A history of the hey day of riot grrrl, Girls to the Front reads more like a biography of the movement, like a biography of an ex-lover on whom the author has some distance but still identifies with to a large extent. It is a loving, but not uncritical portrait of the rise of riot grrrl and its best known players. A professional (and very talented) writer, Sara Marcus includes herself only in the introduction and briefly in the epilogue. Given my own bias toward personal narratives and the every grrrl, I might have liked a little more about Sara's experiences and adventures, but I still found the book to be educational, inspiring, compelling, and enraging--in a good way.
It was really useful for me professionally and personally to get the riot grrrl backstory, but I was even more dazzled with Sara's writing.
From this quote on page 3:
...I ate my lunch alone in an empty hallway, then retreated to the school library, where I napped in a corner between the books on feminism and the emergency exit.
to this description of an early performance of Kathleen Hanna's:
Kathleen cut a fearsome figure onstage. With her pale skin, jet-black bob, and faded black T-shirt, she looked stark before she even opened her mouth. Singing, she became utterly magnetic. “Dare to do what you want!” she roared, her entire torso rising with each breath before she bore down on the next line. “Dare to be who you will!”
The "bore down" is what kills me, relating Hanna's singing to childbirth.
to bits about politics, personal and electoral. She also writes about music with great authority and nuance:
In her kiss I TASTE THE REVOLUTION
On the word, "I," Kathleen sounds like her mouth turning itself inside out, every consonant of the alphabet dissolving into that vowel.
If you want to know more about riot grrrl, take it from one who was there for part of it and who researched the hell out of the parts she missed, reading zines, listening to music and old radio shows, digging through archives, conducting interviews, and reviewing books, articles, reports and theses galore.