Fast Geek Reader: A Collection of Poetry and Short Fiction (Fast Geek Press) includes writing from musicians such as Karl Alvarez (ALL / Descendents), Nathen Maxwell (Flogging Molly), Zack Boddicker (Drag the River), and more traditional authors and poets with whom I'm unfamiliar.
I'll admit that, despite my BA in English, I always leaned more towards twentieth century fiction like Willa Cather or E.L. Doctorow, as poetry scares the shit out of me. I figured this would be a safe bet, considering the number of musicians involved. There was also the possibility that there'd be some awful Jewel-like poetry I could slag left and right.
I'm happy to say that the slim volume is a mix of poetry and prose that mostly succeeds. The prose is a little labored, save for Boddicker's "Equipment," which is a good take on the "prodigal son returneth" genre. The poetry is more enjoyable, such as the arresting opening stanza to Vincent Fasano's "Stones":
"can't listen to the Stones anymore
without picturing my friends killing
themselves over the phone"
Now that is something to grab your attention and keep you reading. The work that grabbed me most was Alvarez's. "Crying" and "Problems at the Starlight" are straightforward tales of touring, and the phrasing is the most lyrical of all the poetry in Fast Geek Reader. The turns of phrase Alvarez works in, however, are what bring something more to his stories. "Problems at the Starlight" has "raise your glass with me to our den of iniquity," which certainly speaks to anyone who's ever spent enough time at a bar or club to refer to it as their home away from home.
The book comes with a download code, good for a collection of music and spoken word from the authors featured in the book. It's similar to Fast Geek's Pretend You Can Reab compilation series, an audio zine that supports and presents new and upcoming bands, spoken word artists and musicians. The most recent edition, volume 5, features a track from Rooftop Vigilantes.