Sunday, December 12, 2010
Peter Joseph Swanson's Latest, 'Punk Minneapolis'
It's not exactly a hot tub time machine, but Peter Joseph Swanson's Punk Minneapolis will take you back to 1989. (I was 12 then.) Forget everything you've seen on I Love the '80s. That's all about corporate yuppie mall stuff that would make Raven, Becky, Sandra, Tope and Bunny Umber want to puke. They're punkers, and their purpose in life is to rock out, drink beer, steal pizza and other essentials and offend the yuppie world. Technically, Raven is a darksider, but he hangs out with the punk rockers and shares their philosophy.
Life isn't all pepperonis and salad bars, though. Strange things are happening, things that seem to center on the crazy nun who stalks the uptown Minneapolis pizza parlor (formerly a hair salon) where Raven, Becky and Sandra work. Is that really her face Raven sees in his second-floor window at night? What is the K-Mart ouija board trying to say? Are there really space aliens in the walls, as Tope says?
Several bizarre accidents and cosmic revelations later, we arrive at the '90s. Punk is dead, and so are some of the characters. Others have moved on to become what they once feared and loathed. Only Raven has remained somewhat true to his artistic ideals, wondering how he can make a novel of the beer-soaked, pizza-greased, Plasmatic chaos that was 1989.
The weirdest part of all is that Peter Joseph Swanson's literary ouija board seems to have channeled some images straight out of my head. He writes about Gothic, a movie about Lord Byron and Percy and Mary Shelley I couldn't get out of my head only days before I read this book. I had also just finished watching The Prestige, which features David Bowie as Nikola Tesla. In the book, Tesla is one of Tope's fixations, even though Tope keeps calling him "Tescula." Peter Joseph Swanson, stay out of my brain.
If the epilogue of Punk Minneapolis puts you in the mood for a peek into the lives of Midwesterners in the 1990s, then follow it up with I Made Out With a Teenage Communist!