Harley Loco: A Memoir of Hard Living, Hair, and Post-Punk from the Middle East to the Lower East Side

Rayya Elias. Viking, $26.95 (304p) ISBN 978-0-670-78516-2
You know you’re in for a memoir of dysfunction, depression, drugs, drink, and despair when Elias declares that as a child “being bad was what I did best.” By the time she was seven, she and her family had left Syria because of increasing political and religious tensions and moved to Detroit, because of its large Arabic community, to start a new life. Elias soon discovers that there will never be a better life, for her parents were more interested in using America for what they can get from it than in Americanizing. Bullied at school and failing to fit in at home or at school, Elias remains an outsider trying to find a way into a circle of friends and into this new world; soon enough, she has rejected so much that there is a void inside her, and she starts to fill that void with drugs, sex, and punk rock, hardening herself against the pain. In this compulsively page-turning memoir of her search for herself, Elias takes us on a tour of her hell as she moves from Detroit to New York’s Lower East Side; once in New York, she sells drugs, does drugs, discovers new and more powerful drugs, falls in and out of love, becomes an award-winning hair stylist, performs with punk when she can, goes to jail, and eventually hits bottom and goes straight. Haunting and mesmerizing, Elias’s story captures powerfully the vulnerability of being an outsider and the deep yearnings to be a part of something, to fit in. (Apr.)
Reviewed on: 12/24/2012
Release date: 04/04/2013
Open Ebook - 320 pages - 978-1-101-60618-6
Paperback - 308 pages - 978-0-14-312505-1
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