Frank Owen‘s Clubland: The Fabulous Rise and Murderous Fall of Club Culture delves into drug dealer Angel’s murder by club kids Michael Alig and Robert “Freeze” Riggs. It objectively states the facts and points to police reports and witness statements. Owen was a journalist for The Village Voice and wrote an article on Special K, which was at the time the new drug in the club scene. As a result of his research he became friendly with some of the dealers, promoters, club owners, DJs, and club kids. Writing with authority he allows the outsider a glimpse into the club scene and what can happen behind the scenes. But the book leaves a lot to be desired.
It’s banned book week! Or rather, it was last week. . . .Time to celebrate those books that have been challenged and banned. Many classics that have been a part of the literary canon for decades have had their merit questioned. We have days to commemorate what happened. And we have Banned Books Week to remind us of what could have happened. We could have lost so much art if brave publishers and booksellers did not protest censorship. Books were banned for their language and content. Anything remotely sexual was considered pornographic. Racial slurs used to indicate a racist society were challenged. Something slightly bawdy was banned. And books that reinterpret religious texts were burned. Why? They are all merely ideas. They are all just musings, just observations, just words. But people become so caught up in their personal beliefs that they want to force them on other people. It seems strange to me that books are still being challenged and banned to this day. Continue reading
William S. Burroughs‘ Junkie is written tight and clean, just like I like it. But there is no humor, no black humor, nor any dry humor. The book is dark and hopeless, just as Burroughs’ addiction is. There is no redemption for his narrator; he never changes. But without Burroughs’ strict attention to detail, without his lack of repenting, we would not have the literature we have today. He wrote about gay sex easily without explaining it or making it dirty or salacious. He just wrote about his life. He created a whole new genre—cult culture.
On the Road is about Neal Cassady and Jack Kerouac driving across country, searching for something. It’s about their relationship with each other and the rest of the world. And it’s also about how Jack defines himself in relation to Neal and society. Jack Kerouac consciously creates a mythology through story, thought, and dialogue. Jack writes for a literary audience and to define his place in society. He uses Neal to both reflect and define himself. Jack likes the idea of being seen as a madman, he wants to be perceived as an outsider to society, to be aligned with alcoholic hobos, and defined as a hoodlum. He sees himself as an outsider that is too intelligent and wild to be understood by the common man. Continue reading