"Perfect Youth" explores some neglected history of the fungus known as punk. The chapters are short, and provide a rudimentary sketch of what was happening on the punk front in specific communities at a given time (ie approximately the beginning of their scene). Places like Regina or Edmonton get a chapter with a little history of some of the bands that were around and some anecdotes and a photograph. This is what is good about this book - as I know of no other book that references these neglected places. BUT - the quality of the information is very superficial, and so many relevant facts/scenesters that would help to understand the context of the time/place are unheard. I found the layout of the book confusing - it is not organized by a chronology of events or geography or even connected personalities. The writing style/skill is very simple, like a person with a solid B+ in grade 8 English wrote report on Canadian punk, one chapter at a time.
I wanted to like this book more than I did, but truthfully it felt like a box of notes that someone shuffled into a book. It has a lot of basic facts about some of the major players, with a few tepid tales that just sound like clunker lies (and I was there for some of it!). Ultimately it felt like so much relevant information was missing, and that the author just didn't get the experience of being a part of a maligned subculture, especially in a place that was not Toronto or Vancouver. It just felt cobbled together.
Another book that focusses on the Toronto-centric roots of Canadian punk is "Treat Me Like Dirt". It is much more intensively researched and interviewed but both books left the impression that Canadian punks of that time/place were just complete jerks. This may have as much to do with the authors' perceptions of their subjects, as with the people who were interviewed. I did not find either of these books to be engaging or enjoyable reads. I loved "Please Kill Me" as it was funny, sharp, gossipy, entertaining, horrifying, with a logical chronology of events/personalities, where the flavour of the time/place/people shines through(and I understand a lot got left out of that book, too).
This book might be a good starting point for a person who wants a rough sketch of this history, who could use this information as a jumping off point to get the real stories by pursuing their own research.