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Tales of a Punk Rock Nothing

3.56  ·  Rating details ·  395 Ratings  ·  37 Reviews
This is the classic underground novel about a Jewish kid from Tennessee, who moves to DC and hangs out with militant vegetarians, manifesto-writing shoplifters, and strippers who write feminist theory. The story is told through journals, letters and zines. Its got everything you could want out of a novel a chase scene, a sex scene, plus angst-ridden critiques of American s ...more
Paperback, 160 pages
Published February 10th 2005 by Garrett County Press (first published August 1st 1998)
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Mar 02, 2009 rated it it was ok
Shelves: fiction, punk
The concept of a punk novel that consists of letters, journal entries and a zine by the main character and some of the people around him is fantastic. The actual content here wasn't my cup of tea, however. Basically it's a reminder of everything that's wrong with punk: judgmental pricks, dogmatism, fashion and its faux pas. Yeah... I can get enough of that reading actual zines and going to shows (though I don't remember the last punk show I went to). An easy read, but I'm glad it's done.
Aug 22, 2010 rated it it was ok
How strange it is to read a fictionalized account of a life that mirrors your very own. Living collectively, dealing with drama and identity politics. Setting up shows dealing with rats being a gentrifier. It was written in the early 90s in DC and the majority of the setting is in a collective house that I stayed at when it was still in existance. Since I knew everyone who lived in that house, I found myself trying to figure out who the people were that he was talking about in the book. It also ...more
Ryan Cullen
Feb 21, 2014 rated it it was amazing
Sometimes a book comes along at the right time in your life. I read this over the new year period and I loved the 'main character' (if it is fair to label him as such) and his gradual exasperation with the left-wing scene.

It paints a great picture of those of us who have ever wanted to do something good and be a positive force for change, but feel hampered by what can only be called considered in-fighting. I started reading the book feeling that I missed that feeling (one of determined hopefuln
Susan Arnold
Jul 24, 2016 rated it did not like it

I really think it's just me that makes this book such a low rating. The story is told through many different mediums, and I knew that going in. The reason I bought the book was because it was outside of my general comfort zone and I wanted to challenge myself, so I wasn't sure if I would like it or not. Well, I didn't.

The main problem that I had with ToPRN was specifically that it was told through multiple different mediums. I'm sure that the authors' intention of that aspect was that it added t
Melissa Martin
I loved this when I read it over a decade ago. I was at the time hitch hiking to Plan-It-X fest, running the original Art Not Ads distro after its founder and my best friend died, train hopping from Baltimore to Philly like catching a bus, cooking at Food Not Bombs, traveling cross country for IMF / World Bank / G8 etc demonstrations and falling madly in love with A//Politicals local boys. I've since settled down, had a child and gotten into law. I'm curious to know if Ill still love it as much. ...more
Sep 19, 2010 rated it really liked it
These guys give a smart, insightful, politically and socially aware, yet funny look at themselves (ok, I know it's fiction) and their world in the early 90s. How old were they when they wrote this? Early 20s? Looking forward to reading their recent work.

For the social justice perspective of these amazing 20-somethings, I especially like the 'zine article on prisons, a summary of the paper Elliot writes for his Race Relations class at University of Maryland, starting on page 140.
Jan 18, 2008 rated it it was amazing
Jamie, how does it feel to know you've inspired a girl I watched grow up, now perched at the edge of thirteen, to shoplift at Urban Outfitters, only to get arrested? The maifesto needs some instructions about learning which corporations are most hip to teenage theft, but, otherwise, down right smart.
Jun 19, 2008 rated it it was amazing
Recommends it for: people who like punk or zines
Even if this book was absolutely horrid, I would still give them an A- for effort. Fiction written as various letters and zines. I met one of these guys, I just can't remember which one. It was back in 1998 and he was hocking the book in Hattiesburg Mississippi, outside of a Grumpies show. It looked like really hard work, and I feel ashamed I didn't buy the book then.
Jim Johnston
May 09, 2014 rated it really liked it
Nice combination of fictional letters, journal entries, and zines. makes the early 90's D.C. punk scene sound as egotistical as any other punk scene. one of the authors was from Iowa City so I'm a little biased.
Jon Rose
Apr 07, 2009 rated it really liked it
I remember when Jamie and Abram were trying to get this published. They finally did it themselves and did a great job. It was fun to read after having lived a few blocks from the location of one of the houses in the book.
Oct 24, 2008 rated it it was amazing
Hilarious look at punk life in the 90's. A good demonstration of what was good about the punk movement, as well as the bullshit involved. Met the author who gave me my copy...he described the book as "beach reading for retired punk-rockers." I think that's fairly accurate.
May 08, 2014 rated it really liked it
Shelves: jewish-stuff
I already have a soft spot for epistolary fiction and this delivered big time. The touches about Judaism were the most authentic I think I've ever read and even if the rest was unimpressive it'd earn points for that, but it was funny and earnest and really enjoyable.
Sep 21, 2008 rated it it was amazing
all the characters seem so familiar...
Jan 24, 2009 rated it liked it
this book reminded me of some very old frineds of mine.
Alyssa abbott
Apr 25, 2008 rated it it was amazing
Very good. i traded a very bad teen fiction for this book. one of the best trades i had ever made.
Nov 25, 2015 rated it really liked it
This is a fairly cute and telling fictional journal/scrapbook of a New Orleans punk who, instead of going to college, decides to move to Washington, D.C. and live a more "punk" life. Elliot's two years in D.C. unfold in a series of letters to his former girlfriend, letters to his little sister back home, journal entries, and three issues of "Mindcleaner" a 'zine he starts. Elliot's punk experience runs the gamut, from living in the Positive Force house, a hazy relationship with a riot grrrrl, wo ...more
Cheyla Scantling
Mar 12, 2011 rated it liked it
what i liked and disliked most about this book is that it felt like i was reading someone's lost misplaced journal. this is odviously exactly what the authors were going for, but at times it felt like all whinning and no winning- no progression. i'm happy to have read this book because it reminded me of everything i love about d.c. adams morgan etc. i could visualize the places in my head and wish that i was there too. this book is a must read for anyone who has interest in punk/feminist -rememb ...more
Jul 30, 2008 rated it really liked it
I was often shocked by how timely this book feels, despite being set in the early 90's. Characters are unhappy with the US President, with the state of US politics, with a war the US is involved in, etc.
Despite the fact that it was written in the voice of an idealistic youth (which I can find it hard to be sympathetic with...often so black & white) I really was drawn up in the adventures of Elliott.

Written in letters, zine, and diary - and very entertaining.
Leslie Ann
Apr 03, 2009 rated it it was amazing
Even though I re-read this later in life and found it a little tarnished and not speaking to my soul anymore (Though I strongly remember the color of the apartment, the bathroom I re-read it in, the decor, the smell of sandlewood incense, the way sunlight pooled perfectly on the beige couch just when I had to be at horrible cafe job in thirty minutes), i love it anyway for loving it in the 90s when I was living a version of Abram's life.

Abram is still a hero!
Hannah Larisch
Nov 04, 2012 rated it it was ok
I read this book after a recommendation from having read Perks of Being a Wallflower. It's teenage angst-y and all, but I found it difficult to read. Despite it's short length, it took me a decent amount of time to finish. It's not something to just read casually on a weekend or whatever. I just found it hard to follow because of how it was written. Oh, and when it ends you just sit there like, wait, what? Anyways, this book was not my cup of tea.
Ed Wagemann
Apr 03, 2012 marked it as to-read
Shelves: rock
Why Everything You Think You Know About Punk Is Completely Wrong:

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Kalli Taub
Nov 08, 2015 rated it it was ok
Couldn't follow the dialogue: got that it was a straight edge no babes booze or bud lifestyle, but why the anarchy and anti-education agenda. Was bored by the overarching themes of squalor vs. elitism- and forging a path (far from the middle of nowhere TN town he grew up in). I think making Elliot a self-loathing-deprecating jew shines a dim light on the problems all young men have- that are not college bound. This book can only relate to the occupiers that occupied that occupiers.
Ryan Mishap
Oct 21, 2008 rated it it was ok
Shelves: punk
Coming of punk rock age tale as Eliot moves to D.C. from a small southern town. Told in the first person and throught he characters zines (a nifty idea, by the way). Nails punk/activist infighting, but some of the attitudes conveyed by the main character come across as anti-feministt under the guise of being pro.
Mar 08, 2009 rated it really liked it
Recommends it for: radicals
Recommended to Lis by: Veronica Beaty
Diary format, I know, I'm a bit iffy about it too, but then you get the wonderful 'zines throughout the piece that just make me want to go and publish one. It reminds you of how to fight and that there is something worth fighting for. Everyone should read this and remember... the fifth of november!
Oct 06, 2010 rated it liked it
I started reading this and sort of rolled my eyes at the high school and young punk version of living an alternative life. But as I got further into the book, the narrator became more thoughtful, less reactive, and clearly was trying to make a difference in the world. A quick read that is a good reminder of problems in the US from the early 1990s that are still very much with us today.
Zeno Izen
Mar 24, 2011 rated it did not like it
Shelves: goodreads, import
So terrible. Plotless mish mash of whining leftist guilt pangs. The American pol-radical punk scene has always been hollow, not to mention ineffectual, self-congratulatory, hypocritically image oriented, elitist, even exclusionary at times. This is a slice of that flavor.

May 14, 2007 rated it really liked it
Recommends it for: wannabe punk rockers
pieced together through journal entries, articles of punk rock zines, letters, show flyers, and other primary sources, this book is a delicious foray into the trials, tribulations, and joys of the D.C. punk rock scene.
Mister Mank
Dec 22, 2013 rated it really liked it
A bildungsroman about the sociopolitical paranoia and privilege guilt of a left-wing DC punk. Also deals with the disfunction and general cattiness of a political punk community. Points for honesty and unique structure.
Tami Lynn Andrew
Feb 19, 2015 rated it liked it
Shelves: punk
While the concept- a novel told through zines, letters, diary entries, etc- is awesome, the actual narrative isn't much more than a punk rock Perks of Being a Wallflower. A good read for a much much younger version of myself.
Ian Hosein
Nov 19, 2008 rated it it was amazing
bought this when the 513 club in atlanta turned into a book/record shop during the day...bought this and a midtown record who i later met at a warped tour signed a poster and had some conversation just rock n roll.
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