Sunday, February 10, 2013

Reading Journal: Smash Your Head on the Punk Rock, by Matt Bissonette (2007)

A chronicle of four friends in late 70s/early 80s Montreal who grow into and out of punk rock, more as a coping mechanism than for any other reason. The author - Matt Bissonette the Canadian screenwriter, not the Navy SEAL behind the tell-all about killing bin Laden - knows the scene and the fan-child types around it, and the book is full of manic action, always from different points of view, which keeps you reading. In the end some characters grow up and others don't, which is pretty gritty in and of itself, and the pages of sex and drugs and stupid stunts that kept you reading finally bring you to a place where you know that this kind of behaviour has to end... whether it does or not. Particularly successful is Bissonnette's choice to break up the "present" of the action with a road diary from the future from one character who ends up becoming a roadie, which lends a sense of "this too shall pass" to the more-or-less senseless action that we're reading. I found myself looking forward to the ending, perhaps because the immature punk rock life is the same day in and day out, (which was of course the book's point), but the writer took a lot of enjoyable stylistic risks - dream sequences, drug trips and more, rendered in stream-of-consciousness - which made the journey feel more important than the destination.

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