An Early Review of Richard Hell’s Latest Compendium, ‘Massive Pissed Love’

Posted on: September 17th, 2015 at 10:28 am by

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Richard Hell’s book of essays – “Massive Pissed Love”

There is no doubt – I am a Richard Hell Fan. With a capital F.

Sure, he was a musician who paved the way for future artists (most notably in the bands Television, The Heartbreakers, and The Voidoids), and the author of one of my all time favorite songs “Blank Generation.” Lately, though, it’s less his music and more the writing that keeps me intrigued. Hell has several books to his name, all of which are recommended (I Dreamed I was a Very Clean Tramp and Go Now among my favorites). So, it was with great pleasure when I obtained an advance copy of his latest book of essays entitled Massive Pissed Love before it hits stands.

Now, I could tell you that this is the type of book I couldn’t put down, but I’d be lying. This is by no means a poor reflection of the book, but rather extremely complimentary. Let me explain…

Massive Pissed Love is unlike anything Hell has released to date. It’s a collection of essays/ruminations, separated into sections (as one might expect, the sections are “Massive,” “Pissed,” and “Love”). Subject matter covers such a wide array of topics that it would be completely impossible for me to give you an accurate representation. However, to give you an idea, by picking up this book you can expect to learn about music, artists, movies, politics, photography, poets, and sex, among others. Interested yet?

What I loved so much about this book was how much it challenges the reader to set it down and reflect. For example, an early entry is a comparison piece pitting The Rolling Stones against The Velvet Underground. After I finished reading this particular essay, I found myself walking over to my record player, putting on these records, and really taking into consideration what Hell had so interestingly (and sometimes hilariously) described. (No spoiler alerts.)

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Rachel and Richard Hell

Hell gets your mind churning about topics that you may not have otherwise thought about in ways that you might not have even considered. I can’t sit here and say that I knew about every single subject he was discussing, but that was the beauty of it – I felt like I was being entertained while expanding my mind at the same time. But, let’s not forget that Hell is well known for being one of the focal points of the punk scene, and for all of us that love him for that (and I know many of us do) there are plenty of essays that reflect that time in his life. Want to read a tribute to Hilly Kristal? About Punk Couture? How about his experience of sex while on drugs? He covers it.

This series of essays is well articulated and researched, sourced from decades’ worth of experiences. Whether he’s deep into a discussion about dreams, reminiscing about days at CBGB, or discussing Jim Carroll, he keeps you hooked and doesn’t disappoint. Truthfully, the subject matter runs the gamut and can probably appeal to most everyone.

What I’m really trying to say (in case you haven’t noticed) is Massive Pissed Love is a fantastic read. I would go so far as to say it’s my favorite among all the books Hell has written thus far, and that’s saying a lot. And alright, maybe I’m slightly biased because I’m already a Richard Hell fan (and may or may not walk around with a Voidoids pin on my backpack – yep I’m 29).

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Photo: Roberta Bayley/Redferns

Plan to pick up your copy when it’s released October 12 and see for yourself what this legendary New York artist has created this time around. Oh, and for those of you who want to see him in person (in a controlled setting off the streets), take note of some upcoming appearances:

October 14 – Reading and Signing at The Strand
October 27 – Reading at Book Court in Brooklyn
November 18 – Evening with Luc Sante at McNally Jackson

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