Book Reviews

Perfume Burned His Eyes, The, By Michael Imperioli, 259 pgs.

I never thought I’d write a book review in Razorcake for Sopranos’ actor Michael Imperioli. Then again, I never thought Imperioli would write a novel about Lou Reed and one of my favorite periods of history: 1970s New York City. There’s something about the grit and the dirty nature of the city during that decade […]

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Sid and the Sickos By Abby Kacen, 98 pgs.

A low-key tale of a few friends and acquaintances hanging out in 2020 during the global pandemic. All the main characters are represented by non-human creatures (i.e.: Martian, ghost, skeleton, and bat) in Dogwood City where all the non-mains look like boring normal people. The fact these ghastly creatures are roaming the streets is never […]

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Until the Red Swallows It All By Mason Parker, 178 pgs.

Mason Parker’s debut book is a series of short stories and vignettes that correspond to experiences and tales influenced by his youth in Oklahoma. The Sooner state is somewhere I’ve only been once, when I was a roadie for a band back in the ’00s. Therefore, I can’t say exactly how much these stories read […]

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Unstrung: Rants and Stories of a Noise Guitarist By Marc Ribot, 216 pgs.

Session guitarist Marc Ribot is known for his work with Tom Waits, Elvis Costello, John Zorn, and many other musicians, including those in the jazz and Latin scenes. Despite his long career, there’s something that causes me to pause when I read a subtitle that includes “Rants and Stories” because I wonder, “Is this going […]

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You’re with Stupid: kranky, Chicago and the Reinvention of Indie Music By Bruce Adams, 264 pgs.

I read books like this to learn about stuff I didn’t know before. And there was a lot for me to learn about kranky (intentional lowercase). The Chicago label was founded by Bruce Adams, the author of this book, to mine this particular, kinda ethereal vein of indie rock, equal parts lo-fi and Krautrock. I […]

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Anarchy at the Circle K By Patrick O’Neil, 259 pgs.

Patrick O’Neil isn’t fucking around.  His memoir about his stint as a road manger and roadie for punk legends Dead Kennedys, T.S.O.L., Flipper, and Subhumans is an epic account of stamina, sleeplessness, and bad decision making. O’Neil skips the usual palaver about these stories being his memories and other accounts may differ with an uncompromising […]

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Bipolar Cowboy By Noah Cicero, 98 pgs.

A friend from back home in Ohio mailed me a different book by Noah Cicero called Blood-Soaked Buddha. I didn’t know who it was from at first, and to be honest, I did roll my eyes at the quote on the back that read: “What if you had to live for eternity with your current […]

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Book of Extraordinary Tragedies By Joe Meno, 352 pgs.

Book of Extraordinary Tragedies takes place in Chicago in 2008 and is the story of an Eastern European family. Twenty-year-old Aleks and his slightly older sister, Isobel, are the main characters, but the book also involves their ill mother, their secretly gay cousin, Isobel’s daughter who is losing her hearing, the absent father, the darkly […]

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A Childhoood—The Biography of a Place By Harry Crews, 176 pgs.

Harry Crews is the writer whose name Kim Gordon, Lydia Lunch, and Sadie Mae used to name their band, Harry Crews. (They also used the title of his novel Naked in Garden Hills for the title of their one album.) Many critics and reporters called him a cult writer—he died in 2012—and this year, Penguin […]

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Liarmouth: A Feel-Bad Romance By John Waters, 256 pgs.

Marsha Sprinkle’s hatred knows no boundaries. The woman hates her own daughter, for Christ’s sake, simply for being born of Marsha’s body. She hates her mother. She hates her father. Marsha’s life of petty crime has afforded her a somewhat lavish lifestyle from which she can look down and spit upon the unwashed masses, and […]

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Liars Club By Patrick Houdek, 64 pgs.

Upfront disclaimer: I’ve known Patrick for more nigh on four decades—we went to grade school together, his old fanzine Thrasher’s Digest was one of the first zines I wrote for, and his cassette label, P&S Productions, released the only legit recordings by my old band Butt Acne on a split tape and one or two […]

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Plus 1 Atlanta: Concert Ephemera from a Storied Metropolis 1962-2003 Edited by Henry Owings, 215 pgs.

A few months back, I was dazzled by Plus 1 Athens, thee Henry Owings of Chunklet’s first installment in what has gone on to be a continuing series dedicated to show flyers from specific towns. Here, Henry ups the already considerable ante in Plus 1 Atlanta, sifting through fifty years (!) of show flyers, ticket […]

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