by Nick Gerrard
Punk Novelette introduces us to four friends as they grow up in the disenchantment of the late 1970s. All come from fractured backgrounds with, on the face of it, very few prospects. It’s a bleak, hopeless era and then Punk arrives giving the four a sense of purpose and belonging that endures through the highs and lows that stretch over four decades.
I really enjoyed Punk Novelette. It’s a clever, educational and interesting read. The book opens by introducing us to all four protagonists in separate and succinct chapters. It’s immediately easy to see how the arrival of Punk gave Colin (the narrator), Julie, Ben and Jaz the acceptance, kinship and a certain structure that was not present in their everyday, domestic lives. Mr Gerrard’s prose is abrasively fast-paced with a core of poetry that encapsulates the late 70s/early 80s in all their gritty colloquialism. None of the friends’ experiences or behaviour are sugar-coated; making you grin, cringe and despair in places and occasionally, at the same time. It’s a neatly structured book that, despite some of the content, is easy to read and immersive. Mr Gerrard epitomises the energetic cry of the youth movement; be that Punk or any other. All, to a certain extent, follow similar lines which makes this book appealing even if you have no knowledge of this particular zeitgeist (like myself). The ideology is still present and this book reinforces the principle that what throws people together in their late teens is often the glue that holds their friendships together in later years even when the movement and/or them have moved on. Colin, Julie, Ben and Jaz journey and develop with varying degrees of success and yet each still return to the group; their meeting at the end is imbued with a poignancy for this very reason. I found it eye-opening how Punk was entirely accepting of Ben and Jaz, who are predominantly homosexual. I presumed, wrongly, from the general perception of Punk that it was a homophobic environment and this book made me consider it differently and sympathetically.
Punk Novelette is a well-observed slice of punk nostalgia and authentic social commentary from the voice of a movement that was, and still is, maligned without being truly understood. Highly recommended.
I received Punk Novelette through Reedsy Discovery, where this review can be viewed here Buy from: