Book Reviews

No Flash, Please! Underground Music in Toronto 1987-92 By Derek von Essen and Phil Saunders

It is clear through the photographs and stories in this book, that the punk rock scene in Toronto was a blast. So many photos of so many shows!

Perfect Mix Tape Segue #6 By Joe Biel

Joe Biel founded Microcosm, a press and distro that have been a hub of the zine scene since the early 2000s. Joe is now persona non grata in his community, because he was emotionally abusive to his wife and to some people involved with Microcosm. While trying to understand and become accountable for his behavior, Joe was diagnosed with Asperger’s Syndrome, a high-functioning form of autism. People with Asperger’s have difficulty with empathy, which makes it hard for them to have healthy personal relationships.

Please Destroy My Enemies By Michael Sweater

This collection of comics by tattoo and comic artist Michael Sweater has me catching hints of Gary Larson’s The Far Side subversive cute animal absurdism, Matt Groening’s Life in Hell bone-dry deadpan, and bits of Bill Watterson’s Calvin and Hobbes pre-adult philosophical inquiry.

Prodigal Rogerson, The: The Tragic, Hilarious and Possibly Apocryphal Story of Circle Jerks Bassist Roger Rogerson in the Golden Age of LA Punk, 1979-1996, By J. Hunter Bennett

Bennett also presents never-before-published information about Rogerson’s short and mysterious military career and the source of much rumor, innuendo, and speculation, much of it fueled by Rogerson. A worthy footnote to an enigmatic career and a highly recommended read for both fans of the L.A. punk scene and Circle Jerks completists.

Bored Out By Ryan Leach

There are a lot of interviews here, including Kid Congo Powers, Jeffrey Evans, Eric Friedl, Dave Alvin, and more. Some of their bands are pretty impressive: the Oblivians, the Urinals, Weirdos, Blasters, and Modern Lovers. In addition to these interviews, there are oral histories of Gun Club and the Klits… Bored Out succeeds because Leach knows his shit.

Child of Storm, A By Michael J. Wilson

Wilson’s collection seems split aesthetically between material using Tesla and others from his era (Topsy the Elephant, Samuel Clemens, et cetera.) as a kind of allegorical vehicle, and then ones more internalized, personal, focused on nature, the natural world.

Fortress Europe (The Big Shiny Prison Volume 2) By Ryan Bartek

In 2006 and 2007 Ryan Bartek traveled across the U.S. in a journalistic quest to shine some light on the soft, white underbelly of the heavy metal underground, which resulted in his self-published PDF of his journey entitled The Big Shiny Prison. Fast-forward to 2011 and Bartek decided to return to the well, this time venturing across the pond to expose the metal/punk underground of Europe.

Generation Snow By Robert Wildwood

Robert Wildwood’s novel straddles a line between dystopian science fiction and fantasy. Set on a future earth, humankind has adapted, societally and geographically, to deal with the worldwide consequences of out-of-control global warming.

Indestructible: Growing Up Queer, Cuban, and Punk in Miami By Cristy C. Road

This short remembrance of Cristy Road’s formative adolescent years is a relatable and enjoyable read due to the basic human drives explored by the book.

King of Skid Row, The: John Bacich and the Twilight Years of Old Minneapolis By James Eli Shiffer

The Minneapolis band the Gateway District was named after the Minneapolis neighborhood that served as the city’s skid row from the late nineteenth century to the mid-twentieth century…. Those interested in Minneapolis history should particularly welcome the insights into municipal corruption and its confines.