I'm skeptical of books that presume to capture a subculture. I'm even more apprehensive about books by non-writers (paging Ethan Hawke -- step away from the computer). But Godspeed, the debut novel by punk dykon Lynn Breedlove, frontwoman for San Fran queercore outfit Tribe 8, smashes through my cynicism.
Godspeed tells the story of Jim, a mohawked, combat-booted boy-dyke bike courier from the West Coast. Jim gets off on speed -- barrelling up and down steep Mission District hills on her souped-up bike and shooting dirty skag into her veins.
When Jim's drop-dead-gorgeous femme stripper girlfriend Ally orders her to get clean or get lost, Jim launches into a terrifying whirlwind -- first to kick the habit, then to forget the girl.
Breedlove creates a powerful portrait of an addictive personality in the semi-autobiographical character of Jim (the author was an addict and started a successful all-grrrl courier company). She revels in her surroundings, describing strip club peep show booths with cum-stained concrete, grotty anarchist squats and dark-alley drug deals in vivid detail.
The descriptions of drug trips are dizzyingly accurate. Breedlove's adjectives and metaphors tumble over each other like an amphetamine rush and leave your pulse racing after every few pages. She also manages to cram in astute deconstructions of gender, sexuality and class without getting too preachy.
My only complaint is the disjointed plot, told in trippy vignettes. One minute she's in Cali, the next in Texas; one minute she's hallucinating, the next she's interviewing for a job. But I guess it comes with the turf.
Godspeed's punk rock poetry stands up there with seminal teen dyke-punk novel Sister Safety Pin and anything by the late Kathy Acker, whose writing workshop inspired Breedlove to pen this novel. Write Books at email@example.com