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Book Reviews

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Below are some recently posted reviews.

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Amazing Punk Stories
By David Agranoff, 263 pgs.
By MP Johnson

Punk rock and weird fiction collide perfectly in the thirteen short stories collected in this book. Things get brutal. Really brutal. Backwoods punk rock cannibals brutal.

The Bell Tolls for No One
By Charles Bukowski, edited by David Stephen Calonne, 305 pgs.
By Jim Woster

City Lights found some more Bukowski for a new collection. The first story is a 1948 attempt to write like the serious and important writers did. One of them is a dumbass fantasy about rooming with Hitler and farting out a tiny creature that Hitler celebrates for some reason. 

Cattle Cult! Kill! Kill!
By MP Johnson, 152 pgs.
By Matthew Hart

In a small Wisconsin town, something strange is afoot. Sure, there’s blood, cults, spiked pig head flails, and otherworldly corn stocks. However, underneath the gore and guts is a story. A romance.

Dirty Version, The
By Buddha Monk and Mickey Hess, 237 pgs.
By Jimmy Alvarado

This tome recounts Ol' Dirty Bastard’s life—his early days and the Wu-Tang’s origins, connections to the old neighborhood, and the toll sudden wealth and fame took on all of the above—as well as Buddha’s history as a Wu-Tang affiliate and hip hop producer and performer. 

Fresh Fruit for Rotting Vegetables
By Michael Stewart Foley, 177 pgs.
By Kevin Dunn

Michael Stewart Foley’s Fresh Fruit for Rotting Vegetables is one of the newest releases in the “33 1/3” book series, an on-going series of short works each focusing on an iconic record, this time: the Dead Kennedys debut album.

Immune System, The: A Dewey Decimal Novel
By Nathan Larson, 287 pgs.
By Michael T. Fournier

Dewey Decimal is a mercenary in a dystopian New York City with no bridges: they were destroyed by terrorists on Valentine’s Day, leaving Manhattan Balkanized by organized crime syndicates.

Losing in Gainesville
By Brian Costello, 524 pgs.
By Chris Terry

Losing in Gainesvilleis five hundred pages of quarter-life crisis for the type of dudes who start a new band every time they get drunk, but haven’t actually touched their guitars in months.

One Chord Wonders: Power and Meaning in Punk Rock
By Dave Laing, 224 pgs.
By Jimmy Alvarado

An exhaustive (and often exhausting) overview of the myriad parts of the British punk scene—the use of names; the utilization of musical structures; lyrics; fashion; attitudes on and offstage; its place within the music industry of the time; what it might’ve all meant.

Pipe Bomb for the Soul
By Alice Bag, 112 pgs.
By Kevin Dunn

Pipe Bomb for the Soul is a collection of Alice Bag’s memoirs from her time spent in Nicaragua in 1986. While most political punks in the ‘80s were content to sing about what a dickhead Reagan was, Bag actually traveled to Nicaragua to help out.

Please Bee Nice: My Life Up ‘Til Now
By Gary Floyd with David Ensminger, 69 pgs.
By Sean Arenas

Gary Floyd was the singer for The Dicks, one of Texas’ most infamous and revered punk bands. His autobiography documents his upbringing, the formation of The Dicks (and the “‘new’ Dicks” in San Francisco), and his journey to inner peace.

Sunshine Crust Baking Factory, The
By Stacy Wakefield, 223 pgs.
By Garrett Barnwell

The Sunshine Crust Baking Factory serves as a fair novelization of a scene that the author is keenly informed of and even those with no first-hand knowledge of squatting will appreciate the author’s ability to nail the atmosphere of that part of NYC in the mid-nineties.

What Is Punk?
By Eric Morse, 32 pgs.
By Indiana Laub

This is a fun little book intended to serve as (rhyming) curriculum for little punks learning their Punk History 101. You know the narrative: Stooges, CBGB, Ramones, all the Brits, all the women, California hardcore, so on and so forth.

Featured Book Review from Issue #87
A Wailing of a Town
By Staff

An Oral History of Early San Pedro Punk and More 1977–1985.
“It took thirty pages for Please Kill Me to show its ass, but it only
took fifteen for A Wailing of a Town to show its heart.” –Kelley O’Death

A Wailing of a Town: An Oral History of Early San Pedro Punk and More 1977–1985
By Craig Ibarra, 344 pgs.
By Kelley O’Death

It took thirty pages for Please Kill Me to show its ass, but it only took fifteen for A Wailing of a Town to show its heart.

This Must Be the Place
By Sean H. Doyle, 94 pgs.
By Jim Woster

The “My-Fucked-Up-Life” share is its own genre now, and has moved past the critique of “We’ve read this already,” which would be like panning a detective novel for featuring another private investigator as narrator. 

The Sunshine Crust Baking Factory
By Stacy Wakefield, 228 pgs.
By Chris Terry

After high school, Sid arrives in New York City hoping to move into a Lower East Side squat. When she finds the buildings full of cliques, she squats an abandoned Brooklyn bakery, grows up a bit, and manages to create community.

Snakepit Gets Old
By Ben Snakepit, 285 pgs.
By Lisa Weiss

It’s all about doing grown-up stuff like going to work in the morning, getting married, and passing kidney stones. Going to shows and playing shows, apparently, also fall into the category of stuff people do when they get old. 

Forty Watt Flowers, The
By C.M. Subasic, 244 pgs.
By Steve Hart

Putting together a band is difficult. There are the awkward first rehearsals, the fights about what direction the band should take, and what kind of music they should play. Starting a band is unnerving and frustrating. The Forty Watt Flowersis a novel that documents the beginning of an “all-girl” band in Athens, Georgia in the early '90s. 

A Fictional Tale of Things
By Gary Llama, 119 pgs.
By Kurt Morris

The story seeks to be one of redemption and focuses on the main character’s attempt to find some purpose in spite of a job he hates. He ends up finding it in his wife and daughter, and contrasts this search with tales from his past experiences with depression.

While Llama claims this book is fictional, from what I remember of his past work, I can’t help but think much of this is autobiographical. That being the case, why not just make this a memoir? And if it’s a memoir, there needs to be a lot of expansion.

Collected Poems & Stories
By Mallory Whitten, 101 pgs.
By Indiana Laub

Mallory Whitten’s poems range from vulgar haiku to surreal dream recaps to transcripts of emotional phone calls. They are hyper-confessional, painfully, casually intimate to a degree that may only come this naturally to those generations that grew up—are growing up—with unlimited access to social media. 

Featured Book Reviews from Issue #86
You want innovation? Get into experimental jazz.
By Staff

Our latest batch of featured book reviews covers the gamut from heroin addiction 
to female Italian Renaissance painters. Plus a new Soy, Not Oi cookbook!

Featured Book Reviews from Issue #85
Dysfunction is never the wind in your sails
By Staff

A peek inside Issue 85's book reviews reveals the highs and lows of Lookout Records, life-or-death dodgeball, and the truth behind so many Ramones rumors. 

Boston Hardcore & Punk Factsheet
By Chris Wrenn, 64 pgs.
By Kurt Morris

Chris Wrenn, the founder of Bridge Nine Records, is also a Boston transplant, coming to the city in the late 1990s from Connecticut by way of Vermont. As a way to meet people and integrate himself in the scene, he put out monthly fact sheets on the hardcore and punk scene here, appropriately titled Boston Hardcore & Punk Factsheet.

Crate Digger: An Obsession with Punk Records
By Bob Suren, 191 pgs.
By Matt Average

A couple years back, Bob’s life changed drastically and he was forced to clean house and start from scratch. Selling off a massive record collection, as well as zines and flyers he collected for over three decades, he has since set out on a new journey, but he’s also taking some time and looking back on the past and putting it all into perspective. This book is about that.

Get into Comix
By Brad Dwyer, 72 pgs.
By Ollie Mikse

Get into Comix focuses mostly on Dwyer’s life during and after high school. (The “wilderness years,” if you will). As Dwyer’s life got more immersed in punk rock, DIY ethics, and the local music scene, it also started spiralling out of control.

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·Interview With Fifth Hour Hero
·Webcomic Wednesdays #108
·High, Low, and In Between

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