Coloring Outside the Lines by Aimee Cooper
I love community – part of the reason I do IndependentClauses is the hope that I’ll be able to assist in creating a community of like-minded individuals. Whether it’s a local, national or international group of like-minded people, I love community.
This interest in community and especially communal living drew me instantaneously into Coloring Outside the Lines, an autobiographical account of being a punk in the early 80’s. As a part of Aimee Cooper’s experience as a punk, she got aligned with The Connected, or the TC, as she calls them through most of the book.
The TC was a group of punks that lived communally – crashing in houses when they could, living on the street when they had to. Cooper’s house became one of their crash pads as Cooper became involved in the punk life – working at the punk rock ‘zine Slash, going to shows, fighting off New Wave, skateboarding, causing good-natured mayhem and occasionally getting in trouble.
The book pulls no punches – it tells both the highs (travel, music, friendship, family) and the lows (nights in jail, violence, occasional drugs, emotional messes) of the punk life. Both are told with clarity and wit, making empathizing not only easy but necessary. When the TC get tricked into making themselves look like violent good-for-nothings on TV, it’s hard not to be offended with them. It was a natural response, as I had become attached to the characters.
Cooper’s account of the good and the bad aspects of punk life are intensely captivating – written in a short, clipped style, the story flows relentlessly. If you make it to page 5 (her first encounter with punk music), page 146 (the end of the book) will come extremely quickly. And that’s sad, because once you’ve started reading about the multiple adventures and misadventures of the TC, you won’t want to stop – especially if you long for a life exactly like the one you’re reading about (as I do).