Banned for Life: By D.R. Hanley, 405pgs. By Billups Allen

Nov 24, 2009

Jason Maddox is a punk rocker whose moderate success as a writer and screen director never eclipses his obsession with Jim Cassady, a sort of Jim Carroll, poet type of old school punker. Cassady fronted the band Rule Of Thumb, Jason’s ideal pet punk band and a street legend of Cassady’s struggle with reclusiveness and homelessness keeps Maddox searching for news of whereabouts regarding his hero. Banned for Life is a first person narrative of a fictional writer chasing his idol over decades of coping with life as a creative type perpetually in and out of luck. Hanley’s strength as a writer is in capturing the tone of discovering punk rock and having it stick with you over the years when others have let it fall to the curb. The book captures nostalgia nicely, without whining about the good old days. The distance Hanley achieves by investing his experiences into a fictional character makes the story stronger; not being bogged down with history or excessive attitude allows a more than casual punk rock fan to get lost in the story without distraction. Maddox as a character is not always likeable, but honest and worth rooting for, as he discovers his first albums, sees his first shows, meets the only other person in a small community who shares his interests, deals with the pros and cons of meeting heroes, and, of course, has relationship issues. Hanley has a strong voice and Banned for Life is a relatable read for anyone who has been involved in artistic endeavors. While it probably resonates best with punk rockers, this book reaches across the punk divide

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