Thursday, April 5, 2007

Go Now

By Richard Hell

Reviewed by Jonathan W.

Given the recent discussions (on the SOS email list) re: previous drug/alcohol ab/use, I would recommend a book I recently finished reading. "Go Now" is by Richard Hell, who is perhaps best known as leader of the group Richard Hell and the Voidoids. Their 1977 (I think) album "Blank Generation" stands as a testimony to the notion that New York City, NOT London, was where the Punk/New Wave scene had its most interesting roots (Hell worked with Tom Verlaine's group Television before forming his own band).

"Go Now" is the story of Billy Mud, a poet/musician/junky, on a road trip from LA back to NYC with a photographer. She is also his sometimes lover; the two of them have been given a stipend to make the trip and document their experience, he with words, she with pictures. In this short novel, Hell describes with astonishing clarity the machinations and contortions familiar to anyone who has had contact with their own or another's addiction. One section of the book, where Billy Mud is struggling hard to kick his heroin habit, is as profound a description of the withdrawal process and early sobriety as I have ever encountered, in life or print. This is a picture of a person whose struggle to understand and communicate about the world and his own emotions has led him to a life in which drugs are an essential, perhaps the most meaningful component. It is a courageous and honest picture and Hell is far too intelligent to resort to romanticizing anything about this life. As one would expect and perhaps hope, there are no easy answers here or in "Go Now".

The book contains, as might well be imagined, some very graphic language and sex, so......whatever.

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