, explained as if we did. It’s about how we live now, once “now” has become “then.”

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The Arts
Life Through the Prism of Pop Culture
In his talks, Chuck Klosterman discusses how pop culture shapes a person’s identity. Why do so many of us define ourselves by the media we consume—the music we love, the movies we obsessively reference, the television we can’t stop watching? With inspired leaps of logic and a sense for relatable minutiae, Chuck shows us how pop culture becomes inextricably linked with our memories, how it helps us understand the world, and what this says about us, as individuals and as a society. Bright with provocation, hilarious non-sequiturs and good-natured debate, an evening with Chuck will help you see our accelerating world, and the little connections that make it fascinating, in a newly appreciative light.
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