Jill McDole reviews Punk Minneapolis, Peter Swanson's tale of Punks in 1980s Minneapolis.
Author: Peter Joseph Swanson
Publisher: Stone Garden.net Publishing
Availability: Out Now
I never know where author Peter Joseph Swanson will take me when I open one of his books. Punk Minneapolis opens with seemingly vacuous young adults extolling the virtues of beer and the punk music scene in 1989. Each person wants to be cooler and more ‘punkier’ than the next. The majority of the characters work together in an uptown pizza parlour and enjoy spending their time off together as well. As hard as these fictional beings seem to fight against the mainstream, the more obvious it becomes that they feel a need to belong.
Once the reader gets through the first few pages of mindless character jabber and cursing, the story begins to pick up steam. The eccentric characters of a deranged, levitating nun, a thirty-something punk “mystic”, and an angry ghost take the pizza parlour clan on a wild adventure. The book is great fun; the characters are hilarious. A surprisingly poignant epilogue both ties up loose ends and leaves the reader wondering what happened to their own adventurous younger selves. I believe we have yet only been given a taste of the author’s complex talents.
Anyone familiar with the U.S. “twin” cities of Minneapolis and St. Paul in the state of Minnesota will find a lot of familiar references (I briefly lived on Hennepin Avenue myself), as will anyone remotely aware of punk music in 1989. The book is filled with references pertinent to the 1980s, which I found especially enjoyable. I was the only teen in my rural Midwestern town with a Sex Pistols album, and it seemed that parts of the book were a personal wink and nod to me.