“No Apocalypse: Punk, Politics & the Great American Weirdness” by Al Burian

Al Burian
Microcosm Publishing (2019)
ISBN 9781621065210
Reviewed by Skyler Boudreau for Reader Views (8/19)

“No Apocalypse: Punk, Politics & the Great American Weirdness” is a collection of writing by Al Burian, featuring essays of his that have appeared in publications such as Punk Planet, HeartattaCk Zine, and Skeleton Newspaper. These essays provide the reader with an intriguing portrait of the author’s younger self as they ponder their own perspective on some curious parts of life. With its eye-catching cover design, “No Apocalypse” will raise its audience’s eyebrows from the moment it is picked up and with every following turn of a page.

Though these writings are from years ago, Burian makes an interesting point of their relevance today when, in the introduction to this collection, he says, “The Oncoming Cataclysmic End is a deep and integral part of the American psyche” (Burian 7). He goes on to explain that “Craziness of the present moment did not spring out of nowhere. Standing on the brink of destruction is not unusual; it is the perpetual state of things” (13). Even a reader with opinions that contrast from Burian’s own will recognize a certain similarity in what he describes within people today. “No Apocalypse” is infected with a world-weariness that is somehow both exaggerated and relatable.

While the writing style in some essays comes off as dramatic for the sake of being dramatic, Burian never fails in getting a point across by the end of each piece. It’s an interesting dynamic that keeps the audience engaged. If they do not care for the writing style itself, they can still enjoy contemplating the thoughts conveyed within the essays.

The final piece, “Eternal Return,” is one that stands out among the others. It’s shorter than many of its predecessors and makes a great ending for an unusual book. In these last pages, Burian describes two separate hitchhiking experiences that he has had. The first is described in the moment of the essay, and the second is a past experience, recalled by Burian as he is dealing with the former. This essay returns to the parallels described in the beginning of “No Apocalypse,” and brings everything full circle, providing a satisfying ending for the audience.

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