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Susan Compo

Susan Compo

A surfing teen in Orange County, California, Susan Compo was betrayed by her writer’s nature when friends selected the Beach Boys’ 'In My Room' as her song. Glam and then punk rock further complicated matters, and she published a fanzine, Blank Generation, straight outta quintessentially suburban Tustin. A fleeting turn in the documentary DOA found Susan bubbling like a homecoming queen about the merits of the Sex Pistols’ Tulsa appearance.

During the 1980s and 1990s, Susan moved back and forth between LA and London, writing about music for Spin, Mojo and other magazines, as well as exploring its echoes in her fiction. She also furthered her passion for soccer - Duncan Campbell decried she "almost counts as an honorary Englishwoman as she is probably the only woman novelist in LA fully conversant with English soccer." She wrote for Match of the Day and later FourFourTwo magazine. Other pieces about various oddball subjects have appeared in the Los Angeles Times, the Independent (UK) and assorted travel and lifestyle publications.

Praise for Compo's fiction has come from Timothy Leary, Hubert Selby, Jr., Alex Cox, Henry Rollins and Pamela Des Barres but her personal favourite occurred when she read with Charles Bukowski in Long Beach, California. "I like you," he offered. "You’re a pretty girl with a dirty mind." Her books touch on the marginal line between fact and fiction. The first collection, Life After Death and Other Stories, featured a tale about a Cure fan that eventually prompted Robert Smith to fret over his fictional fate while reading the story in bed. She has taught writing - both fiction and non - at the University of Southern California and California Institute of the Arts, and is the author of WARREN OATES: A WILD LIFE (University of Kentucky). When asked if she wrote gonzo, she replied, "Never intentionally."


Life After Death and Other Stories (1990)
Malingering (1993)
Pretty Things (2001)
Warren Oates: A Wild Life (2009)

Read about 'Pretty Things'

17 articles

List of articles in the library

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The Sex Pistols: Sex Pistols: Few Waves Made During Tour Of U.S.

Report by Susan Compo, Santa Ana Register, January 1978

IT'S NOT SURPRISING that Britain's punk rockers, the Sex Pistols, found San Francisco "boring". The city that was to be the last stop on the ...

The Sex Pistols Shoot To The Top

Report by Susan Compo, Santa Ana Register, 12 June 1978

WHEN 'GOD SAVE THE QUEEN', a song by British punk-rockers the Sex Pistols, hit the top of the English charts several months ago, it was ...

Happy Mondays: Mondays, Bloody Mondays

Interview by Susan Compo, Siren, 1991

As the Happy Mondays prepare to release a live album to counteract/complement the Baby Big Head bootleg, what’s a girl with a book of post-punk ...

Lydia Lunch, Rowland S. Howard: To Thrill A Mockingbird: Lydia Lunch and Rowland Howard

Interview by Susan Compo, Siren, 1992

Lydia Lunch, currently doing the rounds with a collaborative Rowland S. Howard, is really in action Stateside, standing in opposition to the Ku Klux Klan. ...

Rowland S. Howard: Soul On Ice: Immortalizing Rowland S. Howard

Interview by Susan Compo, Option, May 1992

THE DAY I interview Rowland S. Howard, a simpatico friend of mine hears Howard and Lydia Lunch's 'Some Velvet Morning' emanating, inexplicably, from the vacant ...

Pale Saints: The Choir Invisible: Bringing Pale Saints into Focus

Interview by Susan Compo, Option, Fall 1992

THE PALEST SAINT, not unlike the prettiest star, has to be Saint Gerard Majella, an 18th Century Italian anchorite who, before his death at age ...

The Cure: Happily Ever After

Interview by Susan Compo, Spin, November 1993

After nearly 15 years as the pope of mope, the Cure's Robert Smith longs to let his hair down, watch some soccer, and read a ...

Utah Saints: Circa Now! Latter Day Techno Kids, Utah Saints

Report and Interview by Susan Compo, Option, Fall 1993

FOR A COUPLE of English guys, choosing the state of Utah as the basis for their band’s name probably had as much exotic cachet as ...

The Undertones reissues

Review by Susan Compo, MOJO, July 1994

The Undertones/Hypnotised/Positive Touch/The Sin Of Pride /The Peel Sessions Album ...

Blue Oyster Cult: Cult Classic

Review by Susan Compo, MOJO, August 1994

NERDY menace dogs this murky compilation, which sounds like it's coming from an eight-track player in a gas guzrler stuck beneath a muddy stream. ...

Julian Cope: Autogeddon

Review by Susan Compo, MOJO, August 1994

JULIAN COPE is even more twisted than his infamous mikestand. ...

Blondie In Retrospect

Retrospective by Susan Compo, MOJO, October 1994

AS NORMAN MAILER ONCE SAID, "All blondes are natural blondes." Look it up in any book of pop quotes and you'll probably find a picture ...

Blondie, Debbie Harry: Blondie: Plastic Letters, Autoamerican, The Hunter Deborah Harry: Koo Koo, Rockbird, Def Dumb And Blonde

Review by Susan Compo, MOJO, October 1994

AS NORMAN MAILER ONCE SAID, "ALL blondes are natural blondes." Look it up in any book of pop quotes and you'll probably find a picture ...

The Cramps: World of the Interiors

Interview by Susan Compo, MOJO, 1995

Parakeets, serial killer art and "flame-jobs" at the local boneyard. Yep, it’s the return of The Cramps. ...

Siouxsie & The Banshees: The Rapture

Review by Susan Compo, MOJO, February 1995

A FEW SPEED BUMPS DOWN THE TIMELINE OF rock, past the new wave of new wave and the return of baggy, and it seems the ...

Patti Smith: Early Work 1970-1979 (Plexus)

Book Review by Susan Compo, MOJO, March 1995

ROCK'S MOST evocative lines from the 1970s involved religion: "I am an anti-Christ/I am an anarchist". . . "Jesus died for somebody's sins/But not mine." ...

David Bowie: White Noise/White Sands: The Bowie Who Fell to Earth

Book Excerpt by Susan Compo, 'Earthbound' (Jawbone), October 2017

"AFTER SEEING THE extraordinary landscape of the White Sands," Nic Roeg noted, "it prompted me to think of this: strangers always see something that is ...

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