Tuesday, February 28, 2017
Nazi punks fuck off
I'm just going to start by stating that I, personally, stand behind the punching of confirmed nazis, neo-nazis, and white supremacists. That seems like it's fairly solid ground to stand on to me, but if you're not okay with the literal punching of nazis or are incapable of punching nazis yourself you might enjoy the vicarious nazi punching of American Skin, though the book also raises the issue of the how white supremacy is seductive to young, disenfranchised white men.
De Grazia's novel tells the story of a teen runaway who ends up as a skinhead in Chicago in the late eighties; the novel is an exploration of the skinhead/punk scene and the turf wars between anti-racist skins and nazi skins early in the split between the two groups. Some of the discourse surrounding that division (multiracial, working-class frustration vs. white supremacists who blame diversity for their poverty) is still part of the punk scene and it's interesting to see the conflict from a perspective that's earlier than I've been able to have, but there's more in common between the two groups in De Grazia's novel than I think even he realized. The anti-racist skins are more racist than would be acceptable today if someone wanted to call themselves an anti-racist, for example, and the misogyny of even characters we're supposed to admire is pretty off-putting.
But for all its issues American Skin is a novel that I enjoyed reading and that I could see myself reading again. It's exciting and fast-paced for the first half and full of introspective self-loathing for the second half and both parts are supremely readable. There is a lot of graphic violence in the book and *spoilers spoilers spoilers* some unintentional incest. /spoilers The violence might chase some people off and I don't blame them; I was made uncomfortable in places by the giddy joy surrounding descriptions of graphic beatings or torture and I expect that others would be similarly effected. But, again, I did enjoy reading it.
Here's where you can find the novel on Amazon