No Apocalypse By Al Burian, 192 pgs.

May 28, 2019

I love Al Burian. He is hands-down my favorite living author today, and certainly one of my favorite authors of all time. His take on punk culture is laced with existential despair and matter-of-fact commentary. This is all done in a dry manner, but which often comes across as hilarious.

Thus it shouldn’t come as a surprise that I loved No Apocalypse. The book is comprised of his columns from Punk Planet, HeartattaCk, and the Skeleton. I read some of these writings in Punk Planet, but it’s been a long time since then, and it was refreshing to come across them again. The Punk Planet columns take up the predominant amount of space in the book.

Burian’s writing is, for the most part, consistent in its take on what it’s like to be a slacker in the late ’90s and early ’00s. There are a lot words spent not just on music and Burian’s adventures, but also on President George W. Bush, who was in office during the time when many of these pieces were written. In hindsight, it’s almost comical how we thought Bush was the worst President ever, although all things considered, at least Donald Trump hasn’t sent thousands of soldiers overseas to kill thousands of people unconnected to terrorism, all based on a lie. Still, the similarities of how bad politics can get is appropriate for our current state of affairs.

What gets me most about No Apocalypse is how insightful it is. His comments on how it can feel strangely freeing when one loses their parents are something about which I hadn’t given any thought yet makes sense. He also has his tales of riding the Greyhound, a line of his writing of which I never tire. His looks at this particular slice of Americana who ride the ’hound makes me smile and laugh. Burian’s literary flair comes out most striking in these situations. He keeps the reader on edge wondering if an oddly paired couple will make it back to the bus in time from their rest stop. It seems strange, but I was fully engaged.

Al Burian is a slacker, a very unsympathetic antihero, and in some ways, a loser. He can’t seem to get beyond being his own worst enemy at times (as shown with his experience putting his foot in his mouth in court). Yet he somehow writes in such a way as to counter those detrimental qualities to make himself easily relatable and one of punk’s most talented literary figures of the past few decades. –Kurt Morris (Microcosm Publishing, 2752 N. Williams Ave., Portland, OR 97227)