I Wear the Black Hat | Chuck Klosterman

The cover of Klosterman's I Wear the Black HatIt takes more than evil inclinations to become a villain—at least in Klosterman’s world.

The villain is the person who knows the most but cares the least. (18)

I Wear the Black Hat is a collection of essays that tests this simple thesis. Over the course of 12 chapters you’ll explore the lives of musicians (Don Henley, Taylor Swift, Keith Richards), celebrities (Perez Hilton, Kim Dotcom, Sharon Stone), athletes (O. J. Simpson, Kareem Abdul-Jabbar), politicians (Sarah Palin, George W. Bush, Dick Cheney), and yes, even that paragon of villainy himself, Hitler.

Each chapter is full of Klosterman’s perspective-shifting analysis and trademark wit. In one of the finest essays in the book, Klosterman compares the life of Batman to the real-life version, Bernhard Goetz, before questioning why we would cheer one and jeer the other. He wraps up the chapter with these comments:

As a framework for living, we have collectively agreed that violently responding to crime makes society worse, … Street justice is a desirable fantasy, but it must remain a fantasy in order for the desire to exist. In a book or a movie, the vigilante cares about us. In life, he cares more about the squirrels. It’s the only way. (75)

If you enjoy examining culture in an alternate light, I Wear the Black Hat is an insightful read.

—Chuck Klosterman, I Wear the Black Hat (New York: Scribner, 2013).

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