Beauty is in the Street

In terms of aesthetics, M.C. Neeb’s new release straddles the border between high- and low-quality publishing. It’s a slim volume of prose; perfect bound and printed on what appears to be plain printer paper. The cover image appears to be a black-and-white map of Toronto, and it stretches across both covers with the book’s title scrawled across the front in a gritty font. (I am still wondering why a book about Ottawa has a map of Toronto on the cover).

The novella has a true DIY spirit to it. There were a number of typos throughout, which was somewhat disappointing, but perhaps it contributes to the sheer rawness of the book.

Neeb chucks us into a grimy punk scene in Ottawa, Ontario; crack allies, hard drugs, alcohol, punk rock and dirty sex are the norm for our narrator– a borderline crack addict in an ambient punk band called the Screaming Fish. The novella is told through the voice of our narrator as he chases his new (and somewhat reluctant) lover, Cassidy, to the East Coast. On their travels the book emulates a simplified beatnik-like story where a couple of friends take off from their ‘responsibilities’ to search out the deeper meanings of life — in this case its something like true love — and all the while they become more aware of the risks they take with their reckless lifestyle. Beauty is in the Street is the first installment of a trilogy by Neeb. It’s encouraging to read a story about troubled youth finding positive motivation in the world. (Eric Schmaltz)

Litzine, M.C. Neeb, myspace.com/mcneeb, $7

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