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First Person

The Experience Questionnaire: Chuck Klosterman

Chuck Klosterman is a pop culture critic and the bestselling author of eight nonfiction books, including “Sex, Drugs, and Cocoa Puffs” and “Fargo Rock City,” and two novels, including “Downtown Owl.” His 11th book, “Raised in Captivity: Fictional Nonfiction,” is on shelves now.

Where do you come up with your best ideas? 
Sometimes in a dark room, drinking coffee, but usually when I’m not trying to think about anything in particular. I’m a big advocate for daydreaming. Mowing the lawn is a good opportunity to think weird thoughts.

What’s the best non-material gift you’ve received? 
The opportunity to spend a random Sunday afternoon with my friends, getting day-drunk for no reason.

What’s the best non-material gift you’ve given? 
I once let someone punch me in the face. But that was back in college, and I think she actually hurt her hand a little bit.

“I had no idea how to write a novel that didn’t seem like a novel that somebody else had already written.”

What is the biggest challenge you’ve faced?
Writing “Downtown Owl.” I had no idea how to write a novel that didn’t seem like a novel that somebody else had already written.

If you had to choose a different profession, what would you do? 
Private investigator. It’s like being a journalist, except you don’t have to type anything when you finish your reporting. Plus, I enjoy sitting in parked cars and watching strangers.

What is the most useful mistake you’ve made? 
Honestly? Most of my career.

What’s the strangest experience you’ve had?  
Watching my wife give birth to our children.

What opportunity do you regret passing up? 
I have lots of regrets, but not about things I didn’t do. I have regrets about the opportunities I took.

How do you relax?
I flip through all the TV channels. I still can’t get over the fact that I have 200 channels to choose from. I remember when the number of channels went from four to five. 

If you could go anywhere in the world tomorrow, where would you go? 
I already could go anywhere in the world. All I’d have to do is go to the airport and bring a credit card. But the idea of that makes me depressed, so I guess the answer is my home.

What is your most indelible childhood memory? 
Sitting on my bed on a hot summer night, looking at the fields of corn through my bedroom window, wishing it would rain. 

What’s the most valuable thing you learned in school? 
How to file my taxes. 

When you’re stuck how do you get unstuck? 
I just assume that I’m supposed to be stuck, which means I’m doing exactly what I’m supposed to be doing, which means I’m not stuck.

What is your proudest moment? 
It’s okay to feel pride, but I don’t think that’s something a person should talk about in public.

What would you like to experience before you die? 
The Singularity. 

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Photo by Matthew Eisman/Getty Images

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