Author: George Tabb
Publisher: Soft Skull Press
Retail Price: 9.99
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When I was first introduced to Maximum Rocknroll in the early 90s, Tabb’s pieces always stood out. When I outgrew MRR, I would still pick it up for Tabb. Soon after, I’d find his pieces in the New York Press, which became the only reason to pick up that weekly as well.
While most perzine writers fell for the eloquent prose of Aaron Cometbus or the zany verbosity of Rev. Norb, my early first-person stories tried to emulate those simple, clipped Tabb sentences that expressed a gangly, awkward, outsider mentality that I related to.
In this autobiographical collection of short stories, you can understand where that outsider mentality incubated. Tabb writes about his childhood, growing up a rare Jew in WASPy Greenwich, CT, where the physical and emotional abuse from his father gave no relief from the physical and emotional abuse from his classmates.
Anyone else would tackle this in self-pity, but Tabb is Tabb: you can’t help but laugh at his descriptions of getting beaten up by just about everyone, including the blind and disabled kids in his school. But the moments of bittersweet humor strengthen the underlying sadness of the experiences, and while he doesn’t come out and say it in the book, you can easily see how and why punk rock became his escape.