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Burn Collector: Collected Stories from One Through Nine

4.28  ·  Rating Details  ·  528 Ratings  ·  45 Reviews

A compilation of the first nine issues of the author’s sporadically published and widely acclaimed personal zine, this volume reflects the do-it-yourself attitude of the 1990s punk music scene and includes humorous anecdotes, philosophical musings, andnuanced descriptions of odd locales and curious characters, all of which were taken mostly from outside of the punk milieu.

Paperback, 280 pages
Published March 28th 2000 by Buddy System (first published March 2000)
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A Masque of Infamy by Kelly DessaintNick & Norah's Infinite Playlist by Rachel CohnHairstyles of the Damned by Joe MenoDouble Duce by Aaron CometbusBurn Collector by Al Burian
punk rock novels
4th out of 46 books — 41 voters
Into Thin Air by Jon KrakauerSteve Jobs by Walter IsaacsonA Walk in the Woods by Bill BrysonIn Cold Blood by Truman CapoteThe Hot Zone by Richard   Preston
Nonfiction pageturners
88th out of 153 books — 41 voters

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Community Reviews

(showing 1-30 of 821)
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Aug 18, 2007 gaby rated it liked it
Recommends it for: boys
Shelves: memoir
As I read this collection of shorter zines, I kept thinking a couple things.

First, I kept Cometbus in mind, comparing the two zinesters. Both share an extreme loyalty, affiliation and alligance to particular physical locations - Cometbus to Berkeley; Al Burian to Portland. The two share some basic ideas about society, DIY ethics, punk rock, and self-imposed poverty. Both are from middle class families (perhaps both with academic fathers? Not sure about Cometbus). But there are some marked diffe
Jul 15, 2011 Maureen rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: zinesters, punks, anarchists, atheists, philosophers, travelers
Al Burian will always remind me of the dark charm of certain cities- cities no one really wants to live in all that much. Providence, Cleveland, New Jersey. Jobs no one really wants to work- the late shift at Kinkos, the loading dock off truck yard, tying fliers for a shitty deli to fence posts. He writes about these types of places and situations with a dark humor and reverence, an observer and reluctant member of the spurned working class. Yet somehow, Al Burian does not make excuses, perhaps ...more
William Strasse
Mar 08, 2013 William Strasse rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
What can I say? The fucker is brilliant and funny. This book (as well as "Natural Disaster", which is a continuation of the Burn Collector material) is another one I've been reading lately that frightens me with how much it resonates. I think there's a little Burian in all of us, but mine has been acting up something fierce lately...that is, before I started reading these books and now especially after reading them. It's very hard to say anything about Burian's writing without resorting to clich ...more
Aug 11, 2008 Rachael rated it it was amazing
the only book i've reviewed so far.

al is an acquaintance, so i'm probably biased, but i love this book.

i buy copies of it to leave with friends who inspire me.

i'm always excited when i see copies of it are selling for inordinately high prices on amazon.

he's the kind of person we can all relate to. read his stories, and you to can relate and understand where he is coming from. everyone can, cause he's writing about life.

he lives. he writes. he is.

be it embarrassing, be it proud, he still puts i
Jan 30, 2008 Maureen rated it it was amazing
Recommends it for: Zine lovers! Punk rockers! Revolutionaries!
Recommended to Maureen by: Bob Clark
This book was recommended to me by a fellow Cometbus lover, so I couldn't help but compare. Al reminds me of Cometbus only because of his love for punk rock and the hobo/crust punk lifestyle, but their personalities are so completely different. It was strange reading all 9 zines at once... I felt like I should have put some time between them, let each one simmer a little, like I cheated by consuming each one in succession. Al made me laugh out loud at times, with his ridiculous assumptions and o ...more
Sep 19, 2007 Jon rated it it was amazing
Recommends it for: people who are curious about zines
Al Burian is my favorite living writer. I see his outlook on life as being dead on while still managing to be hilarious (laugh out loud funny). His writing is insightful and profound while somehow still coming across casually. He has a great sense of narrative and is able to translate his real life experiences into highly entertaining writing, which is quite difficult to do (read 90% of the other 'zines out there). This collection starts out a bit rough but gets better as it goes along. At the b ...more
Margaret Adams
Picked up a loaned copy of this collection from my friend Nathan while in Colorado. I realize this is a bit of a zeitgeist that I'm picking up two decades too late, per usual, but I don't care, I unabashedly love this and I'm so glad someone printed it, not to validate it, but because it's increased the chances that this will continue to survive in hard copy form and people will keep reading it. I thought the quality of the work got better and better as the author went. Hoping to find more of th ...more
Dec 04, 2012 Jim rated it it was amazing
Having read and enjoyed of the more recent issues of Burn Collector, I sort of knew what I was getting into with this collection. That said, I was pleasantly surprised by how good the early issues of this zine were. Granted, this is a collection that seems to cherry pick the best of the best, but that's exactly what I want. There's very little filler in this collection and enough variety in the form of each issue to keep me interested.

There are definitely times when it gets repetitive in theme
Chris Jones
Feb 03, 2015 Chris Jones rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Burn Collector is the quintessential personal zine. Most of the work that is put out by the zine community is petulant, narcissistic, redundant, or obnoxious by any other reason. But Al Burian in this collection remains relatable, very funny, very smart, and very stylish. I think he could be considered something of a trail blazer in the genre, and as a result the work remains fresh as a literary snapshot of 90's Americana. This is ESSENTIAL reading for anyone into the zine genre or in general is ...more
Feb 08, 2014 Trace rated it it was amazing
Mar 27, 2015 Laura rated it it was amazing
Jun 01, 2008 Karly rated it really liked it
Al Burian is just fantastic. He's super honest and easy to relate to and his thoughts are always really interesting. I've seen him perform, which is even better than reading his stuff.

His books are full of (mostly) real-life experiences and adventures. He does readings all over, picks up and moves on a pretty regular basis, tours with his bands (Milemarker and... the name of the other is escaping me at the moment), and drinks too much coffee.
May 02, 2011 Mike rated it it was amazing
This is seriously the book that got me through being an angst-ridden teenager. Burn Collector sure won't make you feel any better about your life, but it will leave you with a strange sense of calm in the face of a screwed up world. Al's writing is like the quiet voice in the back of your head at your darkest hours telling you not to worry, cause at the end of day, we're all in this shit together. Absolutely recommended.
Liesl W
Apr 17, 2008 Liesl W rated it it was amazing
Al Burian, will you please marry me? You're the only "zine" writer since I was a teenager that I've written fan mail to. And it came back to me undeliverable. So sad. Anyway, I'll be nice to you and bake things for you and you can write me love notes occasionally that will both break my heart and fill me with joy and hope, just like your zines do.
Jun 28, 2011 Cnadeau rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Reading these pages a decade and a half after they were first written, I realized I pine for this level of self expression and honesty from my own generation. Al's constant hitting the nail on the head of the confused state of contemporary living make me feel like I'm connected by proxy to these thoughts and insights. An amazing collection.
Jul 26, 2007 Ledena rated it it was amazing
Recommends it for: People who read punk planet.
I ended up with this book after h.r. tried to sell it at our "garage sale" where everyone showed up way before we had stuff out on the lawn and all of the older shoppers mocked our high prices. But anyway, I really like Al Burian's writing, and still pick up punk planets and flip to the columns first to see if he has anything in the issue.
Jan 16, 2008 Ian rated it it was amazing
One of the few books that I've re-read more than twice and still succeeds in making me love it every time.

Al literally just spends each section (originally published as individual 'zines) telling the story of part of his life. One section is a comic, one is about him and his brother wandering around Berlin and going to discos.
Dec 07, 2008 Lacey rated it really liked it
Ah nostalgia... I used to read Al Burian's column in Punk Planet, though I have to admit was not with-it enough to also read Burn Collector in it's time. Now it kind of makes me feel old. I literally found myself thinking, "Oh just stop whining and get a job like everyone else." Ugh, adulthood.
Ethan Camp
Sep 09, 2008 Ethan Camp rated it it was amazing
Al Burian really speaks to me. In "Burn Collector," what would otherwise be a cliche mess of greyhound trips, basement shows, and drinking far too much coffee turns out to be quite wonderful thanks to Burian's literary talent. This book is a great introduction to Al Burian.
Sep 21, 2007 Erica rated it it was amazing
Recommends it for: Chicago people, indie musicians, bums
I'm down with Al's music and writing. He's sort of a modern-day Jack Kerouac in terms of his zest for traveling on a shoestring budget and introspective way of writing about it. Must-read for people who like travel adventure stories, Midwest-core, indie rock, gutter punk, blah!
Feb 08, 2014 Rae rated it really liked it
the only reason i give this 4 stars instead of 5 is because there's a copious use of "retard/ed" throughout the book that i find difficult to reward. in all other aspects, burn collector is a favorite zine & being able to read nine issues at once is quite satisfying.
Sep 15, 2007 Brendan rated it really liked it
Recommends it for: punks, diy, cynics,
an anthology of a really strong zine that al still publishes. it's very cynical and pessimistic but always hard to put down. it's not totally negative but points out the weirdness of contemporary life with a ton of humor. one of the funniest things i've ever read.
Christina Peck
Apr 05, 2009 Christina Peck rated it it was amazing
Awesome. He has totally worked out his self-deprecating, traveler, punk style without being contrived or imitative. Easy to pick up for individual stories or engaging to continue reading as a whole, as I have many times.
Sep 06, 2012 Sara rated it it was amazing
Love it. :) Really excellent writing and printing, interspersed with some drawings/photos. Especially if you have any ties to Oregon, Germany or North Carolina, you will find this interesting.
Dec 31, 2008 Arj rated it it was amazing
hilarious book. offers insight from a "freegan" as described its coming from a guy who basically hates working and gives funny out takes on regular day to day situations in life
Feb 28, 2008 Don rated it really liked it
Recommends it for: the burned out former gen-x punk
Now this zine is fucking phenomenal. My friend Jeremy tried to hold a conversation with him recently in Austin, and said he was a bullshit rockstar.

Good writer though.
Dec 30, 2007 Shanna rated it it was amazing
Recommends it for: other transient-feeling, aimless college graduates tredging through temporary employment
Shelves: zines, biosmemoirs
I don't think I would love this as much during any other part of my life, but right now it's near perfection.
So much better than Cometbus.
Dec 01, 2013 Eric rated it really liked it
Read most of these as individual issues of burn collector back in the day. Really great stuff. Burian is an EXCELLENT writer. Recommended!
Ben Jaques
Jul 02, 2012 Ben Jaques rated it it was amazing
Fuckin' Burn Collector. Al Burian has always seemed to be the David Sedaris of punk rock. This book is hilarious and emo.
Oct 02, 2007 Mike rated it it was amazing
Best writing I have ever encountered. He's able to take life and make it seem depressing and wonderful at the same time.
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