Sunday, August 11, 2013

Punk Rock Girl

Since I'm rapidly becoming a local horror celebrity, at least in my own fevered mutant imagination, I figured I'd better start doing some stuff to justify my existence. Hence, this blog, and now... book reviews! Please bear with me as I learn, since my critical faculties aren't the most highly-developed in the world. My reviews generally sound like either, "Yeah, it was decent," or "Sucked a big dung dong." I'll try to offer a little more nuance than that going forward.
So, going forward, as one is wont to do, I--wait, when the hell did I slice a 2-centimeter gash in my thumb, apparently without even noticing? I don't recall toying with either blades or lasers today... or very thin wire... most vexing. Anyway, my first book review will be for the short novel (or novelissijous, to be more precise), "Chick Bassist," by noted editor, anagram fan, and certified Bigfoot Non-Sighter, Ross E. Lockhart. I will also eventually be reviewing his two "Book of Cthulhu" anthologies of Lovecraftian tales, but to save time, you should go ahead and just buy them now, before my persuasive powers can whip you into a frenzy of reckless consumerism. And now, the review!

What happens when a band breaks up? Most people, if you asked them, would guess something like "mass suicide atop a pyre of flaming records." These imaginary people are stupid and ignorant. The truth is that ex-bandmates scatter in different directions like neutrons bursting from a fission reaction, but without the whole nuclear holocaust and all. The scattered neutrons that once made up the recently-exploded band Heroes for Goats, however, aren't as charge-neutral as they think--one of them is arcing inevitably through Punkspace toward another on a rage-fueled rocket scooter. Bay Area word wrangler Ross Lockhart's "Chick Bassist" traces those somewhat wobbly paths in detail, hopping through the points of view of each of the band members as they blearily make their way toward whatever reconfigured, but maybe not quite as Goats-free as they expected, destiny awaits. As William Faulkner said, "The past is never dead. It's not even past."* More dare I say not, lest I reveal too much!
While the book is thin, the author doesn't waste any words, setting a properly punk rock pace that pulls you right through the story without letting up. Occasional pauses to take a mental breath are recommended, as is the playing of whatever music might be mentioned in the text as you go (the Internet is the biggest jukebox in history--use it before someone ruins it completely). The use of different voices for the different points of view that the story cycles through fortunately comes across as more than just a gimmick. Each is compelling to read for a different reason as you follow along for a while in the lives of a few people who, deep down, aren't entirely sure whether they're on their way up or down.
Hey, I just realized I can claim allegiance with punk rock pioneers like the Ramones and those scuzzy overrated fucks the Sex Pistols by keeping my review quick and punchy! That's such an awesome excuse for half-assing my way through a book review that I'm not even going to bother faking it. So, closing thoughts? Two: Jennifer Army may even be a better name for a fictional band than Three-Arm Sally, and this review wasn't that hard to write, so I assume I've bungled it in catastrophic fashion. Whee, defeat is liberating!

*No, I am not sucking up for MENSA Bonus Points, I just really love that quote.

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