Okay okay yes I read a rom-com and I’m not going to mince words with some “it’s a romantic comedy BUUUUT-” qualifying statements. Molotov Hearts by Chris Eng is an entertaining book whose plot centers on two people who catch feelings for each other. It isn’t solely about the love between the guy and the girl though, it’s also about the love for and within the punk scene. In the same sense that this review is about my love of minor spoilers.
Socially-maligned high schooler Jenn watches the punk kids loitering after school, particularly the cute guy always reading physics textbooks. After a fight with her abusive mother she sneaks off to join their punk house, dumpster dives, suffocates at basement shows, and gets to smash. But such a plot summary overlooks the hand-sewn details.
Molotov Hearts’ plot is propelled almost entirely by women’s agency. Jenn takes the initiative to goes over and talk to the punks and her dude, Becky bails her out at school after they break up, other punk girls front bands and lead the dumpster-diving excursion. There’s no synchronized shouting of “girl power” to oversell things, women getting shxt done is just the default state of the Molotov Hearts world. Jenn’s authoritarian mother is full of agency and fairly evil, but eh, representation isn’t always enough without class consciousness. And is this book ever conscious of its class! The life of the punk house isn’t a glamorized Lost Boys carefree adventure — the dumpster diving scene is as filthy and dangerous as it is calorie-dense, most of the punks dress themselves from piles on the floor (if they do dress themselves) and there’s an appropriate lack of headboards. It reads like it’s drawn from actual bummy quasi-commune experience rather than someone trying to piece together what dejected punk kids do based on Rancid and MxPx lyrics.
But that’s all window dressing, albeit window dressing that knows it should be old bedsheets instead of actual curtains. I wouldn’t have stuck with the book were it not for the characters. Jenn is smart and resourceful, but not tritely hypercompetent. She doesn’t get everything right; her friends straight-out tell her that her priorities are pretty screwed up at one point and there really aren’t enough books out there willing to let their protagonists be wrong about things. Or have friends that call them out on it and then actually talk about what’s going on. But even if fidelity to actual human behavior isn’t your thing, there’s still plenty of fun and snark as the punks play off each other and pwn some posers.
If I had a consistent rating system Molotov Hearts would get 4.5 out of 5 somethings. Let’s say 4.5 perfectly good wheels of cheese pulled out of the Safeway dumpster.
(I’m only marking it down because it doesn’t acknowledge that Blink-182’s first album was pretty legit and if we can’t have petty squabbles like that then what’s the point of a subculture anyways.)
Aaand after several months of the tedious domestic stuff that comes with living in a city where the housing market is being devoured by AirBnBs, I have writing stuff to promote and blog stuff to somewhat feel ashamed about the word “blog” when doing because it’s not pleasant as onomatopoeia.
I don’t know what the deal is with certain other ebook retailers’ listings, but Barnes & Noble has the ebook version of Northern Dandy up for $2.99! Sashay through a multiple-choice misadventure by pushing fingers into your screen instead of risking paper cuts!
A few months back someone noticed that Esoterotica’s spoken word albums were up on Spotify, something they didn’t necessarily agree to. Instead of going through some convoluted legal process, they decided to just run with it and get their own account and playlists going. Here’s one I made for them, and the only band I’m embarrassed to have on it is The Hippos.
There’s a lot more stuff lined up for me in the fall so expect whatever service you’re reading this on to blip slightly more frequently than it has. Until then, buy my (current) book!
This week’s Esoterotica theme was “The Future of Sex.” I took an unusually pragmatic approach compared to my usual style.
On the subject of sex in the future… I don’t know how to broach this subject tactfully. You might not want this to happen but it’s not necessarily something you have control over: everybody here needs to realize there is going to be a Last Time That You Have Sex. I know that I currently plan on living forever, but when I was 16 I planned on having sex with Christina Ricci in one of those hotel rooms with a giant mirror on the ceiling and you would have heard about that on stage by now if it happened. What I’m saying is I want to be prepared for the worst-case scenario: not that I will die, but that there will be some sexless amount of time in between my death and my final sexual incident. Whenever, with whomever, and on whomever else’s couch that may be.
Continue reading There Will Be a Last Time
Entry number five or six in my series of shorts about a third-shift psychologist. Special guest-reference to the work of Andy Reynolds, fellow New Orleans SF writer — check his stuff out here.
Nocturnal Admissions: Swine & Roses
Ever since I helped that smooth guy from Cafe Envie get over his affair with a sexually-frustrated ghost, my practice has begun taking on the occasional supernatural client. A number of them, unsurprisingly, have trouble integrating into modern society.
Andy is probably the one who gave Circe got my number. Dream girl? I can’t date clients. Pixie? It was more of a Chelsea cut. But manic? That’s exactly what her appointment that night was about!
“So,” she began, “after some bro-y sailor spread gossip about me being a battleaxe just because I wouldn’t line his crew up and blow ’em all in a row like a trained seal, I had to skip town for a couple thousand years. New Orleans seemed like a fun place with the vampires and all.”
“That’s just for tourism,” I said.
“Whatever helps you sleep at night.”
Continue reading Nocturnal Admissions: Swine & Roses