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Askew Review 15

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by John Pierson; aka Jughead, Ian Pierce. (Hope and Nonthings) 2005. “Meta-fictional exploration that dances dangerously close to the edge of historical reality.” 252 pages. While visiting Boston with a new band as temporary second guitar, JJ Bunkhead recalls his days with a popular and influential punk band, The Semi-Famous (the name changes with the bands popularity), and contemplates what that past has brought him in the present day. After meeting Franklin Famous, the two start a band and begin a fifteen year journey that includes touring, band break-ups, side bands, band reunions, the flowering of an independent record label, and more emotional ups and downs than most people can endure. Even while enjoying success in the punk world, JJ never really comes to terms with what success is and often second guesses himself and his way of life. On the other hand, JJ can appreciate the positives of his life and music and the influences it has on others. 
The above is admittedly a simple, albeit poor, synopsis of what John Pierson’s book is about; the life of the punk band Screeching Weasel. My synopsis is to the point, but vague with the complexity of the book’s details. Written in the second person point of view, Weasels in a Box starts off a bit awkwardly, but readers will quickly adjust to this unorthodox way of writing. The book also takes many time shifts, sometimes unexpectedly, so readers actually have to pay attention while flying through the book. While the vehicle of the story is music, the fuel that powers the vehicle is what’s going on inside JJ Bunkhead’s head and heart. To tell his tale, Pierson uses characters, bands, and other entities with fictional names that closely resemble their true life subjects. JJ Bunkhead is Jughead, Duck! Records is Lookout! Records, etc. Fans of Screeching Weasel (Semi-Famous) will be able to recognize what’s going on and piece it together. Along with being one clever motor scooter, I also happen to be one avid Weasel fan and I enjoyed the little extra that came with putting the fictional names with the real thing. Fear not nonfans of Screeching Weasel, you will also enjoy the story as Pierson nicely weaves his pages together with first hand knowledge of what went on (duh), humour,  and true sense of realism that will appeal to anyone who enjoys reading stories about musicians and their inner thoughts concerning what the hell is going on inside their heads. As I wrote above, due to its style, the reader must pay attention to every word in order to not get lost, but due to the enjoyable story, this is a relatively easy task even for you jittery bastards out there. Here’s hoping John Pierson writes a book detailing his experiences with his latest band, Even in Blackouts (great band!). I just know he’ll devote pages to the time I spoke with him for about ten minutes after an EIB set at the Middle East in Boston some years ago. I just know it. If I had the cash, I’d option this book for the movie rights. That’s how much I enjoyed this book. Weasels in a Box is revealing, compelling, and a flat out fun time for all to enjoy. – Denis Sheehan



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