Friday, August 14, 2009

Book in Review: Hairstyles of the Damned

Finished Joe Meno's Hairstyles of the Damned today in a rush. (Book #30 in the 52 Book Year.) I've had the book for several months and finally ran up against the deadline that it absolutely had to be returned to the library. Since I had liked the first part so much I knew I absolutely had to read to the end before I gave it up.

Set in 1991 Hairstyles of the Damned is a punk rock version of many of those movies about the 70s which depict how music defined what it was to be a teenager. It's not so much about how a mix tape can change your life but how much you really want that mix tape to change your life.

It was a little difficult for me to get into but Meno does some really lovely things with the voice and with the techniques he uses to tell the story. For example, there comes a point where you know that the protagonist has gotten his nose broken the day before but instead of giving us a play-by-play Meno writes the entire scene as if it's being rewound on a video tape. Awesome. Or as the narrator would tell us: fucking awesome.

Which brings me to the voice in this novel. It's narrated by a teenage boy and as such it's definitely not for people who are squimish around the word fuck. That said, it's an amazingly true to life narrative voice. I know that in a workshop someone would ask if all the swearing was necessary -- is it really adding anything to the piece? they would ask -- but it's so consistent and thorough, and it absolutely reminds me of the way I thought at a certain point in my life ... okay I still have a shitton of four letter words in my interior monologue but that's neither here nor there.

Sweet book.

Highly Recommended