Will Work for Drugs

Time Out Ratings :

<strong>Rating: </strong>3/5

In an age of smug, snarky, pop-culture-laden prose, Lydia Lunch’s visceral collection of odds and ends seems to overflow with violent sincerity—not to mention blood, vomit, shit, tears and come. But that’s what fans of the ’80s alterna-goddess (performer, storyteller, poet, provocateur) expect, and they will not be disappointed. For the uninitiated, the book, which includes a hodgepodge of autobiographical essays, political and social musings, short fiction and a few interviews with authors such as the late Hubert Selby Jr., works as a suitable primer on the founder of No Wave, a movement that Lunch helped start as the singer of the seminal NYC band Teenage Jesus.

Although the volume is slim, it’s an intentionally arduous read: Lunch wants to make sure that, by the end, her audience feels as battered as she does. Her best bits inspire strong responses. “Canasta” is a nauseating yet darkly funny story in which a man gambles away his adolescent daughter’s virginity. “The Beast” honors her unhealthy relationship with Teenage Jesus’s drummer, a self-destructive fuckup who makes Amy Winehouse look functional (and is now, no surprise, deceased). “Assume the Position” chronicles her hilarious lifelong harassment of the police, and almost makes you feel sorry for the boys in blue.

Lunch’s rants about motherhood (she hates it!), war (it sucks!) and her random Q&As (filler!) are easier to digest but far less satisfying. It’s the more personal and brutal pieces that make this book powerful. For all the pain she’s experienced, Lunch (now 50) is a masochistic survivor who believes that life’s only worth living on the brink of death. Can’t wait to see what she comes up with in her twilight years.—Raven Snook

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By Lydia Lunch. Akashic, $15.95 paperback.