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The Nice Thing About Bad Guys?

The villains under the black hats

Jul. 15, 2013
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In Chuck Klosterman’s new book I Wear the Black Hat: Grappling with Villains (Real and Imagined), he returns with another series of essays on popular culture and this time convincingly argues that villains may not be as bad as we think they are—or they might be worse. Examining everyone from the historic Machiavelli to present-day public figures such as Joe Paterno, George W. Bush, O.J. Simpson and Mohamed Atta, as well as peppering in fictional characters including Darth Vader and Batman, Klosterman muses on villainy and questions why we consider some individuals more heinous than others. 

He moves through history and across cultures to define “villain” as a person who “knows the most, but cares the least.” Articulate and persuasive, Klosterman writes a compelling case for what makes a villain and where villainy comes from. This thought-provoking compilation tells tales of terrible acts by people both real and imagined but still manages to remain light-hearted as Klosterman uncovers the secrets behind some of society’s most complex characters.

Klosterman is best known as the writer of the “Ethicist” column in the New York Times and for his best-selling collection Sex, Drugs, and Cocoa Puffs: A Low Culture Manifesto. Klosterman will speak at Boswell Book Co. at 7 p.m. on Thursday, July 18.


Book Happening

B.A. Shapiro

6:30 p.m., July 24

Charles Allis Decorative Art Museum

The Art Forger, a suspenseful new novel by B.A. Shapiro, tells the tale of an infamous art heist at the Isabella Stewart Gardner Museum in Boston 25 years after it occurred. Claire Roth, who reproduces famous artworks for a living, suddenly finds herself at the center of a scandal that involves forgery, love and betrayal.


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