Crime fiction author Andrew Vachss says he and his longest-running character share a religion: revenge. The character is Burke, an unlicensed private investigator who tracks down and, um, dispatchespeople who commit sex crimes against children. Burke suffered abuse as a kid, and his mission is to protect youngsters who can't protect themselves. Vachss, meanwhile, works within the law -- in addition to being an author, he's also a lawyer who represents abused kids. Vachss retired Burke in the 2008 novel Another Life and his latest book suggests he's also retired the theme of vengeance. Heart Transplant, a graphic novel he completed with illustrator Frank Caruso and social worker Zak Mucha, takes on the issue of bullying. It's not about payback so much as giving kids as well as parents what they need to escape the dark and terrifying place bullies create. Vachss identifies this as the most crucial issue facing kids today, and three punk rock bands agree. Although Vachss himself can't be present, Grass Widow, Bar Feeders, and Lou Lou and the Guitarfish are playing the book release party for Heart Transplant to raise awareness of the issue. Bar Feeders bassist Trey Bundy, who worked with disadvantaged kids as a residential treatment counselor for a decade, says he's seen no other book that holds more truth on the subject. That's a good enough endorsement for us. Bloodthirsty Burke might not get immediate gratification, but if bullies get thrown off track, we bet he'd like the outcome. After all, living well is the best revenge.
Fri., Oct. 29, 9 p.m., 2010