TEETH by Hugh Gallagher

TEETH

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KIRKUS REVIEW

 This first novel from a popular 'zine writer has youth-cult exploitation written all over it, and Gallagher lives down to a publisher's worst expectation: His portrait of the artist as a young punk journalist combines all the self-pity and self- aggrandizing one could expect in such a callow effort. The conceit here is painfully obvious: The narrator's badly damaged teeth, which he delays getting fixed, are a correlative for his slacker angst. Twenty-two-year-old Neil is ``fame hungry,'' but clings to his self-image as a ``struggling downtown writer,'' ``New Jack Poet Warrior,'' and ``Irish Samurai.'' Skipping college, and leaving Nowheresville, PA, Neil drops-in at NYU while churning out punk/gonzo prose for the Manhattan-based skateboard 'zine Dusted. Having smashed his mouth while diving from a window at a high- school brew bash, Neil makes his dental trauma the recurring motif of his manifesto in progress, Neil Before God, a few chapters of which appear in Dusted before its sudden demise. While his colleagues ``sell-out'' to skateboard companies, their rival mainstream mag, Bop Cheese, and Hollywood, Neil stays true to his punk ethos. Which means he's broke, has no job, no woman, and an unfinished book. The California wedding of his former editor draws Neil west, where he's disgusted by his erstwhile friends, especially Flash, who now hosts an ``alternative rock'' show. Worse, he discovers that Flash's East Coast poverty was a pose. Full of class resentment, Neil decides it's time to leave the country. In search of his dream woman--an Italian he once met in London--he takes off for her homeland, a nation of bad dentistry, and there he gets involved with a band of punk anarchists determined to turn a concert into a full-scale riot. At last, after a long night of bad drugs, Neil returns stateside to have his teeth, finally, repaired. Gallagher chews on more than he's bit off in this puerile bit of self-puffery. (Author tour)

Pub Date: March 1st, 1998
ISBN: 0-671-55166-3
Page count: 290pp
Publisher: Pocket
Review Posted Online:
Kirkus Reviews Issue: Dec. 15th, 1997