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At a cursory glance, Rombes's compendium has the form of a dictionary, covering punk bands from the Adolescents to the Zeroes, but scratch the surface and you'll discover a profoundly weird document, where the notion of "punk" expands to include discussions of Angela Carter, Thomas Pynchon, Don DeLillo and Barry Hannah-although even Rombes (Ramones) admits the last is stretching the point. The tone veers from the academic to the confessional: "How can you hesitate about a song that has saved you more than once from the black depths you are prone to fall into?" Rombes asks in an entry concerning the British band Wire. There are several forays into the fictional, including stories about imagined versions of Patti Smith and Joey Ramone, as well as entries written by "Ephraim P. Noble," who is almost certainly a fictional alter ego. If it were touted as a definitive guide to punk culture, the dictionary's omissions would be glaring-but this is something altogether different: a personal investigation into the significance of punk rock, an attempt to inject critical studies with "a big dose of chaos and anarchy" and thereby create a compelling cultural narrative. (July)Copyright © Reed Business Information, a division of Reed Elsevier Inc. All rights reserved.