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Meat is Murder (33⅓ #5)

3.45  ·  Rating Details ·  461 Ratings  ·  55 Reviews
A Catholic high school near Boston in 1985. A time of suicides, gymnasium humiliations, smoking for beginners, asthma attacks, and incendiary teenage infatuations. Infatuations with a girl (Allison), with a band (The Smiths) and with an album, Meat is Murder, that was so raw, so vivid and so melodic that you could cling to it like a lifeboat in a storm. Excerpt One morning ...more
Paperback, 102 pages
Published September 1st 2003 by Continuum International Publishing Group (first published 2003)
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Mariel
Jan 31, 2013 Mariel rated it liked it
Recommends it for: the hills are alive with celibate crys
Recommended to Mariel by: I can't believe you'd ever care and so you'd never care
And even though I was doing my best to avoid them- not the other way around - it made me feel so lonely and out of place I stayed down by my shoes and cried. There were so many terrible things that could happen to them. Any number of ruinous events could nullify all of their best attempts. Break them apart like a saltine. Their family, with a combined age of thirty-five and some change, could tumble like a house of Christening thank-you cards. What made me most sad was that I doubted I'd ever ha ...more
Nicholai
Jun 04, 2011 Nicholai rated it really liked it
Let's talk about this book.
It isn't really about the Smiths album, which is good, cause I like to eat meat. It's more about this kid thats really into the Smiths album and how hes dorky and way to in touch with his feelings, and basically every other quality that 20 years later would become something women were actually attracted to.

The thing with this book is, its like 100 pages, and you really wont be disappointed. It's as simple as that, a story is told in 100 pages, it takes a short enough t
...more
Erik Swedlund
Jan 24, 2014 Erik Swedlund rated it really liked it
Recommended to Erik by: Brenna
Shelves: borrowed, fiction
The punk Bildungsroman is one of my favorite genres. Despite some occasional purple prose and head scratchers, this novel hits the sweet spot.
Jasmine
May 14, 2009 Jasmine rated it it was amazing
Shelves: american
That joke isn't funny anymore...

I give this book 4.5 stars. I mean it is good. It is the perfect length for what it is doing, it is a fast read, a couple of hours. It is suppose to be a representation of what it was like to grow up in the era of the smiths, but it felt more like what it is always like to grow up. It seems to be an attempt to deal with death, mainly suicide.

and from my reading the book truly ends up being about "the joke" which is perhaps a metaphor for many other things.
Glen Engel-Cox
Nov 24, 2014 Glen Engel-Cox rated it it was ok
I've been reading the Thirty-Three-and-a-Third series of books, which are like extended liner notes to albums for people who don't think the originals had enough liner notes to begin with. So far, the series has been hit and miss. Didn't care must for Dusty in Memphis, but the book about Love's Forever Changes and the Kink's The Kinks Are the Village Green Preservation Society really helped me have an appreciation for those two albums.

Unfortunately, Joe Pernice's book on The Smiths' album, Meat
...more
Paul Austin
Apr 07, 2008 Paul Austin rated it really liked it
First impression: no other book in the 33 1/3 series is going to top this. Joe Pernice has completely thrown aside the notion of dissecting the songs, and instead written a hundred page piece of fiction inspired by Meat is Murder, the album that the book is ostensibly about. And, truthfully, said piece of fiction is so good I don’t even feel worthy of telling you how good it is, much less pound the typer discussing it at length. This has become a book I’ve recommended to many, and when they prot ...more
Patrick Sprunger
Jan 10, 2013 Patrick Sprunger rated it it was ok
Shelves: fiction, read-in-2013
Joe Perniece's impression of Meat Is Murder is somewhere between Jonathan Lethem's Fortress of Solitude and a version of The Wonder Years set in the John Hughes universe. It's a pretty narrow tale of a standard issue, suburban white heterosexual teenage American sexual quest. Which is disappointing considering this was supposedly penned in contemplation of a thing as nuanced, androgynous, and confused as The Smiths.

In the amount of time it takes to read the novella one could have, instead, list
...more
Patrick McCoy
Sep 26, 2011 Patrick McCoy rated it really liked it
I found out about the Continuum Books 331/3 series from reading Nick Hornby’s Polysyballic Spree, and he had particular praise for Meat Is Murder by Joe Pernice. I’ll definitely have to read some of the other selections after having read this fine novella based on The Smith's 1985 masterpiece Meat Is Murder, which has my favorite Smiths song of all-time ("How Soon Is Now"), it is the only selection that is fiction, and the others are essays. Anyway, Joe Pernice is the lead singer/songwriter of ...more
Mark
Sep 25, 2009 Mark rated it it was amazing
In the mid-1980's music collecting was a hard job. There was no internet, of course, and the radio couldn't be depended on and music television was lame. If you weren't into Billy Ocean or Billy Joel then you had no environment to lean on. Smiths fans in the U.S. all had this in common, we all had to search high and low for an obscure release here and there, and then quickly network with like-minded friends and swap. Joe Pernice captures and chronicles the plight and obsession we all made part ...more
Trin
Aug 21, 2008 Trin rated it it was ok
Part of the 33 1/3 series, which involves writers exploring favorite albums at great depth, Pernice’s effort was at the time of its writing (and, I believe, still is) the only entry that’s fiction. However, that’s the only way in which it is unique. This is a very, very average coming of age story; the protagonist is almost exactly like every other teenage protagonist who can’t get laid and who thinks his privileged white suburban life is omg so hard—the only thing different about him, I guess, ...more
Peter
Jan 17, 2016 Peter rated it liked it
I love the idea of interspersing novels in the 33 1/3 series, and I could certainly relate to the shy, asthmatic teen, even if I don't share his love for The Smiths. The writing is a bit uneven, with captivating passages on one page offset with formulaic stuff on the next, but I was also hooked from the beginning, and finished reading quickly.

The biggest problem for me was how unfinished it felt. It's like Pernice circled around the main story without ever diving in. I could have used a lot les
...more
Margot
Sep 01, 2013 Margot rated it liked it
Entertaining enough novella with a sort of conceptual Meat is Murder soundtrack. Reminded me (in good ways) of mid-century British coming of age novels like Graham Greene's Brighton Rock, Colin MacInness' Absolute Beginners. Maybe lower middle-class suburban Boston in the 80s wasn't so different from working-class England in the 30s-50s, or maybe the humiliations and anxieties and joys of adolescence have been pretty much the same in most of the developed world for most of the 20th century. ...more
Niklas Pivic
Oct 02, 2009 Niklas Pivic rated it liked it
Shelves: prose, music, 33, 1-3, english, the, smiths
This book was quite dense in the way that it felt to me as if Joe Pernice really tried to squeeze every last odd word from the dictionary and make every character very eccentric. E.g. "Paul's cough sounded much more productive and serious than my own because it was."

A good thing about the book is that he didn't use The Smiths/Morrissey too much; of course he referred to lyrics but not that often. Nor did he over-use references to the album, which was nice.

All in all, a nice, romantic read about
...more
Ryan Connors
Mar 04, 2016 Ryan Connors rated it really liked it
After reading Pernice's "It Feels So Good When I Stop" a few months ago I was hooked on his outrageously truthful pen. I take into account a lot of what he has to say in my own work, especially when it comes to character dialogue.
This novella left me uneasy, for the right reasons. To be able to invoke such emotions from a reader in just over a hundred pages is a gift. Also, he writes about places around me so I feel even more connected to the world of his stories.
In short, this piece gave me e
...more
Brian
Aug 04, 2008 Brian rated it did not like it
This was the first 33 1/3 book I ever picked up. I wasn't pleased with it. I chose it 'cause at the time, I was a casual Smiths fan, and was into Joe Pernice. From what I had heard of the series of books, I expected something more like Franklin Bruno's dissection of Armed Forces.

Well, it ain't that. It's a novella in which hardly anything happens, and he tries for some kind of nostalgia or poignancy that, for my money, he never hits. I don't even feel like there's a tonal connection between the
...more
Rebekah
Aug 02, 2009 Rebekah rated it it was ok
Shelves: fiction
Was a let down. I expected some perspective into the 'Meat is Murder' album and instead got a fictional story about some high school guy who becomes a fan of the album. I did enjoy some aspects of the story, but it simply was not what I had been anticipating in the years that I waited to read this book. Side Note: It was odd to me that the story contained a few of the lyrics from "Back to the Old House", a song that wasn't even on the 'Meat is Murder' album. Still a nice touch, however, as that ...more
Joshua
Aug 22, 2007 Joshua rated it did not like it
Recommends it for: no-one
I'm callling bullshit on this one. Why would I want to read a fictional account that involves a Smiths album (of all things). Oh, and it's written by a failed musican...wow, cool. Yeah, NO. When I buy 33 1/3 books I want facts, stories, tid bits, and the "behind the scenes" look about a seminal album. This was not that...far from it...and bullshit. Of course crazy Smith's fans probably love it, but crazy Smiths fans used to camp outside of Moz's house in LA until he finally got fed up and moved ...more
Damon
Jan 22, 2009 Damon rated it really liked it
Shelves: advisory-2008-09
I'm very on and off with what I think of The Smiths- Morrissey is a really depressing guy and the book did not give me a different image of him, just added on to what I already thought- But well written!

What was nice about the writing in this one was the use of Joe Pernice's personal experience and relation to this album- it was raw, it felt really honest and it was like learning about some guy I don't really know about as well as The Smiths at the same time. Good honest work.
Neal
Apr 10, 2012 Neal rated it really liked it
This was one of the first of the 33 1/3 book series that was fiction. Being a fan of Pernice's music (Scud Mountain Boys/Pernice Brothers) when I saw this at a half priced books I HAD to buy it. It's a very short read about a guy going back home to Massachusetts (go figure) and him remembering being in high school and the memory of hearing The Smiths "Meat is Murder" for the first time and a string of deaths of his classmates and first loves. It was a quick and very good read all in all.
Thom Slattery
Jul 31, 2015 Thom Slattery rated it really liked it
Shelves: library, music
A very different take on the idea of the 33 1/3 series. Instead of writing directly about "Meat Is Murder," Joe Pernice put together a wonderful piece of post-punk, adolescent romance. This is not the story of an album, it's the story of the people who obsessed over an album. And with a band like The Smiths, I can't help but feel like that's a better story to read than the power grabs of Morrissey and Marr.
Joshua Bohnsack
Jul 07, 2016 Joshua Bohnsack rated it really liked it
I wanted to give this five, but there were too many loose ends. I loved Pernice's take on the 33 1/3 series. It was a wonderful narrative, despite the usual analytical breakdowns of the albums in this series. The whole story vaguely reflects "I Want the One I Can't Have," so I'm happy to let the real lack of The Smiths' presence slide. Very intimate, I just want to have the last quarter of the book.
C.J.
Dec 10, 2008 C.J. rated it it was amazing
Where most of the 33 1/3 books are historical/musicological looks at the album and the the people involved with it. Meat is Murder is actually a fictional novella loosely based in the mid-80's and centering around the album. The narrative character describes his school and personal experiences in a way that I could more than identify with, given that I too went through high school in that same time period.
Nathan
Apr 30, 2008 Nathan rated it really liked it
Recommends it for: Meat Eaters
Shelves: 33-1-3-series
First off, I love Joe Pernice, but I owe most of this to his career as primary songwriter for the Pernice Brothers. NOW, concerning this novel, it reminded me that everyone has a story about their favorite story about their favorite record. It made me want to go listen to Wish by the Cure over and over again, just like I did in 6th Grade.
Zachary Martin
Jun 14, 2012 Zachary Martin rated it liked it
If your looking for info on the Smiths or the making of this album, this is not the book for you. That said, it would be impossible for me to not like this since I love the album and grew up about 45 mins from where this story takes place. It's a bit of a mess narrative wise but still sums up being 16 excellently... at least my 16.
Chris
Nov 07, 2014 Chris rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: listened
As a fan of The Smiths, the title intrigued me. I could relate somewhat with main character. I embraced the New Wave music as it was introduced to my rural upbringing, but never being brave or stupid enough to truly accept all that meant I was never the depressed or depressing youth he was. A good quick walk down memory lane.
Patty
Nov 08, 2008 Patty rated it really liked it
Not what I was expecting, after having just read Court and Spark. But I love love love Joe Pernice for his lyrics, so it was a real treat to read a piece of fiction he had written. I loved his style, and the way he portrayed the high school experience. There wasn't quite as much about the Smiths album in there as I thought there'd be, but it worked for me.
Kelli
Jun 19, 2009 Kelli rated it liked it
This was a gift from someone who knows I enjoy music by the Smiths. Very well written and engaging work of fiction. The Thirty Three and a Third series is composed of books that claim to be an extension of album liners. This book was different in that it was a work of fiction with the album worked into the story.
Kathleen
Jun 20, 2010 Kathleen rated it did not like it
Probably better to just listen to the album again. Joe Pernice revisits his adolescence and manages to make interesting events (some suicides, a crush) aggressively banal. This is the worst book I've read all year.
Caitlin
Sep 12, 2010 Caitlin rated it it was ok
Entering my obsession stage of The Smiths. Rogan's biography, "The Severed Alliance" was so meticulous, and the group's music so meaningful to me that I went crazy reading about them until I burned myself out. They are still one of my favorite bands though.
Gary Lee
Mar 20, 2008 Gary Lee rated it did not like it
A really horrible novella placing the Smiths' album in the center of a worse-than-generic coming of age story.

If you want good Smiths-related fiction, check out Mark Spitz's How Soon is Never .
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Rock and Roll Hal...: Meat is Murder as a Novella 2 10 Nov 18, 2014 07:32PM  
  • Led Zeppelin IV
  • Music from Big Pink
  • Unknown Pleasures
  • The Stone Roses
  • Harvest
  • Murmur
  • The Pixies' Doolittle
  • The Piper at the Gates of Dawn
  • Live at the Apollo
  • Exile on Main St.
  • Grace
  • Pet Sounds
  • Let it Be
  • Ramones
  • The Kinks are the Village Green Preservation Society
  • The Velvet Underground & Nico
  • Bee Thousand
  • Swordfishtrombones

Other Books in the Series

33⅓ (1 - 10 of 115 books)
  • Dusty in Memphis
  • Forever Changes
  • Harvest
  • The Kinks are the Village Green Preservation Society
  • The Piper at the Gates of Dawn
  • Abba Gold
  • Electric Ladyland
  • Unknown Pleasures
  • Sign o' the Times
  • The Velvet Underground & Nico

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