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« June 21, 2013

Harley Loco: A Memoir of Hard-Living, Hair, and Post-Punk, from the Middle East to the Lower East Side

Between drugs and more drugs, Rayya Elias' savior was always rock & roll
Review by Abby Johnston

Harley Loco: A Memoir of Hard Living, Hair, and Post-Punk, From the Middle East to the Lower East Side

by Rayya Elias
Viking Adult, 320 pp., $27.95

Raised in the most glamorous spheres of Aleppo, Syria, during the Sixties as the baby of a doting family, Rayya Elias ended up living one hit to the next in NYC's East Village. The fatal flaw of her memoir is her failure to fill in the gaps of that journey. The near-superstar stumbled upon promising careers as an art director at a swanky salon chain and as a New Wave bandleader, but Elias let her music and scissor-slinging fall to the wayside when she became a junkie. The book's narrow focus on drug use neither illuminates her character nor paints a proper picture of the Lower East Side, a landscape she considers integral to the storyline. Similarly, the very thing she professes as a savior – her music – remains a bland subplot compared to vivid descriptions of dilapidated shooting galleries. What could have been a compelling narrative reads like a rambling transcript from a therapist's office.

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