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Last One To Die Paperback – August 30, 2011
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The Amazon Book Review
Author interviews, book reviews, editors picks, and more. Read it now
About the Author
Michael Essington is an American author and poet, most famous for his Mike Check column. Over the years Essington has done dozens of celebrity interviews, as well as hundreds of music reviews. The weekly Mike Check column, which appears on Strange Reaction, has also been printed in the very popular Deep Red Magazine. Essington's column is read weekly by thousands of fans from Los Angeles to Denmark. Essington has been writing since his high school days. He is married to wife, Elizabeth, and has two children, daughter, Breana & son Lucas. And has a dog, Max, that Essington suspects may have a learning disability or a general lack of life goals.
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Essington was into the punk scene at a time when D.I.Y. was the ethos whereas the mainstream was frowned upon. Furthermore, million dollar label’s like Fat Wreck Chords was non-existent and Epitaph was a small record company where Bad Religion was once highly enamored by the underground.
As I’m reading through different time periods throughout this book, I can visually see myself in the stories and following along; the author’s depictions make it possible. Through the first half of this memoir, Essington gives glimpses of his punk rock youth. However, in the last half he goes full throttle into the movement of epic gigs and the bands he played in.
All in all, I highly recommend you read this book. What’s best about this memoir is that the author is like most of us were in the old punk scene as ticket holders who sometimes got on the guest list or had to sneak into the gigs. It’s blue collar literature at its best. It holds it’s ground with any of the books put out by famous punk musicians.
I can very easily relate to many of the background details here: the music, the pop culture references, etc., are of my time. But what makes this book work is that the details aren't the thing, the gut feeling is. Essington's writing is visceral, and anyone who has lived past the age of 25 can relate to these tales. We've all had the idiotic friends, the family fights, the relationships we wax nostalgic over, the decisions we wish we could take back, the celebrations and successes, and the tough lessons to learn. His story is everyone's story: what the hell are we doing here anyway?
The short pieces he writes combine with a naturally conversational style to make you feel like you're sitting with an old friend trading stories that you've both heard a thousand times over, but you want to hear again anyway. Others might use traditional book-review words like "stark," "unflinching," or "no punches pulled" to describe Mike's tone and outlook; I think "realistic" is a better choice. No, he doesn't dress up the grittier aspects of his tales to make them more palatable, nor does he apologize for who he was in his youth or who he is now. But then again, when you're sitting with your friend trading stories, you know that you'll call BS on each other if you try to make yourself look better than you were. I never got the sense while reading that I'd be calling BS on any of Essington's tales.
Do pick this one up. Definitely a must-read!