Richard Hell :: I Dreamed I Was A Very Clean Tramp

Autobiographies, like most non-fiction, are tricky. Their subject matter require inherent interest -- maybe even passion -- marginalizing most audiences. The best autobiographies circumvent that demand by having a lot in common with good fiction writing: an engaging and original voice and insight that transcends the surface narrative and turns the specific into the universal.  A survivor of severe drug addiction and one of the chief architects of the New York punk scene of the 1970s, Richard Hell is a powerful enough subject to do just that. Enter I Dreamed I Was a Very Clean Tramp.

Hell, unlike a lot of the characters from that era, checked out of music almost thirty years ago, removing himself to a life as a writer. It makes sense, then, that Hell chose to focus his autobiography on the years from birth to 1984, when he quit music. It's a must-read for Hell fans, whether from his work with the Voidoids, the scant demos of his time in the Heartbreakers or in Television.

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