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Hairstyles of the Damned
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Hairstyles of the Damned

3.72  ·  Rating Details ·  4,937 Ratings  ·  446 Reviews

Brian Oswald is an oddly endearing, conflicted Chicago high school student, obsessed with hard rock and his best friend, a pink-haired punk named Gretchen. Brian frets over his attraction to Gretchen; after all, she's overweight, belligerent, and prone to fistfights. Like all teenagers, Brian struggles with his identity. A bit of an outcast, he uses this condition to asses
ebook, 278 pages
Published September 1st 2004 by Akashic Books (first published January 1st 2004)
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"Hairstyles of the Damned" is about Brian Oswald, a guy in high school who is growing up punk. At first he's a sort of needy and whiny character who is in love with his best friend, but as time passes in his harsh high school he must learn to be tough and act like a punk. He meets people, does drugs, listen to cool punk music, and gets a girlfriend or two along the way.

Um, yeah. I kinda strongly disliked this book, :/. I mean it wasn't the worst thing ever but I felt like I could have just used
Jason Pettus
(My full review of this book is much longer than GoodReads' word-count limits. Find the entire essay at the Chicago Center for Literature and Photography [].)

So a big confession before anything else -- that I went into this book really wanting to like author Joe Meno. And of course part of why I want to like him is because he's a Chicago writer, one of the more high-profile writers in Chicago right now in fact, who has won the prestigious Nelson Algren award in the past and who us
Aug 16, 2015 Tfitoby rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: lit, young-adult
I really enjoyed Meno's Boy Detective Fails to the point where I couldn't imagine that a book about growing up as an awkward punk in Chicago in 1990 would actually be a young adult novel. Turns out it is, demonstrating a lot of the simple moralising that exemplifies the way adults write for teenagers in todays book market. Meh. There's a lot of great observations that took me back to that time in my life when I was an awkward teenage punk in England but really, what's here for an adult? At times ...more
Earlier this year, I decided to stop buying books. Instead, I would check them out of the library and only buy copies of the ones I really loved. But this book and its intriguing title made me break that rule. I read the Amazon excerpt and really thought I would like it, but the library didn’t carry it. So… I went to Barnes & Noble and read even more of it. I liked the beginning so much that I had visions of it becoming My New Favorite Thing. I decided to take a chance and buy it.

I paid goo
Jan 12, 2009 Laura rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Any book that assaults your dad with Misfits lyrics and pranks the school bully with photos of kitty cats with X's on their eyes and pleas to be kind because "everytime you're mean one of us dies" is pretty much one of the greatest punk high school kid coming of age stories ever.... "I ain't no Goddamn son of a bitch!"
"We're not the first, I hope we're not the last. 'Cause I know we're all heading for that adult crash. The time is so little, the time belongs to us. Why is everybody in such a fucking rush?
Make do with what you have. Take what you can get. Pay no mind to us. We're just a minor threat. We're just a minor threat.

Ahh.. sweet memories of stomping around my room raging (as loud as a 15 year old can rage in suburbia without upsetting the ‘rents) Good times. Good times.

Joe Meno has got it down. He’s i
Oct 08, 2012 Oriana rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: read-2012
So, hmm. Like I said down there in the comments chat I had with Samara, it's a really really good thing I was already in love with Joe Meno from reading The Boy Detective Fails and Demons in the Spring, because this book really wasn't that great. I mean, it was fine, and maybe it was a little more groundbreaking when it came out, but by now it's just kind of a stale / predictable coming-of-age story. It felt very real, and I believed in the characters and the plot, but that's because they're the ...more
Dec 01, 2009 Leo rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: ya-lit
Unlike most of the other reviewers, I had not heard of this book or Mr. Meno before, and had no expectations going into it.

What I deem to be positive about this book are its attention to racial tension in the main character's environment, its lack of sugarcoating of what teenage kids are really like: full of mistakes, pettiness, and insensitivity towards others visibly portrayed through the uses of non-PC words many teenagers often utter ("gay," "retarded," "faggot," "slut," "fatty," etc.), and
Oct 09, 2007 Rose rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: punks!
damn! i really like this book. a sort-of love story from the pov of a sort of metalhead-punk rock boy at a catholic boys school, the 'fat' girl he's in love with, his assorted friends getting high and drinking shitty beer in the basement, divorcing parents, and generally coming of age.
there are two moments that I especially love, his describing a girl as something like 'mean and sour looking, like she'd just make out with you because she's bored' and his feeling after going to his first small-c
I truly wanted to love this book because I read The Boy Detective Fails Again by Meno first. I adore that book--it's one of my favorites. This one was disappointing, to say the least.

The first 200 pages were filled with a lot of teenage-boy angst and the nothing that is a high schooler's life. Many of my favorite books are books within which nothing really happens, so this wouldn't have phased me if the "nothing" that happened actually seemed to be moving toward "something," or seemed to be spea
Dec 13, 2008 Amanda rated it it was ok  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: angsty folk
Recommended to Amanda by: gibbie
Shelves: read-in-2008
For being written by a creative writing professor, this book is overwhelmingly stereotypical. The rebel girl who dyes her hair pink; the twenty-something who can't get away from high school; the boy with his constant erections and lascivious thoughts who really just wants some confidence. And everyone hates their parents (who likewise have stereotypical issues). While I agree that we all go through a lot of the same things in adolescence, sometimes I just wanted to slap the narrator and yell ge ...more
Hannah Messler
Imogen liked it so I liked it (coz I am a convictionless little bastard most of the time when it comes to Art and can easily be swayed in any ol' goddamn direction or other by any ol' goddamn random-ass espousal or denunciation from someone I love or loath). But I think I wouldn't have otherwise. Mainly coz of how I am also MEAN and tend to have the least room in my heart for that which reminds me most ably of myself.

Certainly there were parts where the narrator's voice was angsty in pretty inte
I have the weirdest sensation that I’ve already read this…This was entertaining and kind of fluffy high school relationship stuff. You’ve seen all of these characters before, and they’re not all that distinguished here, but Joe Meno does really have the language down, and the sense of time. If you grew up in that era, you’ll feel right at home…and maybe anyone growing up at all would be able to relate to the constant flow of profanity that doesn’t even have any real purpose except to pepper your ...more
Jennifer A.M.
This is a punk rock coming of age story about a shy high school junior named Brian Oswald with a crummy home life who is in love with (or thinks he is in love with) his best friend Gretchen, who continuously pines for a skinhead, white- power 20-something named Tony Degan. Gretchen is not stupid or racist, she also comes from a messed up home life. Her mother has died before the book begins and she is desperately looking for someone to love her and see her and pay attention to her. Brian's feeli ...more
Jan 26, 2012 Lisa rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: y-a
I read this book a few years ago. I remember loving it. I want to re-read it someday but at the moment, my copy is back in Canada. :(

“‘You never know. That’s the trick, Brian. You never know which times are going to be important until later.’
‘Yeah,’ I said, feeling more weird each fucking minute. ‘I guess.’
‘That’s why you shouldn’t worry. You should just be happy when you can.’
‘That sounds good, Mr. D.,’ I said. ‘Listen, I think I’m gonna head home. I’ll call Gretchen later.’
‘Brian?’ Mr. D. whi
Alika Yarnell
Sep 14, 2007 Alika Yarnell rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: Punk-rock misfits who don't give you the juicy details
This review has been hidden because it contains spoilers. To view it, click here.
Feb 28, 2011 Leah rated it it was ok  ·  review of another edition
Recommended to Leah by: Morgan Summers
I read this book a couple of years ago. To be honest, the only reason that I read it was because it was about people who went to the Catholic schools in my area (Brother Rice, Mother MacAuley, Queen of Peace, St. Lawrence), including my high school (even though QoP is only very briefly mentioned). I thought that it was an okay book. I'm glad, though, that I borrowed it from my friend (she rec'd it to me) and didn't waste my money buying it since I have no desire to read it ever again. As the tit ...more
Jason Jordan
Mar 11, 2008 Jason Jordan rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
People know Meno. With his hands in many cookie jars, however, individuals have become acquainted with him through various outlets. After all, he's unleashed three novels – with the fourth on its way – as well as contributed to other publications such as Punk Planet, Sleepwalk, and Bail. But, perhaps Meno's true popularity began to soar due, in part, to 2004's Hairstyles of the Damned (Punk Planet Books), which proves to be both amusing and endearing....

Read the rest in the October 2005 issue of
Amanda Fewster
Mar 28, 2012 Amanda Fewster rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
This is a great book to read for highschool students. It really adresses a lot of difficulties adolescents have to endure throughout their highschool years. It covers everything from developing a taste in music of your own to being in love with a best friend that you can't confess your love to. The language usage is young and raw, making it all the easier to get lost in the world of a punk adolescent figuring out his life step by step. I became very inspired from several kep parts in this story ...more
Jan 31, 2011 Roger rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Meno writes like a punk, and I mean that in a good way. He writes with a cutting attitude, direct and profane. At first, I was put off by his style and the meandering story, but the book grew on me, and I ended up liking it quite a bit. It's basically a first-person coming-of-age story, full of all the angst that comes along with directionless teenage years. The plot is thin, but the dysfunctional protagonist pulls you in and along as he tries to figure out what life is all about. If you don't m ...more
Maggie Wiggins
A lot of people carried this around with them in my high school hallway. It's an identifiable, interesting read if you enjoy music and pop-culture references. I enjoy the latter but am clueless about the former, which shut me out of much of the novel. I don't think it's especially groundbreaking, but teens tend to tell other teens to read it, so I'm not complaining. Readalikes include Nick and Norah's Infinite Playlist by Rachel Cohn, Peeps and So Yesterday by Scott Westerfeld.
Jun 17, 2012 David rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
This is some seriously nice writing, possibly some of the best I've seen from Meno. This character is just voiced so well, it really makes the book for me. It has exactly that raw, emotive force that it needs to bring Brian to life and ends up being about more than just the events inside without getting pretentious. It's gritty, believable, and seriously worth reading.
Feb 25, 2008 Erin rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
True-to-life and incredibly sweet story of a high school student who feels isolated from family, other students, even friends, plus a big ole dose of metal and punk music from the mid to late 80s. Really enjoyed this one, and will look for more from Meno in the future.
Kim (iScream Books) Markett
Such a great book! It was just about one persons life and I cared about what he did in it. I loved that it took place in Chicago and all the music references. I really loved it! Thanks Steph! I want to read more by him!
Bridgette Davis
Jan 05, 2009 Bridgette Davis rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
This was mostly just fun...but the added benefit of the city of Chicago as a setting made it even more worthwhile!
Aug 26, 2012 Bert rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Thanks Bee for lending this to me! Before reading this I hadn't heard the Misfits song Where Eagles Dare, so it worth it just for that cos it's a nifty tune alright. And Dorie was a hottie.
Antonio Marts
Jan 09, 2016 Antonio Marts rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: lecturas-2016
Uno de los grandes aciertos es la traducción mexicana. Lectura fluida, con ritmo, hasta cierto punto, la clásica obra iniciática pero con peinados punk.
Aug 03, 2013 Mia rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: books-i-own
This book doesn't deserve 3 stars, I think, but I'm a sucker for coming-of-age novels.
Miss Ryoko
Oct 20, 2012 Miss Ryoko rated it it was ok  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: young-adult
Thank the gods that is over...

I bought this book from the library because it sounded pretty interesting. But what was inside the pages was anything but! Now, I don't want to totally go trashing this it was, I argued with myself over giving it a one-star or a two-star rating... the reason I settled with a two-star rating is because I usually reserve the one-star for books I utterly loathe. And while this book was awful, there were SOME things I can praise it for. So, I'll do a pros and
Dana Floren
Feb 08, 2017 Dana Floren rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
I don't really like the typical genre of "high school"/"coming of age" books, but I really enjoyed this! I'm from Burbank, so I may be a little biased since I'm reading about places I grew up around - but I felt this book was very relatable and captured what high school was like beautifully. Only thing I didn't like was that some words/phrases became too repetitive/pointless such as "maybe", "I guess", "you know what I'm saying". At one point, I felt like I could have made a drinking game out of ...more
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Joe Meno is a fiction writer and playwright who lives in Chicago. A winner of the Nelson Algren Literary Award, the Great Lakes Book Award, a Pushcart Prize, the Society of Midland Author's Fiction Prize, and a finalist for the Story Prize, he is the author of seven novels and two short story collections. He is also the editor of Chicago Noir: The Classics. A long-time contributor to the seminal c ...more
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“Just because you have blue hair and fucked-up clothes doesn’t mean you’re better than everyone
else. Because you know what? You’re just conforming to someone else’s code. Even though you don’t
wear khakis or sweaters or whatever, but to me all you guys look the same. You think you’re so
individualistic, but you’re not. You guys—you and Kim and all the rest—you’re like anti-snob snobs.
But you’re just as mean as the preppy kids. You’re all just as fucking lame.”
“I was a shy kid and I was afraid what i said sounded stupid, so I hardly ever saud anything. I was the third wheel. Fifth wheel? I was the fucking wheel you didn't really need, but I still hung around. I thought maybe my silence would one day impress somebody. As of yet, it hadn't done much for me.” 5 likes
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