Synopses & Reviews
Included in MTV.com
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A selection of the Barnes and Noble Discover Great New Writers Program.
"Meno gives his proverbial coming-of-age tale a punk-rock edge, as seventeen-year-old Chicagoan Brian Oswald tries to land his first girlfriend...Meno ably explores Brian's emotional uncertainty and his poignant youthful search for meaning...His gabby, heartfelt, and utterly believable take on adolescence strikes a winning chord."
"A funny, hard-rocking first-person tale of teenage angst and discovery."
"Captures the loose, fun, recklessness of midwestern punk."
"Captures both the sweetness and sting of adolescence with unflinching honesty."
"Joe Meno writes with the energy, honesty, and emotional impact of the best punk rock. From the opening sentence to the very last word, Hairstyles of the Damned held me in his grip."
--Jim DeRogatis, pop music critic, Chicago Sun-Times
"The most authentic young voice since J.D. Salinger's Holden Caulfield...A darn good book."
"Sensitive, well-observed, often laugh-out-loud funny...You won't regret a moment of the journey."
"Meno is a romantic at heart. Not the greeting card kind, or the Harlequin paperback version, but the type who thinks, deep down, that things matter, that art can change lives."
--Elgin Courier News
"Funny and charming and sad and real. The adults are sparingly yet poignantly drawn, especially the fathers, who slip through without saying much but make a profound impression."
"Underneath his angst, Brian, the narrator of Hairstyles of the Damned, possesses a disarming sense of compassion which allows him to worm his way into the reader's heart. It is this simple contradiction that makes Meno's portrait of adolescence so convincing: He has dug up and displayed for us the secret paradox of the teenage years, the desire to belong pitted against the need for individuality--a constant clash of hate and love."
"Joe Meno knows Chicago's south side the way Jane Goodall knew chimps and apes--which is to say, he really knows it. He also knows about the early '90s, punk rock, and awkward adolescence. Best of all, he knows the value of entertainment. Hairstyles of the Damned is proof positive."
--John McNally, author of The Book of Ralph
"Filled with references to dozens of bands and mix-tape set lists, the book's heart and soul is driven by a teenager's life-changing discovery of punk's social and political message...Meno's alter ego, Brian Oswald, is a modern-day Holden Caulfield...It's a funny, sweet, and, at times, hard-hitting story with a punk vibe."
--Mary Houlihan, Chicago Sun-Times
"Meno's language is rhythmic and honest, expressing things proper English never could. And you've got to hand it to the author, who pulled off a very good trick: The book is punk rock. It's not just punk rock. It's not just about punk rock; it embodies the idea of punk rock; it embodies the idea of punk--it's pissed off at authority, it won't groom itself properly, and it irritates. Yet its rebellious spirit is inspiring and right on the mark."
Hairstyles of the Damned is the debut novel of our Punk Planet Books imprint, which originates from Punk Planet magazine.
Hairstyles of the Damned is an honest, true-life depiction of growing up punk on Chicago's south side: a study in the demons of racial intolerance, Catholic school conformism, and class repression. It is the story of the riotous exploits of Brian, a high school burnout, and his best friend, Gretchen, a punk rock girl fond of brawling. Based on the actual events surrounding a Chicago high school's segregated prom, this work of fiction unflinchingly pursues the truth in discovering what it means to be your own person.
"This is all worthy if familiar stuff...and will entertain readers who find tales of teen misadventure and rock and roll irresistible." Booklist
"Written as a first-person narrative, the novel brings Brian to life by making full use of those colorful expletives and sexual jokes that high school boys love so much." School Library Journal
"[A] well-observed, often laugh-out-loud funny book you would recommend to young-adult readers...and as prime nostalgia for 30-somethings." Chicago Tribune
"This book is hella good. Joe Meno manages to sink into the teenage-outcast experience, challenge segregation, and provide step-by-step instructions on dyeing hair pink in this realistic account of finding your identity. After reading Hairstyles of the Damned
, I'm glad I'm not in high school anymore."
--Amy Schroeder, Venus magazine
"Hairstyles of the Damned is observational comedy of the best kind, each glittering small detail offering up a wave of memories for anyone alive in the latter part of the previous century. Did you imagine you had forgotten the smell of arcades, the allure of muscle cars, the dress codes and emotional rebellions, the cringing horror of adolescence? Beware: Joe Meno can make you remember."
"What makes Hairstyles of the Damned compelling is Meno's ability to create compelling is Meno's ability to create the rhythm of teen-speak without pandering, and his ability to infuse the story with pop-culture references. A good read for those wanting to remember their youthful mischief."
"Meno's recounting of first concerts, first loves, and the first tragedies of adolescence are awesomely paired with the heavy backbeat of late-'80s subculture. The contagious foot tapping that is symptomatic of a good record is the same energy that drives you as you follow Meno's narrative."
Hairstyles of the Damned is an honest depiction of growing up punk on Chicago's south side: a study in the demons of racial intolerance, Catholic school conformism, and class repression. It is the story of the riotous exploits of Brian, a high school burnout, and his best friend Gretchen, a punk rock girl fond of brawling.
Hairstyles is an honest depiction of growing up punk on Chicago’s south side: a study in the demons of racial intolerance, Catholic school conformism and class repression. It is the story of the riotous exploits of Brian, a high school burnout, and his best friend Gretchen, a punk rock girl fond of brawling.
Joe Meno won the 2003 Nelson Algren Literary Award and is the author of Tender as Hellfire (St. Martin’s, 1999) and How the Hula Girl Sings (HarperCollins, 2001). His online fictional serial, The Secret Hand, is published through Playboy Magazine. His short fiction has been published in TriQuarterly, Bridge, Other Voices Washington Square, and has been broadcast on National Public Radio. He lives in Chicago, and he is a columnist for Punk Planet magazine.
The debut novel from Akashic's new imprint, PUNK PLANET BOOKS!
About the Author
Joe Meno (born 1974) is a novelist, writer of short fiction, playwright, and music journalist. He won the 2003 Nelson Algren Literary Award and is the author of Tender as Hellfire and How the Hula Girl Sings. His online fictional serial, The Secret Hand, is published through Playboy magazine. His short fiction has been published in TriQuarterly, Ninth Letter, Bridge, Other Voices Washington Square, and has been broadcast on National Public Radio. He currently teaches fiction writing at Columbia College Chicago. He is a frequent contributor to Punk Planet magazine, where his comic strip Iceberg Town is featured.