Catherine "Jayne Manslaughter" Mabe's loving history of the roller derby's current female driven "by the skaters, for the skaters" incarnation is visually appealing--full of photographs, images of memorabilia, and other tidbits. The first two chapters offer a brief history of the roller derby, while the next four focus on today's version of the sport. She describes contemporary skaters:
"Derby dames are not just the bad girls who used to smoke in the high school bathroom; they're also the ones who ratted them out. An image of what makes a derby girl as been put forth to fans, an image resplendent with a neo-punk aesthetic." p. 89 (She goes on to say that not all roller girls fit that stereotype, though.)
The book achieves what its seeming goal was. It's a beautiful, easy-to-read (I got through it in a day of not very concentrated reading.), and a great intro for newbies and wannabes.
I'm not sure, however, that it has much more to offer those already deep in the craze than solidarity. Derby girls and aficionados will love the photos, the skater profiles, and the me-too quality of the book. (One of my favorite photos shows a skater with a "My Inner Child Is a Mean Little Fucker" sticker on her helmet.) I suspect that the more committed skaters already know most of the information presented. It has a research-lite kind of a feel. There's an index, but it's only three pages long and not very useful. While there isn't a bibliography, per se, four books are listed in the resources section, along with several websites and films (two of which I immediately added to my Netflix queue: Hell on Wheels and A&E's reality series Rollergirls.
Thanks, Susan Ash, for giving me this book as a holiday present!
I'd played in a few bands, written a few fanzines, and raised myself in the punk-rock scene, where it's a short leap from wishing you can do something to deciding you're just going to do it. Foreword by Ivanna S. Pankin p.10