Kirkus Reviews QR Code
THE PUNK ETHIC by Timothy Decker


by Timothy Decker

Age Range: 14 & up

Pub Date: May 1st, 2012
ISBN: 978-1-60898-120-5
Publisher: Namelos

A month in the life of a blunt, cynical punk-rock guitarist.

Readers meet Martin through a combination of contemplative black-and-white illustrations, episodic first-person narration, italicized internal monologues and excerpted school papers. Through Martin's eyes, they also meet best friend Jeff, whose relationship with Martin seems based on mutual antagonism, and photographer and fellow musician Holly, who lets Martin use her computer to do homework. There's no real hook to the plot, but there is motion: After Martin's English teacher responds to his paper on landmines with a Theodore Roosevelt quotation (“Do what you can, where you are, with what you have”), Martin assembles, promotes and finally emcees a benefit concert. Meanwhile, romantic tension and misunderstandings build between Martin and Holly. Each narrative segment is dated, and every day from April 2 to April 30 is covered, contributing to the episodic, haphazard feel. Incidents and dialogue sometimes move the story forward and sometimes don't (a concert-going girl's insistence that Martin wear a Band-Aid on his ring finger, for instance, is never explained to Martin or to readers). A revelation at the end is heavier than the rest of the story but not completely out of place.

Funny and unusually freeform, but then, maybe rigid narrative structure is for losers. (Fiction. 14 & up)