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May 1, 2009

Book Notes - Blake Nelson ("Destroy All Cars")

In the Book Notes series, authors create and discuss a music playlist that relates in some way to their recently published books.

Blake Nelson's latest novel Destroy All Cars is told through the diary entries, essays, and internet quizzes of 17 year-old James Hoff, a Marx-reading, anti-consumerist 10th grader prone to rants. Nelson draws Hoff and the world around him with his usual dark humor as well as a surprising amount of social criticism of our consumerist culture and educational system.

In his own words, here is Blake Nelson's Book Notes essay for his novel, Destroy All Cars:

My new book Destroy All Cars gave me a chance to revisit a short period in my life, during my junior year in high school, when I "went political."

This meant that I had found a cool looking edition of Camus's The Rebel which I read and did not understand a word of, but which I loved carrying around and thinking about.

From there I moved quickly to the Bolshevik Revolution, (such a satisfying word Bolshevik). I doubt I even understood where exactly this happened, but apparently revolutionaries overthrew something and the posters were awesome.

I decided around this time that Notes from the Underground was my favorite novel, though I did not read it.

I also during this time listened to the Crass, the Sex Pistols, Gang of Four, and the like, even though I lived in Portland, Oregon and everyone else was listening to Little Feat and Boz Scaggs.

The best part of all of this was I went downtown almost every day and sat in the huge Multnomah County Central Library where I looked at books and met other weirdo teenagers who "studied" there at night, which lead to coffee drinking at "cafes" and the wearing of "punk" clothes and the smoking of "pot" and the like.

Eventually i actually read the entire The Communist Manifesto, which I also didn't understand but struck me as so much cooler than the crap on TV or the stupid shit my fellow teenagers were into.

It felt good to be so much smarter than everyone else.


"Pretty Vacant" The Sex Pistols
This song still sends chills down my spine.

"At Home He Feels Like a Tourist" Gang Of Four
Twisted cool f**ked up alienation.

"Do They Owe Us a Living (Of Course They Do)" The Crass
English people are so much smarter than us.

"Sonic Reducer" Dead Boys
Punk rock.

"What's My Name" The Clash
I sorta hate the Clash. But I like this song.

"Frightened" The Fall
I'm in a trance/And I'm frightened/And I don't want to dance/I want to go home.

Blake Nelson and Destroy All Cars links:

the author's website
the author's Wikipedia entry

Charleen's Blog review
Kidliterate review
Pop Culture Junkie review
Reading Rants! review
Shelf Elf review
So Many Books, So Little Time review

also at Largehearted Boy:

Previous Book Notes submissions (authors create playlists for their book)
Note Books (musicians discuss literature)
guest book reviews
musician/author interviews
52 Books, 52 Weeks


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