Alt-culture celeb Carver’s debut memoir asks: What comes next when you’ve lived more by the age of 20 then most people have in their whole lives?
Raised in a peripatetic manner by a Nietzschean drug-dealer father in California and an absent-minded mother in New Hampshire, the already high-strung author upshifted fast into mid-’80s adolescent freakdom. While still a teenager, she started a flirty correspondence with shock punk GG Allin and formed her own noise band, Suckdog. The first show featured a bass player and keyboardist who couldn’t play, a recording of the Bee Gees in the background and Carver ripping off her dress and screaming as she dove into the crowd of bikers and agro-punks, slapping faces at random. Over the next few years, she traveled the country with Suckdog, performing hostile, anti-art “operas” in basements and small clubs to negligible crowds, usually accompanied by her much older French husband (long story). It was all part of her inner burning, and an emptiness held at bay with movement, rage, shock: “If Suckdog isn’t good, at least we can make it unique.” Along the way Carver was a teen prostitute, occasional journalist and eventually the victim of an abusive relationship with a pseudo-celebrity neo-Nazi. In 1994, when their son Wolfgang was born with a chromosomal deletion that left him requiring constant care, she finally got off the life-as-performance-art merry-go-’round. Carver’s account is explosive, an X-ray of doomed souls and attention-seekers. “We try to get out of these cocoons and make our way down to where our bodies are. We try shoplifting and racist/sexist/ageist humor (trying to offend our way out); we get naked on stage. . . . We can’t get out. We can’t wake up.”
Strobe light flashes of insight.