Audiobooks Hairstyles of the DamnedAuthor Joe Meno – Sharkmotorcyclehelmets.co.uk


damn i really like this book a sort of love story from the pov of a sort of metalhead punk rock boy at a catholic boys school, the fat girl he s in love with, his assorted friends getting high and drinking shitty beer in the basement, divorcing parents, and generally coming of age there are two moments that I especially love, his describing a girl as something like mean and sour looking, like she d just make out with you because she s bored and his feeling after going to his first small club punk show 7 seconds and feeling like all the outcasts were or should be in it together. Earlier this year, I decided to stop buying books Instead, I would check them out of the library and only buy copies of the ones I really loved But this book and its intriguing title made me break that rule I read theexcerpt and really thought I would like it, but the library didn t carry it So I went to Barnes Noble and read evenof it I liked the beginning so much that I had visions of it becoming My New Favorite Thing I decided to take a chance and buy it I paid good money for this I hate myself I read 26 pages at Barnes Noble The book started to suck on page, oh, 27 It s not fair I thought I was being so careful I thought I was making a smart gamble But no I m an idiot Nobuying full priced books without reading them first.It s not like this book is terrible It s just not my kind of book The beginning made me think it was going to be surprising and ballsy and hilarious But minus all the punk rock references, it was just an ordinary, completely clich coming of age story After page 27, I didn t laugh once I just kept waiting for it to get interesting again, but it kept gettingandpredictable and boring. Hairstyles Is An Honest Depiction Of Growing Up Punk On Chicago S South Side A Study In The Demons Of Racial Intolerance, Catholic School Conformism And Class Repression It Is The Story Of The Riotous Exploits Of Brian, A High School Burnout, And His Best Friend Gretchen, A Punk Rock Girl Fond Of Brawling I really enjoyed Meno s Boy Detective Fails to the point where I couldn t imagine that a book about growing up as an awkward punk in Chicago in 1990 would actually be a young adult novel Turns out it is, demonstrating a lot of the simple moralising that exemplifies the way adults write for teenagers in todays book market Meh There s a lot of great observations that took me back to that time in my life when I was an awkward teenage punk in England but really, what s here for an adult At times it feels very much like a punky John Hughes movie for the 90s complete with the Chicago setting and who knows perhaps as a teen I would have loved this. We re not the first, I hope we re not the last Cause I know we re all heading for that adult crash The time is so little, the time belongs to us Why is everybody in such a fucking rush Make do with what you have Take what you can get Pay no mind to us We re just a minor threat We re just a minor threat.Ahh. sweet memories of stomping around my room raging as loud as a 15 year old can rage in suburbia without upsetting the rents Good times Good times.Joe Meno has got it down He s in the zone Angst, derived from the german word angst or the dutch word angst Wiki says the word angst is not a loanword as it is in English, but has been in existence long, and is used regularly to express fear In long existence No shitHairstyles of the Damned is centered in Chicago, circa 1991 Anthony, you remember that, right Brian, the protagonist is around sixteen seventeen..that normal, hormonal, acne laden, erection erupting mess of self doubt We all remember that..right Brian s scene is the punk metal crowd More metal than punk so it was easier for me to distance myself from him, no literary crushes happening here, and that is what made this bookthan your average angst story to me I lived in that crowd We took the greyhound to Boston every Sunday to attend all ages punk shows I was 15, these shows were at 1pm, it all worked out. catering to the youth That time is such a staple for who I am now. so so many bands, so much moshing, so much drama Meno gets it right, we were worse than the jocks cheerleaders. we were much harsher on each other. Your uniqueness is not cool enough for us There was one group of punks that always caught my eye They were definitely part of the cool crowd The hung outside the club in their leather jackets and torn fishnets, with just the right hair and makeup The boy was beautiful. blonde, dreadlocked, pale. I always looked forward to seeing them and sort of mulling around their coolness Well, this one weekend, we were staying at a friend s dorm and didn t have to worry about curfew or anything, after the show, Robyn met up with this cool crowd outside SHE KNEW THEM I was so freaking nervous, I hid behind my bangs while she talked to them Next thing, we re going to hang with them No Freaking Way We followed through the streets of Cambridge at one point cutting through a office building, I m not sure the point of this. but they wanted to take the elevator. just to do it, I suppose. so, there we are, waiting The doors open and they jump in and block the entrance for me and my friend Only people wearing leather can ride in this elevator Huh Wait Um what about the unity, the common hatred for the bland Meno gets itWe were the lucky ones we had it all figured out We had somehow managed to avoid being brainwashed by reckless corporations and it was our right our destiny to help by eliminating every bad cassette in the mall parking lot, tape by tape, car by car, day by day My thickly black eyelinered eyes were opened We were mall rats who liked to dress up and think we were better than everyone else We spent hours, and hundreds of cans of Aquanet, making sure our hair stood just right We spent our allowance on the new Misfits album, or the new Dead Kennedys. we danced and roared and understood none of it God, I hate my punk rock selfI think a lot of these punk kids we know are fucking poseurs, I said I think most of them, they just do whatever, you know, to fit in It s like a totally mindless act Like Kim, it s all about fucking fashion What the fuck are you talking about I m talking about how you two guys are like the most close minded people I know, I said you don t even know what punk is about, you know You just dress like it because you were like a loser and it, like, gave you someone to be after junior high, something to belong to, you know Wow Slap in the face This is so sad. I want to hit my 15 year old self with my black light but she d probably like it and like write a poem about it I wasn t lying when I said that this time in my life formed who I am Those shows watching Kevin Seconds make the moshing pit push back so a little punk girl wasn t crushed against the stage. seeing Ian Makaye yell at a bunch of assholes who were cheering during Suggestion I learned a lot about myself and what I wanted my life to be about These bands gave me inspiration and made me study events or movements that mattered to them. that should matter to all I wouldn t change it. even the x s that I shaved into the sides of my head to announce my straight edged ness The reason that I only gave this book 3 stars should really be like 3.8 is that I felt that Meno was getting all Breakfast Clubby up in my face I need no moral tale I just liked the re visitation of that slice of life He does mention this one scene when Brian is watching Night of the Living Dead and he s describing the sceneThere was this one scene where the hero, this young black dude, and the heroine, this kind of high strng white girl, are like hiding out in this old farmhouse trying to avoid being strangled by hundreds of zombies, right , and it turns out that in the cellar or basement of the farmhouse, well there are all these other people, white people, and they were hiding down there and they knew what the fuck was going on upstairs but they didn t help the back guy and white chick, and so the black guy starts yelling at this dude who is kind of middle aged and blue collar, the leader of the white people who were all chicken shit, and the whit dude says something like We were in a safe place Are you telling me we were supposed to leave our safe place just to help someone out Yeah, it s like that. So, hmm Like I said down there in the comments chat I had with Samara, it s a really really good thing I was already in love with Joe Meno from reading The Boy Detective Fails and Demons in the Spring, because this book really wasn t that great I mean, it was fine, and maybe it was a littlegroundbreaking when it came out, but by now it s just kind of a stale predictable coming of age story It felt very real, and I believed in the characters and the plot, but that s because they re the same characters and the same plot of pretty much any suburban disaffected youth story including my own Plus, worse, the writing isn t great it mostly feels pretty amateurish I know I probably say this too much, but if he d had a good editor and cut about a quarter of the book and streamlined and polished it, it could have been a whole lot better As it is it s pink hair and drunken make outs and fistfights and mixtapes and punk music and furious masturbation and smoking a lot of pot and trying to fit in and dicking around in school and wishing life was better and feeling alienated and alone all of which is both fertile ground and totally par for the course, but aside from the racial overtones and a very very few poignant tender moments, there was nothing new, nothing urgent Or maybe I m just getting too old for this sort of thing, which holy shit would that be depressing Maybe I ll go get stoned and thrash around at a punk show this weekend to prove I m not. Unlike most of the other reviewers, I had not heard of this book or Mr Meno before, and had no expectations going into it.What I deem to be positive about this book are its attention to racial tension in the main character s environment, its lack of sugarcoating of what teenage kids are really like full of mistakes, pettiness, and insensitivity towards others visibly portrayed through the uses of non PC words many teenagers often utter gay, retarded, faggot, slut, fatty, etc , and the moral ambiguity of the characters The fact that Brian Oswald, the main protagonist and narrator of the novel, is at times highly repulsive and not really a model teenager was very realistic, and made his personal tribulations that mucheffective in resonating within me Because none of us are always good, because none of us are always right, we make mistakes, and we ultimately possess both good and evil in us that, in turn, make us human and not always proud of this fact this was the strongest point of the book for me There were also a few passages that were beautiful in their roughness of the narration, such as Brian s moments with his father.The negative sides were its ultimate lack of determination to drive its main point home at the end which, I thought, was that despite all of our shortcomings, we must press forward to make positive changes , and its surprising lack of unconventionalities While I could certainly see that it was a book aimed at a very specific demographic i.e white teenage suburban youth into so called alternative subcultures , I feel that Mr Meno traveled into a very well worn road with this book It wouldn t be such a stretch to say that it s in the same vein as another book I enjoyed, The Perks of Being A Wallflower, as they both are coming of age tales of white, hetero male youths While it honestly portrayedugly aspects of reality than Perks ever did making fun of fat girls, calling weak kids faggots and putting them down, labeling promiscuous girls sluts, uncensored portrayals of white nationalism, etc , it lacked any form of remorse or vindication for those wrongs It merely stated, never quite pointed to the why or the how to change them, with the exception of brief passages on why the black kids were so angry Perhaps I m expecting too much from what is essentially just another YA novel, but given that it is aimed at alternative youths and published by an extension of the now defunct progressive zine, Punk Planet, I feel that these are fairly reasonable hopes.Despite all this, I found myself engaged in the book, and enjoying it for the most part. Any book that assaults your dad with Misfits lyrics and pranks the school bully with photos of kitty cats with X s on their eyes and pleas to be kind because everytime you re mean one of us dies is pretty much one of the greatest punk high school kid coming of age stories ever I ain t no Goddamn son of a bitch Hairstyles of the Damned is about Brian Oswald, a guy in high school who is growing up punk At first he s a sort of needy and whiny character who is in love with his best friend, but as time passes in his harsh high school he must learn to be tough and act like a punk He meets people, does drugs, listen to cool punk music, and gets a girlfriend or two along the way.Um, yeah I kinda strongly disliked this book, I mean it wasn t the worst thing ever but I felt like I could have just used the time I read this book reading another book and yeah if you re wondering why I just didn t quit half way, it s because I NEVER leave a book unfinished So anyway basically I really couldn t connect with any of the characters, the plot was extremely weird, and if there were any punk rock references I guess I didn t pick up on them.Overall I understand that this book appeals to a certain type of reader The reason why this book doesn t get one star is because there were some VERY rare moments where I somewhat connected with what Brian was going through hello, high school angst And yet I was left disappointed by this one Good effort from the author though My full review of this book is much longer than GoodReads word count limits Find the entire essay at the Chicago Center for Literature and Photography cclapcenter.com So a big confession before anything else that I went into this book really wanting to like author Joe Meno And of course part of why I want to like him is because he s a Chicago writer, one of thehigh profile writers in Chicago right now in fact, who has won the prestigious Nelson Algren award in the past and who used to do a column for the legendary zine Punk Planet, who is now a well liked professor at Chicago s Columbia College and is single handedly shaping an entire new generation of Midwestern authors Plus I want to like Joe Meno because I m acquaintances with a couple of people at Punk Planet Books, the newish publishing company who put out Meno s 2004 novel Hairstyles of the Damned and not only that, but am acquaintances with a couple of people at Akashic Books as well, theestablished small press that helped Punk Planet Books come into being Plus it s a book about Chicago, set in the city, ostensibly covering the same period of time as my own youth, and supposedly full of pop culture references to my own youth, so really how could I not be looking forward to reading it, and of becoming a fan of Meno s Which is why I suppose what I have to say in today s essay is so disappointing, because now after reading Hairstyles myself I actually feel kind of let down I mean, don t get me wrong, it s certainly not a bad book, but it s also certainly not as good a book as I was expecting from a guy with his kind of background cred and whose book has sold a whopping 80,000 copies as of the writing of this essay It s merely a so so book, in fact, a maudlin fictionalized memoir about the city s southwest side in the late 80s and early 90s, which contains diamonds in the rough to be sure, but ones that are unfortunately surrounded by a lot of pabulum and pastiche Much of it, to be frank, feels like it could ve been written by any anonymous youngish angsty author, with the manuscript filled with the kinds of top ten list indie rock gimmicks that felt hackneyed even when Nick Hornby was using them in 1995 Why yes, he says, as a certain amount of you now roll your eyes, this is one of those indie rock novels that have become so popular among a certain crowd since the mid 90s or so, which you should be prepared for before starting that if you disdain breathless exclamations about how a punk show can singlehandedly and permanently change a person s life, you need to stay the hell away from Hairstyles and do it fast And this should come as no surprise, of course, coming as it does from Punk Planet Books duh , born from the ashes of one of the most respected indie rock publications in history when the small press first started up, in fact, I m sure such a manuscript seemed like something right up their alley, the kind of novel they had been created to publish in the first place But there are problems with the indie rock novel format, serious literary problems that