Killing Yourself To Live

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If you’re from Generation X(or you’re three years on either side of 30), think about getting a copy of Chuck Klosterman’s 2005 release, “Killing Yourself To Live.” This is precisely the kind of book I love!

Klosterman is a writer for Spin magazine-something I haven’t read in at least a decade. In this book, Klosterman goes on a mega road trip from NYC to Florida to Mississippi to Iowa to Seattle. All along the way, he visits famous sites where rock stars died; the Chelsea Hotel in NYC where Sid killed Nancy, the intersection in Georgia where Duane Allman was killed in a motorcycle accident, the swamp in Mississippi where Lynyrd Skynyrd’s plane went down, the Iowa farrm field where Buddy Holly, Richie Valens and the Big Bopper died and, finally, Seattle where Kurt Cobain blew his head off. All along the way, Klosterman muses on his interpersonal relationships and childhood history, intertwining his own stories with those of the pop culture icons and their places of demise. Fascinating!

At one point,, Klosterman gives an example of a test psychiatrists use to determine whether someone is schziophrenic(sp?). Here’s the test…

The mental health expert tells a short story, then poses the question: Why?

A woman’s husband dies suddenly. She is afraid, lonely and depressed. At the funeral, she meets and spends two hours talking to a man. A week later, the widow kills her sister. Why?

A “normal” person will answer, “The man was her sister’s husband. Out of desparation, she kills her sister to get the man.” A schzio will answer, “She wanted to have another funeral, knowing this man would be there again.”

Folks, I have no idea if this is so. No clue if this is truly a test mental health experts actually do.Still, I’d like to know the truth-because I had an answer that was not “normal” and not “schzio.”

My wonderment was this:

The woman killed her sister out of jealousy. The two women look the same(they-are- sisters, after all) and the widow thought the man may see the sis, be more interested in her, and the widow would remain alone.

So, am I nuts? I dunno. Probably. Any mental health experts wanna give me an analysis?

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  • pwalls

    Marcus I met you last night at the NHS induction for my daughter Kelley and I want to tell you how amazing you are. We know alot of the same people and it is great to meet someone who has left out little area to go on to such big things. You really touched the kids lastnight because you have walked those halls and can tell them how it is. I am so touched by how similar your story is to my husbands and it explains alot to me now. He even told your wife lastnight thank you because you put everything he went through into words. His accident happened outside New Haven and he should have died. Although the injuries were not the same it is amazing how many similar things you went through. It helps me to understand him even better because this was all before I was ever around. Funny thing is before he and I got together I hardly ever read and he read all the time and now I am a reading fool and so is our daughter. In fact we were discussing who got to read your book first lastnight. I won. But she will have it after school tonight and I will have to pry it away from her hot little hands. I just want to say thank you so much because that meant alot to those kids that you were there lastnight. They can so relate to you. Thank you again and just always know in our area you are a hero.

  • Marcus Engel

    Hi there! Thank you soooooo much for your kind words! It is truly my pleasure to come back to the old stompin’ grounds and share experiences with the students. I’m sorry I didn’t get to meet you and your husband(my wife shared your meeting on the way home). I hope you enjoy the book and would love to know your thoughts when you’re finished! BTW, don’t forget to go to and sign up for the monthly newsletter, Engel’s Ensights. If you like what you heard last night, you’ll probably enjoy hearing stories from the newsletter every month!

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