Sam Lipsyte comes up with the world’s best band names. Take the one from “The Worm in Philly,” the seventh story in his new collection, “The Fun Parts.” Readers will remember the titular worm, Gary, from Lipsyte’s earlier works “Venus Drive” and “Home Land” as a thumbless drug dealer with questionable personal values. A few beats after Gary rants about “the cunning rhetoric of the soft left (he was the hard),” Lipsyte reveals the name of his band: the Annihilation of the Soft Left.
People of a certain age who went to liberal arts colleges or know people who went to liberal arts colleges or, like Lipsyte, went to Brown, probably know someone who has been or should be in a band called the Annihilation of the Soft Left. People who have worried about questions of cultural and personal authenticity and whether punk rock accomplished what we hoped it would and still feel a little silly, but also a little self-righteous, for having worried about those things. People for whom calling someone a “poseur” or a “scenester” was tantamount to character assassination. People who aspired to bohemian deviance but, through some accident of history, missed their chance.