Boozecan, by Chris Walter

Gofuckyerself Press, 264 pp, $10, softcover.

If the name of Chris Walter's publishing house hadn't already alerted you, the opening of his latest novel gives you fair warning that Boozecan isn't a polite read. Jake, the drug-dealing albino as slick as Sick Boy, sits drinking at the Luv-A-Fair, watching a jump-suited "hottie" at the bar whose "nipples are poking rudely against the thin cotton, and I can clearly see where her thong disappears into her ass". Proceeding to describe his cock's predictable reaction to this sight in the first of too many such references by most of the male main characters, Jake sets the tone for what follows: this is cartoonish, adolescent-maleí‚ ­fantasy material here, as full of clichés, over-the-top characters, sloppy sentences, and telegraphed intentions as any after-hours club at 4 in the morning.

The plot concerns a group of youth who'd been homeless Granville Street punks a few years back, brought together again by squeegee-wielding Donny and his dreams of opening a booze can in the 100 block of East Hastings, and who include his speed-freak buddy Slats, dealer Jake, nerdy Rod, and buxom Judy, whose job at a sex-goods store goes sour after being raped by a customer and then leered at by the police. To the stereotypical evil cops add thuggish bikers, washed-up rockers, coked-out strippers, and a host of other Central Casting characters, and you wonder whether or not Walter sees the irony in his character Rod telling us that "People today have no real feelings, and simply fake their way through life mimicking behaviour they've seen on TV. We're all B-Grade actors reading the same bad script."

The local flavour, production values, and sheer chutzpah involved in self-publishing a fat book like this deserve some recognition (see for info), but the lack of editorial polish keeps it from being what it might've aspired to: a dime-store pulp novel using punk as a theme.

And as the Dead Kennedys sang in "Nazi Punks Fuck Off": "Punk ain't no religious cult/Punk means thinking for yourself/You ain't hardcore 'cause you spike your hair/When a jock still lives inside your head".