Scam: The First Four Issues: By Erick Lyle By M.Avrg

Compiled in one easy-to-manage format, you get 288 pages of, as the title states, the first four issues of Scam zine. First issue came out in 1991. Reading it now, twenty years later, it’s obviously dated in some sections, but a good illustration of what the punk scene and some of the world was like. America is still in Iraq is the one thing that hasn’t really changed. The scams are a bit dated, but as Erick, aka Iggy, says in the introduction to this book, it’s not so much about scamming people, the scam is about figuring out how to live free. Throughout, you get first-person accounts of squatting, hitchhiking, train hopping, and playing punk shows, often in a not-too-receptive environment.

The stories of squatting and walking around various parts of Florida are interesting at first, but, after a while, they get tedious and the writing tends to get a little sappy. I do think Erick is a good writer when he’s telling it like it is, but when he over-idealizes things, his writing suffers. (Just read the story about going to jail in issue #2. Nothing cool or fun about being locked up.) But when he writes about Florida history, or when he writes about living in San Francisco, as in issue #4, then he’s at the top of his game. He definitely has a grasp for political writing and he writes about it in a very human way that anyone can relate to.

Treat this like a compilation CD. Instead of reading it like a regular book, read an issue then put it away for a while. Pick it up a while later, read another issue, and so forth. You’ll get more out of it that way. Will there be a collection of later issues of Scam? –M.Avrg (Microcosm, 222 S. Rogers St, Bloomington, IN 47404, microcosmpublising.com)