Guest Review: Jennifer Mathieu's Moxie by Dave Brown

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Get it from your library or click the button to buy now

Moxie takes place in the small Texas town of East Rockport.  Vivian Carter is a junior at East Rockport High and is fed up.  Fed up with the blatant, and apparently staff approved, misogyny and double-standards that seem to dominate those hallowed halls, Vivian takes inspiration from her mother's "misspent youth" and starts a movement.  See, Viv's mom was a Riot Grrrl and thanks to a box of memories filled with pictures, fliers, and zines and the frantic sounds of Bikini Kill, she decides that the only way to make a change is to do it herself and thus Moxie is born. 

Jennifer Mathieu's latest book Moxie is not only a great piece of social commentary but an excellent story.  Following the trials of a normal girl just trying to get through the ridiculous bullshit of a small-town high school is equal parts heartbreaking and inspiring.  This story also touches me in a couple of different ways.  First off there's the fact that I'm a parent with kids in high school who was heavily involved in punk rock in high school (and still to this day).  Second is the fact that a major part of this story deals with Moxie itself.  Moxie is a zine (I love the fact that pretty much everyone at the school calls it a newsletter because let's be honest, who born after 1999 is going to know what a zine is, other than Vivian whose mom is awesome).  Vivian creates an honest to god, cut and paste (old school style not the right-click, Ctrl+C, Ctrl+V action) zine in her bedroom, making photocopies of it at the local copy shop!  That is some stuff straight out of 1994 and I love it!  Why?  Because back in the late '90s, I produced a zine called Caught Off Guard (which you can read more about here) so needless to say, I loved this.  But beyond all of that, this is an excellent, at times frustrating, and ultimately moving story.  I happen to work in a smaller town in Oklahoma, so the situations and places that Mathieu describes in Moxie ring so very and sadly true. 

While there's been some criticism of the book for being too overtly feminist and others for being too white and straight, I see it as a story that speaks pretty clearly to its environment and the background of the author (speaking of, I was already a fan by the end of the book but then Mathieu referred to Sassy magazine in the Notes from the Author sections and it was all over).  In this day and age, you simply can't please everyone.  You make something or take a stand and you open yourself up to all sorts of criticism from every imaginable side.  Some will scream that you've gone too far while others yell that you haven't gone far enough.  The way I see it, if you're making that many people, from all of those different sides, angry then you're probably doing something right.  And Moxie isn't just right, it's excellent. 

Dave Brown 12-16-17.jpg

Title:  Moxie (Official,  Google PlayGoodreads)
Author:  Jennifer Mathieu (OfficialFacebookTwitterInstagramTumblrBlogGoodreads)

-- Dave Brown

Thanks Dave for the great review. Be sure to check out his music blog by clicking the link below.

http://oklahomalefty.com

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Guest Review: TroubleBoys: The True Story of the Replacements by Bob Mehr

Title:  TroubleBoys: The True Story of The Replacements (Official, Goodreads)

Author:  Bob Mehr (Twitter, Instagram, Facebook)

Trouble Boys: The True Story of The Replacements is nothing short of spectacular.  The book follows the life and times of the Minneapolis, MN punk, college, rock ‘n’ roll pioneers TheReplacements, a story that has long needed telling but as much as this story needed to be told, it needed Bob Mehr to tell it.  Mehr, a professional music journalist who has worked for the likes of MOJO and Spin, dedicated nearly a decade of his life to writing and researching Trouble Boys and, boy, does it show.  The book painstakingly details the lives of Paul Westerberg, Bob and Tommy Stinson, and Chris Mars (The Replacements’ original lineup), their family history, what brought them into music and the band, and what happened to them afterwards.  But that’s not all.  The book also covers the life of Bob ‘Slim’ Dunlap and Steve Foley (the replacements in The Replacements) along with family members, significant others, managers, producers, and the unofficial fifth Replacement Peter Jesperson.  If these names mean nothing to you, then you’re probably unfamiliar with the band, their music, and their history, and that’s okay.  The Replacements never had any mainstream success.  They were either too raw when the people wanted polished or too polished when the people wanted raw.  They were misfits, miscreants, and overall fuck ups to the nth degree, often sabotaging themselves and their potential success.  Besides, some things just aren’t meant for the masses.  They are either too good or too quirky or just in the wrong place at the wrong time.  The Replacements were all of those things and more. 

What makes Trouble Boys so incredibly good is its brutal honesty.  The Replacements were, and still are, a complicated group of individuals, and this book does not shy away from that fact.  This band, and their story, is completely laid bare by Mehr, drunken warts and all, providing stunning clarity into what made them so incredibly special and why their music still touches people to this day.  This is the book by which all other rock biographies should be judged, is a must for fans of the band, and a must for students of the history of rock ‘n’ roll. 

-- Dave Brown

http://oklahomalefty.com

Thanks Dave for the great review. Be sure to check out his music blog by clicking the link above.

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