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Tales of a Punk Rock Nothing by Himelstein A. & Schweser J.

Tales of a Punk Rock Nothing by Himelstein A. & Schweser J.

A novel about a young Jewish punk who moves from a small town in Tennessee to Washington DC in the early 90's. A tale of militant vegetarians, riot grrrls, and manifesto-writing shoplifters who live together, rock together, and publish zines together. The story is told through journal entries, zines, and letters.

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A work of genius. Or at least, a highly inventive, authentic, and thoroughly entertaining "novel" following the travails and adventures of a young modern punk rocker—as seen through his diary entries, letters, fanzines, flyers, and associated detritus. Being in a band, doing a zine, the allure of D.C., Food Not Bombs and political activism—it's all here.

 

This is a fast-paced, gripping story; fun and true. As a member of the Seattle anarcho-punk scene during the same years (early-mid 1990s), I can say that the authors got it right. And they take you along on the ride, in the back of dirty vans, in punk shared houses, in trips to steal from K-mart. Yeah--it does read like a zine, but (A) that's a good thing and (B) it reads like a really good zine. But Schweser and Himelstein give us more than just a novel about DC punk life, they also critique it from within; showing its weaknesses and hypocrisies. They give particular attention to challenging a rabid, angst-ridden riot grrl, who's breed of feminism is uncomfortable with the world. The critique is weakened in its caricature, but it does raise some interesting questions about one narrow type of feminism, political intolerance, and fun in the punk scene. Hopefully some good discussions will be inspired by this book, which tells a lively tale, states its beefs, and celebrates the creativity and autonomy of anarcho-punk.