What are some good books about the goth and punk subcultures?
March 18, 2011 3:13 AM   Subscribe

What are some good books about Goth and Punk subcultures? Fiction and non-fiction both welcome, so long as there is some focus on the goth and/or punk subcultures. The more recent, the better. (Graphics novels would also do, and maybe movies)

Would also appreciate works considered canon for these two subcultures. For eg., Neuromancer and Ghost in the Shell are canon for cyberpunk. What are the equivalents for goth and punk?

If you want any specifics, I want to research the dynamics of how these subcultures try to subvert conformity and their appeal to teenagers, as well as the lifestyle prescribed by these subcultures.
posted by Senza Volto to Writing & Language (44 answers total) 23 users marked this as a favorite
Check out 'Subculture: The Meaning of Style' by Dick Hebdige. It's non-fiction about punk in Britain. It might be a little old & fuddy but it is (was?) canonical in anthro circles.
posted by gnutron at 3:25 AM on March 18, 2011 [5 favorites]

How about The Taqwacores by Michael Muhammad Knight? It's a novel about young Muslim punks in the US.
posted by Ziggy500 at 3:39 AM on March 18, 2011 [1 favorite]

Canon books for goths:
Lost Souls by Poppy Z. Brite
The Sandman series by Neil Gaiman
The Bloody Chamber by Angela Carter I would also include Carter's Love for her description of how jaded hippies began to form proto-punk art movements.
Anything and everything Edgar Allen Poe and H.P. Lovecraft
Films for goths:
I'm listing films with goth characters, mainly.
Edward Scissorhands
The Addams Family (Particularly Wednesday)
The Craft
It strikes me as I make this list that lots more contemporary movies throw a character in black lipstick in the background but few feature a goth as the lead character.

Memail me if you want more suggestions. I'm also researching goth subcultures and I'd be glad to share.
posted by Kitty Stardust at 4:10 AM on March 18, 2011 [1 favorite]

Iggy Pop, I Need More
Henry Rollins, Get in the Van
American Hardcore
John Lydon, Rotten
posted by Rykey at 4:25 AM on March 18, 2011

Oh, as far as movies go, don't forget:

The Nightmare Before Christmas
The Crow
The Lost Boys


Interview with the Vampire
anything by Edward Gorey
Johnny The Homicidal Maniac
posted by Windigo at 4:31 AM on March 18, 2011

Mick Mercer is the canonical chronicler of goth culture.
posted by Bodd at 4:38 AM on March 18, 2011

The Dark Reign of Gothic Rock (oop) is a decent history of classic goth bands (Sisters, Bauhaus etc). NME magazine also did a series of reprint editions, one of which was goth-themed and featured lots of archive interviews and reviews.

And the BBC did a Goth Day a few years back, featuring a documentary with Andrew Collins (of Collings and Herrin fame). Not sure if you can find it anywhere now though.
posted by permafrost at 4:39 AM on March 18, 2011

Goth: Undead Subculture
posted by pinky at 4:42 AM on March 18, 2011

Just published: The Gospel of Anarchy by Justin Taylor. About a group punk house in Gainesville in 1999.
posted by staboo at 4:47 AM on March 18, 2011 [1 favorite]

Please Kill Me.
Psychotic Reactions and Carburetor Dung.
posted by scruss at 5:04 AM on March 18, 2011 [1 favorite]

I'm a fan of Tales of a Punk Rock Nothing.
posted by sugarfish at 5:18 AM on March 18, 2011

Thank you for all the suggestions so far! Keep them incoming!
posted by Senza Volto at 5:32 AM on March 18, 2011

posted by Bango Skank at 5:45 AM on March 18, 2011 [3 favorites]

Something to keep in mind; there's different types of goths and the art/books/films that influenced the cyberpunk goth set might not have even registered with the romantic Victorian style goths, you know?
posted by Windigo at 6:23 AM on March 18, 2011 [1 favorite]

John King: Human Punk. For the Britpunk angle.

Also, "End of 77" by Richard Sheridan - if you can still get it.
posted by Decani at 6:30 AM on March 18, 2011

@Windigo: I know, but bring it all.
posted by Senza Volto at 7:03 AM on March 18, 2011

Our Band Could be Your Life
posted by camneely at 7:18 AM on March 18, 2011

@Cat Pie Hurts: Read some excerpts of that online, this is the sort of stuff I'm looking for!
posted by Senza Volto at 7:19 AM on March 18, 2011

It's not recent, but on the topic of punk and subverting conformity, I recommend Lipstick Traces by Greil Marcus.
posted by Monsieur Caution at 7:43 AM on March 18, 2011

England's Dreaming by Jon Savage.
Rip It Up And Start Again by Simon Reynolds (post-punk)
posted by The Card Cheat at 8:27 AM on March 18, 2011 [1 favorite]

Liquid Sky, more New Wave then goth, but every former-goth kid I talked to has raved about it.
posted by The Whelk at 8:35 AM on March 18, 2011 [1 favorite]

We Got the Neutron Bomb covers early LA punk pretty well.

We Never Learn covers a recent period in garage punk. Haven't read it yet but it looks good.
posted by look busy at 9:03 AM on March 18, 2011

Just Kids by Patti Smith
Please Kill Me: The Uncensored Oral History of Punk by Legs McNeil
Argh Fuck Kill: The Story of the DayGlo Abortions by Chris Walter
I, Shithead: A Life in Punk by Joey Shithead
Punk Is A Four-Letter Word by Ben Weasel
Our Band Could Be Your Life: Scenes From The American Indie Underground 1981-1991 by Michael Azerrad
Banned in DC: Photographs and Anecdotes from the DC Punk Underground (79-85) by Cynthia Connolly
American Hardcore: A Tribal History by Steven Blush

Documentary films:

The Decline of Western Civilization
Hated: GG Allin and the Murder Junkies
We Jam Econo: The Story of the Minutemen

Sorry for the US-centric perspective, but it's what I know.

As for works considered canon by US punks, that list is as long as the number of people compiling it, but I'll offer a few suggestions that might not be too controversial:

Every Stooges record
Every Velvet Underground record
MC5, Kick Out The Jams
Patti Smith, Horses
Ramones, Ramones
Gun Club, Fire of Love
D.O.A., Hardcore '81
Mission of Burma, Signals Calls and Marches
Minor Threat, Complete Discography
Bad Brains, Bad Brains
Black Flag, My War
X, Wild Gift
Minutemen, Double Nickels on the Dime
Husker Du, Zen Arcade
Swans, Holy Money
Replacements, Tim
Butthole Surfers, Locust Abortion Technician
Big Black, Songs About Fucking

...but you hafta remember that this was back before the Internet so every city had a scene and you might not know what was happening one state over let alone across the country or you might hear about it from some photocopied 'zine or poorly-recorded cassette tape. So there is no "canon". Like D. Boon said, "Punk rock is whatever we make it to be."
posted by BitterOldPunk at 9:17 AM on March 18, 2011 [4 favorites]

Dance of Days is another good book on DC punk.
posted by look busy at 9:27 AM on March 18, 2011

And not quite punk or goth, but I love it: Fucked by Rock: the Unspeakable Confessions of Zodiac Mindwarp.
posted by permafrost at 9:41 AM on March 18, 2011

Thanks for all the recommendations so far. I'd prefer works covering subcultures in 2000s though, with the advent of the Internet.
posted by Senza Volto at 10:02 AM on March 18, 2011

Seconding Taylor's Gospel of Anarchy. It's set in the late 90s, but he was in Gainesville in 2004 and I feel it was more reflective of that time period.
posted by PhoBWanKenobi at 10:07 AM on March 18, 2011

Also, older, but requisite: SLC Punk. Also, it's been awhile since I've read it, but I really enjoyed Hairstyles of the Damned when it came out c. 2004.
posted by PhoBWanKenobi at 10:10 AM on March 18, 2011

I'd prefer works covering subcultures in 2000s though, with the advent of the Internet.

There is little 21st century punk rock that matters. Punk as a significant musical genre that pushes boundaries and creates vibrant art is effectively dead. Punk is irrelevant, one pose among many, reduced to a sneer and a hairstyle.

Except for Fucked Up. They're great.

posted by BitterOldPunk at 10:40 AM on March 18, 2011 [1 favorite]

Lots of good ones already mentioned, but here are a few more on the punk side:

American Skin - Anyone who grew up in Chicago in the late 80s - early 90s and used to go to Medusas should read this. Great book even if you didn't.

Easter Rising - yeah, it's by the same guy who wrote All Souls. It's about growing up in Southie (South Boston) and also about being a punk from Southie. It has a good amount of old Boston punk references.
posted by toddst at 10:45 AM on March 18, 2011

Seconding 'Subculture: The Meaning of Style' by Dick Hebdige. It's a great foundation for thinking about subcultures in general and it is small and wonderfully written. Highest possible recommendation.
posted by wemayfreeze at 11:33 AM on March 18, 2011

Which is to say: old, but not fuddy!!
posted by wemayfreeze at 11:33 AM on March 18, 2011

The 2000s ended just over a year ago, which is probably too soon to start examining subcultures from that time (that may even still be going on).

Also, because of the advent of the internet, I think the 2000s were ripe for appreciating subcultures and other things that did not get widely disseminated in their time.

Finally, punk had pretty much blown its wad by the 90s. You may as well examine the doo-wop scene of the 80s.
posted by look busy at 12:25 PM on March 18, 2011

Fuck You Heroes photographs by Glenn Friedman
posted by electroboy at 12:27 PM on March 18, 2011

I know you prefer works covering subcultures in the 2000s, but I thought I would throw in Burning Fight: The Nineties Hardcore Revolution in Ethics, Politics, Spirit, and Sound. It's a pretty excellent book of interviews about 90s straightedge and hardcore, focusing mostly on political hardcore bands.
posted by indeterminacy at 2:09 PM on March 18, 2011

It's a mockumentary but I'm fond of Hard Core Logo.
posted by jaimystery at 5:04 PM on March 18, 2011 [1 favorite]

Punk Rock And Trailer Parks, a graphic novel about a character growing up in Akron during the late 70s.
posted by namewithoutwords at 5:50 AM on March 19, 2011 [1 favorite]

On girls in punk, Pretty in Punk: Girls' Gender Resistance in a Boys' Subculture. Ten years old now, but not too out-of-date.
posted by SeedStitch at 12:40 PM on March 19, 2011

Rotten: No Irish, No Blacks, No Dogs
is John Lydon (Johnny Rotten)' autobiography and includes quotes from most of the early British punks
posted by Lovecraft In Brooklyn at 6:24 PM on March 20, 2011

Kicking Tomorrow

posted by 5_13_23_42_69_666 at 7:03 PM on March 20, 2011

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