Titanium Punch


171 pages
ISBN 1-55022-452-2
DDC C813'.6





Ronald Charles Epstein is a Toronto-based freelance writer and published poet.


Titanium Punch operates on the theory that the future of Canadian
literature rests with young urban writers who reflect, and incorporate,
our major cities’ multicultural realities in their fiction. Its
author, Toronto prison literary instructor Yashin Blake, explores his
city’s alternative rock scene, attracting insiders and others.

Blake introduces readers to his apparent alter ego, Isaac Khan, “a
devout headbanger” and black accidental groupie. After discovering
Titanium Punch, a hot new local band, he lusts after lead singer Roxy
Finn, but winds up with her Winnipeg Métis bandmate, Titania. As he is
drawn into her “grindcore” world, he learns the inevitable life

Titanium Punch shares its “shadowy universe of underground music”
with real bands, such as Madball and Unsane. The novel’s many Toronto
references include NOW Magazine, HMV’s downtown audio superstore, and
even The Beguiling (an alternative comic-book store). Unfortunately,
nonresidents might cite this book as yet another example of
Torontocentric Canadian literature. Blake establishes literary
authenticity, but does he achieve his prized “street cred”? The case
now goes to a jury of his “headbanger” peers.

These readers look for grit and will find some here. When Isaac and his
friends “play Frisball ... at the Central Tech football field,” they
are confronted by a Vietnamese gang. A visit by Toronto and Winnipeg
police officers uncovers Titania’s criminal past. Isaac discovers that
Roxy will not go out with him because her adolescent involvement with a
black crack dealer has soured her racial attitudes.

Blake skilfully displays insider humor. When some university students
ignorantly rave about the band, the protagonist concludes that “poser
fans made the band even more legit.” Blake’s novel might find its
own poser fans.


Blake, Yashin., “Titanium Punch,” Canadian Book Review Annual Online, accessed April 17, 2024, https://cbra.library.utoronto.ca/items/show/9680.