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What We Do Is Secret
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What We Do Is Secret

3.79 of 5 stars 3.79  ·  rating details  ·  149 ratings  ·  17 reviews
“Why am I a punk? Because I wasn’t anything before, except different. And now it’s like I’m different, but with a vengeance.”

It’s been months since the suicide of Darby Crash, L.A. punk rock icon and lead singer of the Germs. He checked out on the same day John Lennon was shot: December 8, 1980. But for Rockets Redglare, it feels like yesterday. Darby was the hot-as-sun
Paperback, 368 pages
Published April 12th 2005 by Villard
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I'm giving this book five stars because of Thorn Kief Hillsbery's inventive use of language and the amazing ease in which he captures a particular time and place. The time, 1981 and the place Los Angeles, most specifically the LA punk scene- not the one all rose tinted by the Hollywood industry machine, but the gritty one. The one that I heard stories about from near-dead human wreckages that barely survived it. Their voices were here.

Not only that, but Hillsbery thinly veiled one of my favorit
I first saw Penelope Spheeris' (later of "Wayne's World" fame) documentary about the LA punk scene, "The Decline of Western Civilization," in Pullman, Washington at WSU in 1982. I spent that summer in Orange County, CA where I got a great tan, the worst hangover I've ever had, and was introduced to philosophy, a discipline I've followed ever since. One of the memorable characters in the film was a dilapidated wreck of a human being with a gift for lyrics and a weakness for drugs named Darby Cras ...more
I read to about page seven before realizing there was no chance I'd ever finish it. It is written as if meant to be read aloud by some douche-y spoken-word artist in the most masturbatory way possible. This is a shame, as I'm fairly certain a 300-page book about the Germs would be a really interesting read, but I wouldn't have survived an attempt on this one.
This is one of my all time favourite books. The way in which it is written I could see irritating some readers, but if you can catch the flow of the book and ride it through Rockets' constant stream of consciousness as he moves through a day and night in his life, you'll get sucked in. As for the comments from some readers calling the book "contrived" due to the constant "pop culture" references, I have to say, I disagree with you entirely. This book was not written in order to target ALL reader ...more
I really love this book. There's a quote towards the beginning that really sums up my own life: "And I try to be all, No Fear and No Regrets but there's one kind of fear you can't exactly high-five with and make it all better now, that fear of who you really are, ocean deep inside." I loved Hillsbery's other novel, War Boy. But for some reason, even though I really enjoy reading this novel, I just cannot finish it. I'll put it down for a few weeks, but it's written stream of consciousness so whe ...more
Suki Fleet
I admit thinking when I started reading this book I was never going to finish, the language is very stylistic and it does take a good few pages to let yourself become immersed, but you have to...this book is unbelievably good.
It is one of my favorite books of all time, and I have to say a great influence on my writing. Rocket and the other characters are so true it is beautiful.
And like so many other people have reach the end, you will immediately re read the whole book.

Some bo
Ugh, I couldn't finish it, although I liked it at first. I thought it was fun and clever and I enjoy inventive wordplay and experimental writing. But in this case, I really felt it got in the way. Maybe if the book had been shorter, but as it stands, I only made it halfway through before I had to put it down. The story was difficult to follow and I found the near-constant lyric-dropping to be pretentious and exclusive and really, really irritating. Great, I can recognize an X lyric from three pa ...more
There is not one sentence in this book that isn't on fire. Don't plan on stopping, or breathing. It will turn your hands to ash. The writing is unequivocally to the moon amazing. Seriously, read this. I had been in a reading slump after The Kindly Ones. Who could touch that, was my feeling. But. Pick this up. Read the first couple pages, and you will know. . . .now here's an "effing" book. Here's an "effing" story. Here's where I am going to be for a bit so don't even bother to talk to me about ...more
This is another book I really want half stars on. I'm firmly between 2 and 3 stars here. But I'll err on the side of liking this more than I didn't, mostly because there are some parts that flow, that really capture the essence of visceral stream of conscious punk teenage-dom and it was great. But there are moments when it was really really disjointed and felt like someone pointing out all the cracks in a tile floor and making you find the broken pieces and fit them all back together. It just wa ...more
You have to read the book as fast as it's written or thought by the main character, it's a stream of consciousness so it's hard to put it down and start again, personally, I just wanted to read on and on, tripping over words and pages. The writing style is brilliant and unique, capturing form the first to the last page and it definitely is one of my favorite new books.
Melody Yeung
A slow read at first, hard to follow- with his conscious vomiting a bunch of pop culture references/made up words all over the place, but it's his word-choice that gets to the heart of who Rockets Redglare is, and to the soul that's lurking within.

Minus 1 star for being crazy hard to finish 346 pages in this kind of banter, but the story is gold.
The Young Book Collector
About three years ago I read Sarah by Laura Albert (JT Leroy) and the whole time I was trying to read it I was thinking "my God, what's with the phrasing?" The same thing happened again when I tried to read this book. Oh well, on to the next.
One of my new favorites. Beautiful, trippy language, an explosion of words that are almost too fast for the thought process. A unique look at American youth that aren't focused on in literature, with a raw heart.
I really, really, really loved this book. It took me a while to adjust to the style of writing, but once I did, it was a smooth read. As soon as I finished it, I immediately re-read it!!
Man, I just saw the movie and it was no where near what the book was. The language in the book flows perfectly.
Contrived, almost to the point of being completely unreadable.
Atzin Moraless
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Thorn Kief Hillsbery is an American novelist. He is the author of War Boy and What We Do Is Secret (nominated for a Lambda Literary Award). He completed his undergraduate education at Evergreen State College and received an MFA Columbia University. He currently lives in Manhattan where he is working on his new novel, Empire Made.
More about Thorn Kief Hillsbery...
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