From Publishers Weekly
For those who equate "emo" with lonely, malnourished rock bands, Alternative Press vets Simon and Kelley provide a vivisection of this deceptively large slice of the American pop culture pie: "it's a state of mind...a place for people who don't fit in-but who long to fit in with other people who don't fit in." With casual prose and unflagging energy, the authors look at a laundry list of emo affairs: fashion, internet, film, literature and music among them. Simon and Kelley know the territory inside and out, profiling ten emo types ("Trustafarian," "Christian," "Ex-Hardcore"), "emo ancestors" (including Emily Dickinson and Cameron Crowe), a detailed timeline and a comparative " 'Emo' vs. 'So Not Emo' " list-and that's just the first chapter. Unexpected resources and sarcastic swipes abound: record store recommendations segue into clever, cutting guidelines for naming your band. Readers will be reminded of Robert Lanham's The Hipster Handbook (right down to Rob Dobi's detailed, comic-realist illustrations), but like that title, Simon and Kelley's may not appeal to its subjects (emo fans read books primarily "to brag about them in social situations"). On the other hand, would-be scenesters will pick up plenty of tips-though there's a significant possibility that the info here will be dated in six months.
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Simon and Kelley describe emo culture slyly in this perky lifestyle guide. Basically, emo is music made by "a bunch of guys barely out of high school" who are concerned "with decidedly high school problems" (heartbreak, friendship, etc.) more than with "approachable hooks." Growing out of and away from increasingly insular punk rock, emo sets lyrics that are very often introspective and achey. Self-centered, whiny songs and introspective posing have been part of rock from the beginning (e.g., "Tell Laura I Love Her," Jim Morrison's tortured-artist act), but with emo they are the center of a packaged subculture pitched to "the preppiest of preps" being "punkish," "lacrosse jocks" who sing along to "weepy acoustic anthems," and "Long Island dudes" who "keep journals, cry in front of girls, and write the word art
with a capital A
." Simon and Kelley list movies, songs, fashions, and even eating habits to reveal what is and isn't emo. There's a hint of satire in all this, which seems right, given the arch irony of the emo mind-set. Mike TribbyCopyright © American Library Association. All rights reserved