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Songs Only You Know: A Memoir

Author finds escape in the Detroit hardcore scene.


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Book Review
Songs Only You Know: A Memoir
By Sean Madigan Hoen
Soho, 376 pp., $25

Based on the synopsis alone, Songs Only You Know sounds like a terribly depressing read. In fact, it’s extremely funny. Dark and, at times, poignant for sure, but Sean Madigan Hoen, raised in Dearborn, has crafted a memoir of a childhood living with a crack-addicted father and the escape he eventually found in the Detroit hardcore scene, that raises as many laughs as it does eyebrows. To his credit, Hoen doesn’t disappear into an ocean of predictable, nihilistic prose in an attempt to be some sort of contemporary, punk rock Bukowski, as so many budding authors tapping a similar vein are apt to do. Rather, he looks back on a life battling adversity with brutal honesty and humility, and is able to see the comedy in the worst things that life has to offer. In addition, despite the darkness, his description of the local hardcore scene makes you wish you were there (if you weren’t).

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