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Other Book Reviews:
The Black Veil
- Rick Moody

Africa Speaks
- Mark Goldblatt

The Shape of a Pocket
- John Berger

Media Unlimited
- Todd Gitlin

Carter Beats the Devil
- Glen David Gold

Somebody's Gotta Tell It!
-
Jack Newfield
Violence, Nudity, Adult Content
- Vince Passaro

Perpetual War For Perpetual Peace
- Gore Vidal
The War Against Cliche
- Martin Amis
Look at Me
- Jennifer Egan

Them: Adventures With Extremists
- Jon Ronson

Tishomingo Blues
- Elmore Leonard

Letters to a Young Contrarian - Christopher Hitchens
With Love and Squalor -
Kip Kotzen and Thomas Beller
Shanghai Baby -
Wei Hui
Shop Talk -
Philip Roth

Halls of Fame -
John D'Agata
This is Not a Novel -
David Markson
My Name is Red -
Orhan Pamuk
The Corrections -
Jonathan Franzen
Nickel and Dimed On (Not) Getting By in America -
Barbara Ehrenreich
Spreading Misandry
P. Nathanson and K. Young

Godspeed
By Lynn Breedlove

(St. Martin's Press, 2002)

Godspeed, a lesbian descendant of Jack Kerouac's On the Road, is a first novel by Lynn Breedlove, frontwoman for the punk band Tribe 8. Jim, our narrator, is a thrill-seeking San Francisco bike messenger with a substance addiction and a devil-may-care attitude. She loses her job and "brilliant" stripper girlfriend, turns to dealing, then tries to forget about drugs by traveling with a punk band as a roadie. When she finds herself on Manhattan's lower east side, Jim gets a cab driving job and teams up with a group of squatters to battle the police, all the while planning to return to California and win back the girl.

Jim's prose is trippy and slangy, full of alliteration, rhyme and rhythm. Fun new vocab words are everywhere, from "trannies" (trans-gendered people), to "hags" ("crazy, rocker-pervert hellions outside even dyke society"). Some readers will at first find the email-casual style of Jim's voice a bit contrived; it may seem that she is trying hard to break every rule of grammar just for the sake of non-conformity. In fact Jim herself is dislikeable from any number of angles - she swindles her friends, cheats on lovers, has a penchant for violence and is generally an obnoxious self-congratulatory deadbeat. But once you've warmed up to the cadences of her messy syntax, it's hard to resist Jim's quirky charms, and she becomes a surprisingly appealing character.

Jim tells the tale of her journey with a series of snappy anecdotes about topics such as running rush-hour red lights on her bike; chatting with nude girls backstage at a strip club; finding a point of entry for her needle when her arm is already riddled with track marks; surfing beer and blood covered stages at punk shows; and yelling, "Yo Jersey!" at bad drivers in Manhattan. She peppers her narrative with tangential rants about cops and the system, philosophical asides about love and friendship, and childhood glimpses of her hilarious Dietrich-wannabe German mom.

Godspeed is full of action, but not all that much plot, at least until the last third of the novel. Although the main thread of the story appears to be Jim's relationship with stripper girlfriend Ally, the love of her life makes too few appearances for a reader to completely empathize with Jim's supposed devotion to her or understand why their connection is all that special. But it doesn't really matter - the novel works simply as a documentary, a roller-coaster-paced tour of Jim's world.

--- Christine Leahy




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