browsing all posts in "books"
title: Dirty, Drunk, and Punk: The Twisted Story of the Bunchofuckinggoofs
author: Jennifer Morton
other shit: 223 pages. 2011, Insomniac Press
website: Dirty, Drunk and Punk
rating: 4/5 safety pins
I wish this book were bigger. I wish it were longer. Shinier. More expensive. And it cost me a pretty penny to begin with, seeing as how I had to order it from Canada and their dollar is up and shipping is expensive and I think Canada Post has Godot.
Aside: Today is my birthday. Tonight I’m going to see X. I imagine I will weep through their entire set, but I’m going to try really hard not to.
title: What We Do Is Secret
author: Thorn Kief Hillsbery
other shit: 346 pages. 2005, Villard.
rating: 2/5 safety pins
I was skeptical of this book for a lot of reasons, most of them relating to my distaste for reading about Darby Crash. The title is a Germs reference; the cover blurb starts by talking about Crash. But then my local library redid their online catalog, and —
title: My First Time: A Collection of First Punk Show Stories
editor: Chris Duncan
other shit: 181 pages, plus (short) author bios. 2007, AK Press.
rating: 3.5/5 safety pins
I will admit it, guys: There is not a lot I love more in the world than stories about How Punk Rock Saved My Life, and this book has many such stories. Most of them are pretty short, only a page or two, and they’re mostly by people who Do Stuff in punk. They’re in bands (Blag Dalia, John Poddy, Blake Schwarzenbach) or they write books (Michael Azerrad, Chris Walter, George Hurchella), something like that, but some of my favorite ones are by regular joes.
Reviews of books about heroin! But the thing is that when you are a junkie, you care about one thing: junk. You wake up. You get well. You spend the day trying to get enough money to get enough dope with enough time left for you to do it before you get dopesick. That’s it. That’s what you do. Every day. It’s repetitive and boring (albeit brutal and difficult and demoralizing and a lot of other things), and no matter how many quirky characters come and go from your life, no matter how many trips you make to the methadone clinic or how many band tours you go on, how many times you kick or try to go cold turkey in Jamaica, how many stints you do in rehab or jail, that’s the life of a junkie. And that’s why these books do not tend to be very good: It is very, very difficult to write a book about a boring and repetitive life without the book being boring and repetitive. All heroin books need 75 percent of their contents to go away, and the world would be a better place. Even you, William S. Burroughs. 75 percent fewer words.
…and yet I keep reading them.
More short reviews of novels: A Cool Breeze on the Underground (mystery), Ten Thousand Saints (…literary?), Punkzilla (epistolary)
Book reviews, punk rock fiction edition. Three novels: two YA and one mystery.
As a follow-up to my last post, 25 awesome music books that happen to have been written by women, here are like 30 more. Some are ones I just plain forgot about, some are recs my friends sent that either came too late or I chose not to include for my own weird reasons, and some are culled from comments in various places.
Earlier this week, Pitchfork published a list of their 60 favorite music books. It is pretty wide-ranging and there are many good books on the list. (And some I really hated.) But only one was written by a woman, and two had lady coauthors. Come the fuck on.
This pissed plenty of people off, and lists have been sprouting up. This amazon list has 50 music books by women, but it’s a straight-up list with no commentary and some books I do not think are very good. Flavorwire’s ten great books about music by female writers does a more thorough job, and includes many of the books on my own list (and one I hated). Their list of 33 female music critics you need to read is also pretty good.
So I also made a list! You can find it below. Min was kind enough to write a few sentences about the books she loved, and I did the rest. There are a few books on here that neither of us has read but which have come highly recommended by several people I trust; in those cases, I have provided a synopsis, but they’re not blind recs. Her paragraphs are marked with [asd] and mine with [pez].
TWENTY-FIVE (ISH) AWESOME BOOKS ABOUT MUSIC
that happen to have been written by ladies
or at least co-written in a few cases
I went to see Verbal Abuse and Dayglo Abortions over the weekend, and the last time I tried to write a concert report, it turned into this other thing instead, so now I am trying again. We’re also going to pretend this is a book review.
The afternoon of the show, I finished reading “Argh Fuck Kill: The Story of the DayGlo Abortions,” by Chris Walter. I’m a sucker for stories about tour shenanigans, and there were many in this book, so I mostly enjoyed it. The one currently sticking out is the time the guitarist, Cretin, got hit in the face with someone’s headstock, and it damn near ripped his nose off. The obvious answer here was to pack the wound with cocaine, cover it with duct tape, and finish the show. Amazing. (There’s a picture, even.) It was also really cool to get a feel for the early Canadian punk scene — the old clubs and crowds and bands that just aren’t around anymore. That was very, very good stuff, and Walter (as much as I complain about his use of epithets) can be a very evocative writer when he’s writing what he knows. So a lot of the book was very well done, and I’m glad I read it.
It is, however, one of those books that has this kind of tee-hee Boys Will Be Boys approach to violence. You know: “Now, kids, violence is really bad, and I would never ever condone it, but I’m going to spend the next three pages describing the blood dripping from this guy’s head wound in graphic, loving detail. So you know it’s bad. Very, very bad.” There were many, many passages devoted to the blood spilled at Dayglos shows. And I let that fuck with me a little bit, frankly; I figured there was a non-zero chance that the show was going to be a horrifically violent mess from which I’d be lucky to escape alive. I rationalized my concern a bit, too: As with any deliberately offensive band, there’s always some small element that takes them seriously, and there’s the usual gender balance at a hardcore show to think about. So, yeah, I was worried. I actually said to a friend before I left, “well, worst-case scenario is that I get cut. I think that’s acceptable.” I was trying to be positive and upbeat.
Thus fortified, I set off to the Cobra Lounge.
…where everyone was very friendly, I got hugged many times by strangers, had a fantastic time singing and dancing and shouting, and still somehow emerged a bruised and bloody mess.
title: Pretty in Punk: Girls’ Gender Resistance in a Boys’ Subculture
author: Lauraine Leblanc
other shit: 1999, Rutgers University Press. 231 pages + appendices (including a hilarious punk glossary!), notes, index.
rating: 3/5 safety pins
According to my records, I have apparently been working on this post since the beginning of April. I kept starting it, and then I’d realize that I’d written a few thousand words about combat boots. About the first pair I ever got, at 13, about the years of fighting I had to do to get them, because “you can have combat boots when you go into combat.” I think that’s a thing people say as a brush-off, but I come from a military family; my father meant it. Which is to say that wearing combat boots was never about wearing combat boots.
At any rate, I sometimes wish I’d hung onto that first pair. I can still picture them by the door in the last apartment they were ever in, patched with duct tape. I can feel them on my feet, lopsided but comfortable, the outside of their soles worn noticeably lower than the inside. I remember when I finally replaced them, putting the old pair next to the new, realizing that the new pair was a full inch taller than the old. I believe this is my fourth pair.