by Sara Crowley
This "is an anthology of short stories inspired by punk" written by 32
contributors and including a forward from Johnny Marr. £1 from each
copy sold will be donated to the Teenage Cancer Trust. It's the
proverbial mixed bag as short fiction is placed alongside passages that
read as biography, fictionalised memoir and one straightforward essay.
The stories vary widely in quality, though many share the same
nostalgic look back at youth. There is punked up hair, chains,
piercings, make-up, sex, scowls, drugs, booze, violence, love, and
vomit, always against a backdrop of music.
Several of the stories deal with
the death and/or loss of someone loved. When each of us looks at our
own memories this is what stands large and remains vivid. Because of
the similar vibe in many of the stories it is those that surprised that
were the highlights of the collection for me. Rather than comment on
each story I have picked out some of my favourites:
Lane Ashfeldt's California Über Alles
is a coming of age story set in a German disused chocolate factory. The
Irish narrator is squatting in Kohl for the summer, and feeling hungry
eats a stale bar of chocolate. Ashfeldt places us right there as she
slides us back and forth in time explaining: "You don't yet know that,
come midsummer…" "You don't yet know that the boy with the badly dyed
blond hair…" ,making the past become the present. It is skilfully done,
and the story is packed with emotion, yearning, and even
Editor Janine Bullman whisks us
back to the U.K. and lost love in Safety Pin in my Heart: "…after
all isn't this the British way, a Saturday night spent looking for
meaning in the bottom of a glass?" Time's Up by Laura
a moment in a young man's life where waiting for his girlfriend in her
parents' lounge he fizzes with frustration and irritation. It's a story
of youthful hope and impotence.
Kate Pullinger creates an
interesting middle-aged couple who recall the
anger of Public Image Limited when stuck at a dull dinner party. It's a
witty story, and Richard and Ruth are great characters.
PiL also provide the soundtrack to
the terrific Peter Wild story: Fodderstompf. His
narrator was in the midst of the punk explosion. "I
was no one. Or rather I wasn't anyone. I wasn't anyone when everyone
was someone." Set in Manchester in 1977 this is a bitterly funny tale
of a guy who "…was a punk by accident. I went along to everything and
hated everything and was told time and time again how fucking punk that
was." Brilliant! "So I stood next to some people who turned out to be
people. So I was there. I was there, man. But I wasn't there. I didn't
feel it like those kids felt it. I didn't get it." I could quote the
story in its entirety actually, it is all good!
Billy Bragg writes a neat essay on
the DIY ethos that meant punk
inspired anyone to have a go. Be an artist, a musician, a writer, a
designer, be who you can be. It's a message that remains relevant. In
reading these stories I was struck by how punk was a call to creativity
over apathy, but as always, some preferred to just get wasted.
Read a story
from this collection in the Independent
Crowley has had fiction published by
Pulp.Net, 3:AM, elimae, flashquake, Litro, Cella's Round Trip,
Dogmatika, Red Peter, Better Non Sequitur, and a variety of other
lovely places. “Salted”, her novel in progress, was shortlisted for the
Faber Not Yet Published Award.
Editor bio: Janine Bullman is currently
studying for an MA in Creative Writing and has spent the last ten years
working as press officer to pop stars. She currently lives in East
London with her husband and nutty cat. She also writes for Mojo and Record Collector
this book (used or
Publisher's Website: Portico
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