Viv Albertine refers to the period of her life occupied by The Slits as "punk time." Best known as the guitarist of the pioneering London band, her recent memoir Clothes, Clothes, Clothes, Music, Music, Music, Boys, Boys, Boys is indeed full of stories about the group, famously so wild they were barred from staying in the same hotels as their tourmates in The Clash. The introduction helpfully indexes the mentions of punk, preemptively taking the piss out of readers short-sighted enough to only be interested in those years. Tales of wearing a tampon as an earring while walking down King's Road to Sex, band practice with Sid Vicious, snogging Johnny Thunders, and being on the dispensing end of a blowjob gone awry with Johnny Rotten are, of course, irresistible, but the book excels in its latter half, a portrait of a rich and long life, of a woman cycling through illness, the building and dissolution of a marriage, motherhood, and back into creative production.
Last fall, I called Viv from my home in San Francisco--when I told her I was the editor of a magazine about DIY punk she asked me, "What even is punk in 2014?" Thankfully after that she let me ask the questions.
I read your book in under twenty-four hours. It was striking in its immediacy--there was very little of that specter of hindsight that poisons so many memoirs. It was like watching a life unfold, not looking back over a life lived. . . .