Thursday, July 31, 2014

I Wear the Black Hat

I Wear the Black Hat: Grappling With Villains (Real and Imagined) by Chuck Klosterman, 214 pages

I listened to I Wear the Black Hat as an audio book – it’s narrated by Klosterman and his semi-informal reading style (he’s no voice actor) reminded me of some of my favorite podcasts. I’m not sure that I would have made it all the way through this one if I’d been reading instead of listening. Many of the sports references soared over my head, but I did enjoy the discussion of NFL uniforms and how different color combinations and styles read as “villainous” (in particular, the LA Raiders’ uniforms).

The central premise for Klosterman’s essays in this volume is that a villain is the person who knows the most, but cares the least. My personal favorite was the essay about vigilantism (Villains Who Aren’t Villains), and the argument: if Batman existed in the real world, we wouldn’t actually think he’s a hero. Like every other Klosterman book I’ve read, there’s a certain amount of mental gymnastics occurring that I’m not always 100% on board with, but I generally agreed with him this time around (perhaps because I don’t have the requisite sports-knowledge to have a fully formed personal opinion). I’m not sure I’d recommend I Wear the Black Hat as a starting point for Klosterman’s essays, but those who already familiar with his work will probably enjoy it.


  1. This is a book I've been considering for a while, since the general topic sounds interesting. However, I really didn't like Sex, Drugs, and Cocoa Puffs, and found Klosterman to be really full of himself. Has he mellowed at all since that was published in 2003?

    1. Nope. Still totally full of himself - but now with (slightly) more self-awareness of his own pomposity.

      I'm not really a Klosterman fan... but at this point I've read three or four of his books, so something about his writing must work for me. I'll definitely listen to them on audiobook from now on.