BOOK REVIEWS PAGE 7
Peter Kalafatis - A REBEL LIFE; MURDER BY THE RICH
Peter Kalafatis - A REBEL LIFE; MURDER BY THE RICH (All And None Press)
This book started out as a letter to the author's unborn baby, when his younger brother died of a drug overdose. It jumps back and force between the past - his childhood and punk rock years - and the present - the three days leading up to the brother's funeral.

The old stories are interesting and sometimes entertaining, and a lot of it is reminding me of my own 80's too. Beatings, stabbings, squats, crime. Things were of course a lot rougher on the streets of New York, and most of us European punks weren't in any gangs, but many of my readers will recognise situations and problems Kalafatis writes about. There's a great passage were he gets stabbed and lies bleeding on the street, scared, but excited because this will get him a reputation. That sums it up really. If you haven't been through that you were never a punk.

Unlike say Aimee Cooper's Coloring Outside The Lines this doesn't cover bands, gigs or even the local punk scene, but only the drug, drink and violence side of punk rock. That makes it rare.

It's a very angry work, focused on one thesis; the rich rule the poor and that's why Kalafatis' life has been shit and that's why his brother died. While there's obviously a lot of truth to that statement, the constant spelling out of this gets a little repetitive. This starts out as a great book that sort of fizzles out to a pretty good book with no particular ending.

One thing I really like about the philosophical message in this is that it never gets sentimental. There's not a trace of revolutionary romaticism here, which has gotta be a first for a book with an attached reading list of Fidel Castro, Karl Marx, Che Guevara and Malcolm X among others.

There's a lot of survivor's guilt and questions of what he could have done to prevent his brother's death in the book's present parts, but they all end the same. The rich murdered him because he was born poor. There's a sort of build up to Kalafatis doing something to revenge him (here; shoot some random rich family), but he never does. Then the book just ends. Which is what normally happens in life I guess.

If you're looking for a book on 80's punk and hardcore this is not it, but I think it's well worth finding. As a counter part to mainstream media this is great. Read it, think about it, but don't necessarily believe it.

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