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November 9, 2006

{     Nerd Girl Rocks Paradise City: A True Story of Faking It in Hair Metal L.A.     } Turn down that Death Cab for Cutie crap, give yourself a break from YouTube, and take off your skinny jeans. Banish the clever subtext. Forget about figuring out intricate pop culture references, and get thyself back to the good old days of hair metal, of nasty dudes in black leather, noodling and screeching without irony. All that matters is the hair, dammit. Anne Thomas Soffee has written a refreshing memoir about her underwhelming turn in the hair metal circuit. A Southern girl with an English degree from a refined school, Soffee takes off to L.A. to use her sarcastic, pissy wit to gain fame as a music journalist. What she ends up gaining is a job as an editor of workers' compensation claims (which she later loses), a noncommittal heroin-addicted boyfriend, bylines in a few crappy weekly L.A. papers, and a raging, non-stop fascination with beer and pills. While she walks the walk of the metal goddess, she sadly finds little in the way of the journalistic success she was seeking. Anyway, I’m tired of reading success stories. What about all those average people who have dreams, talent, and determination, and still get hung up on every obstacle? Soffee, a self-proclaimed nerd and something of a hard-livin’ everywoman, chronicles her search for glam fame in L.A. with occasional bitterness and occasional dreaminess. She doesn’t end up where she thought she would, but she does have some great stories, thereby making a good case for following those far-fetched dreams, even if they lead only to dive bars and skanky guys. Reading about fluffy hair and tight clothing brought a sweet nostalgic tear to this girl’s eye—just the number of times the words leather and bustier come up in this book made me think about how much pop culture has changed. As much as I love our postmodern cultural maze, all intertwined and obscure and individualistic, it felt good to go back to the days of the showboating guitar solo and the vertical hairstyle, when it was OK to be kind of a simpleton. Long live le spandex. - Written by Vikki Warner

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