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Punk Rock Ghost Story Paperback – September 23, 2016
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Top customer reviews
That’s the crux of David Agranoff’s latest and strongest novel, Punk Rock Ghost Story. After buying a tour van that belonged to the infamous punk group, the F***ers, the members of People’s Uprising find themselves unknowingly retracing the tour route of the van’s previous owners and they realize too late they’ve become trapped within a supernatural nightmare.
There are a lot of things I really dug about this book. Using Frank’s journal as a subtle framing device was a smart move. It’s an easy way for the reader to move between the events of the past and present, while at the same time showing us how punk has changed over time. It also acts a Frank F***er’s manifesto which becomes the mainline for Frank’s spirit to take hold over those who read it.
Agranoff expertly captures the strain of what it’s like to be on tour. He doesn’t glorify life on the road. The relationships are strained, but they’re also strengthened by the euphoria they feel when on stage, and the need to ban together when darkness crashes down onto them.
As a small aside, the punk movement had lost steam by the time I was born, and I was always more into metal growing up. So I can’t claim any kind of knowledge of how things used to be, but what I can say is that Agranoff’s familiarity and experiences during punk’s heyday add validity to this novel that I think would be lost in lesser, more inexperienced hands—they feel honest and real which I think is a testament to both his abilities as a writer and his time growing up in the punk scene.
All that said, if you’re also looking for a well-plotted ghost story with a unique backdrop that you won’t find anywhere else, then this is definitely for you.
Take an entire discography of old school punk and hardcore, a haunted van, add a dash of angry youth, a liberty Mohawk, some drugs and alcohol, and you’ve got yourself a driving force of a novel that pushes the boundaries of the serial killer and ghost story tropes and binds them together with the gritty underground of 80’s punk.
Yes, this is a ghost story, but there are no haunted houses and rattling chains and spirits whose bones yearn for the discovery that will finally be put them to rest. There’s more to the ghost motif. For one, Agranoff examines the social duress of punk rock from its brazen early days of being the new whipping post for conformist hatred to becoming everything punk was never meant to be. I bet you bought that Misfits shirt at Hot Topic, didn’t you? Times are always changing and there is often a need, a longing for nostalgia, to experience times past vicariously through books or movies or music. Punk Rock Ghost Story captures this sort of longing through Nate’s obsession with the ghosts of punk rock’s past, but living through the music isn’t enough. This book also deals heavily with obsession and the negatives that can come from drowning in the stuff.
I would be remiss not to mention that this book, yes, a Deadite Press release, a horror story, is also a love story. Sure, Nate’s love for Hardcore music, but a human love story as well. The question is, does Nate’s love for the scene (or at least his romanticized view of a scene long past), rival what he feels for the girl of his dreams?
It is clear that David Agranoff has a serious passion for punk, and I suspect that his personal views on how the scene has permuted over the years bleeds onto the pages of this story. That’s what makes it so real. That’s what makes me believe in the ghosts, the punk rock ghosts.