Chuck Klosterman is the James Bond of pop-culture journalists. Educated, closeted-metalhead guys want to be him, and hip-but-not-too-hip girls want to be with him. It's ridiculously lame, but it's true. Every semi-underground writer wants his career: work for a daily for a bit, work for a bigger daily for a bit, publish a book, get hired at Spin, write a column for Esquire and then write three more books about whatever you want (not exactly in that order, but roughly).
Maybe it's not surprising that half the people who want his career say they hate him. There's a lot of envy and a lot of "I liked him before he was famous." It's bizarre because, unless you're Steven King, JK Rowling or that guy who lies all the time and makes Oprah's fans cry, no author is famous. But the main attacks critics will level at his newest, Chuck Klosterman IV, are true: Most of it has been published already elsewhere (Spin, Esquire, etc.), and it's pretty much "vintage Klosterman," which is meant as an insult.
Actually, though, Chuck Klosterman IV is more of a b-sides-and-rarities collection than a Zoso tour de force, but it's a great assemblage of odds and sods. You've got him on the phone with Robert Plant talking about Bon Jovi. You've got him asking you to explain why it would make you unhappy if your taste in music was reversed overnight. You've got a nice piece of fiction-his first. You've basically got the whole range of Klosterman's wit and wisdom with no surprises (minus the fiction, which is weirder and darker than expected).
Again, it's no Zoso. But for a guy who's building a benign cult of college kids one reader at a time, his career doesn't need a magnum opus right now. Like any sect of hip outsiders, Klosterman fans feed on the b-sides more than the hits.