Jeanne Phillips

Chuck Klosterman explores the dark side

Chuck Klosterman explores the dark side

Read "I Wear the Black Hat," Chuck Klosterman's book about villainy that includes his often-provocative takes on pop culture figures from Kanye West to Bill Clinton, and it's easy to imagine him standing by a set of railroad tracks, sneering and twirling his mustache.

Then talk to the red-bearded author about the backlash that his thoughtful provocation has received, and it's just as easy to picture him lashed to those same tracks.

Yup — there Chuck is, his torso wrapped in rope and his head propped on a rail, looking oddly comfortable as a locomotive belching steam moves inexorably toward him.

Chug, chug, chug.

All this is to say that Klosterman, 42, who...