As someone who has written about mental health and also has a background in the punk scene, this book of twenty stories about mental health, substance use, and punk rock is right up my alley. At first I was concerned because the editor’s introduction meandered and the first chapter could’ve used a heavier editing hand as it, too, missed an opportunity to pack a punch in a tale of substance use and aimless wandering. However, further stories did a fine job showcasing the experiences of punks from all over the world. Chapters were written by people who live everywhere from Vermont to South America and all over Europe. The diversity of the individuals makes for a stronger work—showing that punk and mental illness are universal and that many of us can relate to both no matter where we live.
The range of content varied in You’re Crazy, Volume II. Some stories were just a couple pages, while others went on for ten or more. Most of the content was a punk sharing their history chronologically, sometimes starting with their childhood and through the present day. Not all the writers were fully recovered from substance use or felt they were in a solid place mentally. Allowing people to share their stories no matter their condition made the writing more authentic, however.
The quality of the content runs the gamut over these 134 pages. Some of it is incredibly engaging and well-written. Other times it’s choppy and hard to follow. I tended to skim those chapters if they didn’t draw me in. The tales shared by some writers are hilarious or sad but they’re always personal and real. There’s a rawness in the way the stories are written and it gives off a legitimacy and urgency that seems lacking in many punk rock memoirs. While the editing, at times, could’ve been a little tighter, it’s certainly better than about ninety percent of what I get to review.
Is this the best compilation of punk stories? No. But it’s important and overall well-told, to which I give the editor and authors credit. And most importantly it’s a reminder that if you’re dealing with substance use and/or mental illness, you’re not alone. –Kurt Morris (sanityisafulltimejob.org)