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A scenester on the L.A. new wave circuit in its heyday, Compo here distills her experiences in a debut collection of interrelated stories that ask: Is there life after punk, or just deathrock? Honor, for example, idolizes the melancholy popstar Robert Smith of The Cure, and writes him long, obsessive letters detailing her dreams. She moves into a decaying Hollywood flat with ""ECS, formerly Stacy, i.e., ex-Stacy,"" herself infatuated with Warhol femme fatale Edie Sedgwick. But Honor's mania eventually lands her in a Swiss sanitarium, where she ""vows to resist the pathological world of happiness that the doctor tries to impose."" In a culture of celebrity worship, Compo's zonked-out fringe characters find meaning in new looks and names. Zelda Zonk communes with the ghost of Marilyn Monroe, who leads her to the star's hidden diary--a search that ends in surreal farce. The life of celebrity death figures into all these sociologically curious stories, with the tragicomic Sid Vicious providing a role model for most of the anemic young boys in black who stumble throughout these pages. For older readers, Compo includes a short, fact-based piece on Sid's brief career as a Sex Pistol, an episode involving drugs, murder, and suicide. If Steve aspires to Sid's charisma, Vex goes for the Bowie as Ziggy look, and Cruella and Orange keep changing the name of their record store, Sid-worshipper Mario, who reviews porn videos and shoots heroin, spurns the pretty Scottie, who abandons punk for Catholicism. Miserable, a former glitter-and-glam rocker, now works as a librarian and lives up to her name as she tries to corrupt a cute 16-year-old. Another aging hipster, the writer Sharlatt, develops a wild passion for a young and oddly saintlike musician in London. A number of these goofy wannabees cross paths at a commemorative march for Sid Vicious in London, where more joyless bisexual couplings ensue. Too many of Compo's post-punkers are nothing but a bizarre name, a celebrity mask, and a bad attitude. Like them, she risks being a ""talent with no direction""--for all its strange authenticity, this volume goes nowhere.

Pub Date: Nov. 7th, 1990
Publisher: Faber & Faber