Michael Endelman
October 08, 2004 AT 04:00 AM EDT

Hairstyles of the Damned

type
Book
Current Status
In Season
author
Joe Meno
publisher
Punk Planet
genre
Fiction

We gave it a B+

Brian Oswald wants to get laid. That about sums up the aspirations of Damned’s antihero, a confused, smart-mouthed, and horny teenager on Chicago’s South Side. The book plays like High Fidelity for the safety-pins-and-Mohawks set, with music mapping the characters’ interior lives and smartly sequenced mix-tapes charting their emotional growth. Meno examines the schisms in high school society — the D&D geeks, bullying meatheads, teen queens, and brutal skinheads — through the brisk, breathless voice of Oswald, whose conversion from idealistic nerd to sneering punk is forged in a pressure cooker of split homes, bloody street brawls, and cruel Catholic schoolteachers. Despite the bleak backdrop, Hairstyles of the Damned captures both the sweetness and sting of adolescence with unflinching honesty.

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