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Book Reviews

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Featured Book Reviews from Issue #91
The Story of Lookout Records, Portland Punk, Specious Species, Sick Pack
By Staff

Fabulo’s abs don’t want fame and fortune. They want freedom!

Big Shiny Prison, The: Volume 1
By Ryan Bartek, 484 pgs.
By Michael T. Fournier

This book, the first of several installments, recounts Ryan Bartek’s nine months on the road, on busses and on tour, all the adventures he has, all the people and bands he talks to and interviews. But despite all the experience, all the words and pages, remarkably little is said.

Good Trouble: Building a Successful Life and Business with Asperger’s
By Joe Biel, 222 pgs.
By Adrian Salas

Joe Biel’s autobiography serves two functions: Biel’s personal history as seen through the twin lenses of an evolving punk ideology and an Asperger’s syndrome diagnosis, and a history of Microcosm publications.

Good Trouble: Building a Successful Life and Business with Asperger’s
By Joe Biel, 222 pgs.
By Kurt Morris

Anyone in the zine scene in the past twenty years knows of Microcosm. For many years they were the largest zine distro out there. A lot has changed with Microcosm and founder Joe Biel, though.

Locust House: A Novella
By Adam Gnade, 48 pgs.
By Kurt Morris

Adam Gnade has written a novella that tells the story of a house show—the last night for the house before the residents are evicted.

Railroad Semantics: Train Hopping Across Montana, Wyoming, Utah, Nevada,
California, and Oregon By Aaron Dactyl, 96 pgs.
By Jackie Rusted

The life of a traveling kid is a simple one. The layer of filth on your skin is a badge of honor and everything you need to survive is meant to be carried on your back.

True Homosexual Experiences
By William E. Jones, 220 pgs.
By Jim Woster

Like William Burroughs, Boyd McDonald was what writer William E. Jones calls an “Ivy League fuck-up.”

All Ages: The Rise and Fall of Portland Punk Rock 1977-1981
By Mark Sten, 315 pgs.
By Jimmy Alvarado

Portland’s Mark Sten’s take on the scene’s history unravels more like a memoir than straitlaced history, peppering its traditional timeline format with personal anecdotes, snarky comments, and heapings of the sarcastic wit that made punk’s early waves so goddamned funny.

Disco’s Out... Murder’s In!
By Heath Mattioli & David Spacone, illustrated by Raymond Pettibon, 224 pgs.
By Jim Woster

Most histories and memoirs of the ‘80s Los Angeles punk scene address its pervasive violence. Disco’s Out … Murder’s In! tells the story from the violence’s point of view.

Do-It-Yourself Guide to Fighting the Big Motherfuckin’ Sad, The
By Adam Gnade, 60 pgs.
By Adrian Salas

As summarized in the title, this is basically a compact guidebook to dealing with depression and/or general malaise. Much of Gnade’s advice is often laid out in succinct, easily digestible, seven point lists.

How to Ru(i)n a Record Label: The Story of Lookout Records
By Larry Livermore, 282 pgs.
By Michael T. Fournier

It appears Livermore’s answer to the titular question is to hire a woman. As Molly Neuman becomes part of the label’s management, we see Lookout! Records come off the rails, acting like a major label, spending ridiculous money on barely-seen videos, putting out more records than it can adequately promote, and dealing with Ben Weasel.

Single Stroke Seven
By Lavinia Ludlow, 185 pgs.
By Kurt Morris

Single Stroke Seven is a novel whose protagonist Lilith drums for a band called Disonanz. All the members of the band are struggling through quarter-life crises—working jobs they hate or having no work at all, lacking health care, and struggling to make a go of the one thing that they (or at least Lilith) want to do: make music.

Specious Species, No. 7
Edited by Joe Donohoe, 282 pgs.
By Adrian Salas

This anthology covers an admirably far-ranging physical and historical area (often informed by a punk perspective), and feels like a text that supplements the study of California’s many unique yet integral historical eccentricities. Boasting around forty entries, contributions range from comics and poems, to interviews, to exhaustive historical surveys.

Sick Pack
By MP Johnson, 104 pgs.
By Paul J. Comeau

Sick Pack is the story of a man and his abs. Male model Fabulo’s six pack has brought him fame and fortune, but Fabulo’s abs launch a daring plan to escape him and his drudgery of crunches, leg lifts, and constant flexing. The result is an absurd and surreal tale of body parts trying to find themselves, and a man left to figure out who he is. 

Featured Book Reviews from Razorcake Issue 90
Featuring Denvoid, Human Punk, Last Mass, and Restart Me Up
By Staff

Punk’s heart, punk’s past, Windows 95, and Spain’s colonization of California.

Denvoid and the Cowtown Punks: A Collection of Stories from the ‘80s Denver Punk
By Bob Rob Medina, 228 pgs.
By Rev. Norb

This is a huge, weighty, colorful, stinky, profusely illustrated, sparsely photographed book about the Denver scene of the 1980s, a scene that, due to relative geographic isolation and the absence of internet, mutated largely along its own trajectory.

Human Punk
By John King, 341 pgs.
By Michael T. Fournier

Joe Martin, the novel’s protagonist, is a rough-and-tumble teenager when Human Punkbegins in 1977. He lives with his parents, hangs around with his friends, and picks cherries and works in pubs to finance his record buying and drinking. Between tube station dust-ups with boot boys he sees tons of bands play, including a SPOTS-era Sex Pistols gig. And there’s tons of speed to be snorted.

Last Mass
By Jamie Iredell, 199 pgs.
By Jim Woster

Jamie Iredell set out to write his big novel about Spain’s colonization of California.What Iredell ended up writing was his own collage of California’s colonial history and his Catholic upbringing on California’s CentralCoast.

Nihilist, The: A Philosophical Novel
By John Marmysz, 164 pgs.
By Keith Rosson

The book honestly seems to be little more than a vehicle for the author to expound on his philosophical viewpoints. Page after page after page of them, be it in straight dictation to the reader, or in stiff, unrealistic verbal debate between the main character and someone, anyone else.

Restart Me Up: The Unauthorized, Un-Accurate Oral History of Windows 95
By Lesley Tsina, 80 pgs.
By Michael T. Fournier

Windows 95- Lesley Tsina has written a fake oral history. She understands the aforementioned folly, that the computer realm is loaded with gags and punch lines, and elevates the oral history form to new comedic heights with this (mostly) fabricated story of Microsoft’s lauded operating system.

Tables without Chairs #1
By Bud Smith & Brian Alan Ellis, 164 pgs.
By MP Johnson

There are two novellas about slacker dudes going about their day-to-day slacker business. Between them is a spread of bullshit—and I mean that in the nicest way possible.

Vile Men
By Rebecca Jones-Howe, 189 pgs.
By Jim Woster

In Vile Men, Jones-Howe forges into our collective sexual grotesque of victims and predators and discovers actual human beings everywhere she looks.

Featured Book Reviews from Issue #89
David Ensminger, Ian Svenonius, Mario T. Garcia
By Staff

Up front: Ensminger is a great interviewer. He’s interested in his subject(s), he knows how to ask questions that will disarm and pique the interest of his interviewees to elicit more than a simple answer, and clearly does his homework. –Jimmy Alvarado

Just Words
By Brian Czarnik, 181 pgs.
By Michael T. Fournier

Band biographies are cut from the cloth woven from these stories: the connections, networks, and names. Brian Czarnik’s Just Words is no exception. Starting from his pre-punk metal youth, he walks us through his time in the aforementioned Oblivion, as well as his time in the Bollweevils.

That’s Entertainment: My Life in the Jam
By Rick Buckler
By koepenick

This effort is extremely thorough and dives deeper into Buckler’s life after the band disintegrated. If you were ever a fan of The Jam, you need this book to connect the dots. Essential!

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