Hunger Makes Me a Modern Girl
From a leader of feminist punk music at the dawn of the riot-grrrl era, a candid and deeply personal look at life in rock and roll. Before Carrie Brownstein codeveloped and starred in the wildly popular TV comedy Portlandia, she was already an icon to young women for her role as a musician in the feminist punk band Sleater-Kinney. The band was a key part of the early riot- grrrl and indie rock scenes in the Pacific Northwest, known for their prodigious guitar shredding and their leftist lyrics against war, traditionalism, and gender roles.Hunger Makes Me a Modern Girl is the deeply personal and revealing narrative of Brownstein's life in music, from ardent fan to pioneering female guitarist to comedic performer and luminary in the independent rock world. Though Brownstein struggled against the music industry's sexist double standards, by 2006 she was the only woman to earn a spot on Rolling Stone readers' list of the "25 Most Underrated Guitarists of All-Time." This book intimately captures what it feels like to be a young woman in a rock-and-roll band, from her days at the dawn of the underground feminist punk-rock movement that would define music and pop culture in the 1990s through today.

Hunger Makes Me a Modern Girl Details

TitleHunger Makes Me a Modern Girl
Author
LanguageEnglish
ReleaseOct 27th, 2015
PublisherRiverhead Books
ISBN-139781594486630
Rating
GenreNonfiction, Autobiography, Memoir, Music, Feminism, Biography

Hunger Makes Me a Modern Girl Review

  • Sharon
    January 1, 1970
    This isn't a book for readers looking for voyeuristic thrills from their memoirs. It's a passable music memoir, certainly of interest to all the Sleater-Kinney fans out there, but even they will be disappointed (as I was) by a book that feels too thin.It takes a while for this work to hit its stride. The first third is spent recounting Brownstein's early years. This is the least compelling section of the memoir, poorly paced and thin. There's little depth to the content, and it is horrifically o This isn't a book for readers looking for voyeuristic thrills from their memoirs. It's a passable music memoir, certainly of interest to all the Sleater-Kinney fans out there, but even they will be disappointed (as I was) by a book that feels too thin.It takes a while for this work to hit its stride. The first third is spent recounting Brownstein's early years. This is the least compelling section of the memoir, poorly paced and thin. There's little depth to the content, and it is horrifically overwritten. Throughout this memoir, its evident that Brownstein has a thesaurus-like knowledge of the English language without any real mastery of it. The book is riddled with big words that lack any real punch because they're the norm, and this is most evident as Brownstein talks about her childhood.Things get better once SK comes into the picture, as that's really what this book is--not the memoir of Carrie Brownstein, but the memoir of Sleater-Kinney. Even then, it feels more like biography than memoir. Sure, we have a somewhat self-deprecating account of Brownstein's struggles with depression and anxiety, but those feel almost rote. You're not going to learn much new about SK in this book. At times, I felt like I was reading the SK wikipedia page with minor edits to show Brownstein's perspective.There is some insight into the artistic workings of SK, but not a lot. Each album has its own chapter, where we learn about the songwriting and recording process, along with a few anecdotes about the associated tours. Sometimes individual songs are mentioned--notably missing is 'Modern Girl', a song whose lyrics gave this book their title, but somehow didn't warrant a single sentence in the meat of the book itself.There is little detail of Brownstein's life after SK broke up and before they got back together. There's a single mention of Portlandia, and a chapter detailing her work with Portland's animal shelters. The book closes with a brief discussion about SK's most recent tour and album.I'm a fan of Carrie Brownstein and of Sleater-Kinney, and I was disappointed. It's a quick, at times interesting read, but it doesn't feel rewarding. If you're into Brownstein's work, stick to her music and work on Portlandia. She's a much better musician and comedian than she is a memoirist
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  • Diane
    January 1, 1970
    What a fantastic music memoir! Carrie Brownstein writes beautifully about her development as an artist and how she became a successful musician. Carrie grew up in the suburbs of Seattle, Washington, and she started playing the guitar at a young age. She says she was an anxious and melodramatic child, but she loved to perform. In high school she started playing with bands, and eventually formed Sleater-Kinney, which Time magazine once described as America's best rock band. The book covers Carrie' What a fantastic music memoir! Carrie Brownstein writes beautifully about her development as an artist and how she became a successful musician. Carrie grew up in the suburbs of Seattle, Washington, and she started playing the guitar at a young age. She says she was an anxious and melodramatic child, but she loved to perform. In high school she started playing with bands, and eventually formed Sleater-Kinney, which Time magazine once described as America's best rock band. The book covers Carrie's growth as a musician and her experiences with Sleater-Kinney. One of the most memorable stories is that Carrie was romantically involved with singer Corin Tucker, and there was an awkward phone call from Carrie's father when a national magazine published news of their relationship after they had already broken up.I didn't know how to be so entwined with someone: in a band, in a relationship, in the same apartment. Selfishly, naively, I wanted nothing to change. I wanted to still be close to Corin, for there to be continued trust and joy and for the music to be an extension of those very things. In reality, it would be much more brutal and heartbreaking.There were also some good sections on how frustrating it was to be labeled as a "girl band," and on how often reporters would ask about it.This was the same time as the Spice Girls and "Girl Power." We knew there was a version of feminism that was being dumbed down and marketed, sloganized, and diminished. We wanted to draw deeper, more divisive lines. We wanted to separate ourselves from anything benign or pretty ...We were never trying to deny our femaleness. Instead, we wanted to expand the notion of what it means to be female. The notion of "female" should be so sprawling and complex that it becomes divorced from gender itself. We were considered a female band before we became merely a band.The prose in this memoir is striking, and I was not surprised when Carrie mentioned she had considered getting a Master of Fine Arts degree — she is a lovely writer. The sections that were most moving were when she described her strained relationship with her parents, and her frustrations about her various illnesses on tour (she had severe allergic reactions, and once she even suffered a shingles outbreak). If you are a Sleater-Kinney fan, or if you like punk rock or riot grrrl music, you will probably enjoy this book. Her stories reminded me of how much fun it was to be a young adult in the 1990s, in part because of the great music we shared. However, if you picked up this book hoping for some behind-the-scenes stories about the TV show "Portlandia," you will be disappointed because it's barely mentioned. This book is more about Carrie's coming of age and is focused on her musicianship. I listened to this on audio, and at the end there was a bonus interview with Carrie, in which she says that she never could have successfully collaborated with Fred Armisen on Portlandia if she hadn't first learned how to be a musician and work with other artists. This was an enjoyable and insightful read, and I highly recommend it to music fans.Favorite Quotes"My story starts with me as a fan. And to be a fan is to know that loving trumps being beloved. All the affection I poured into bands, into films, into actors and musicians, was about me and about my friends. Once, in high school, I went to see the B-52s. I pressed myself against the barrier until bruises darkened my ribs, thrilled to watch Kate Pierson drink from a water bottle, only to have my best friend tell me that to her the concert wasn't about the band — it was about us, it was about the fact that we were there together, that the music itself was secondary to our world, merely something that colored it, spoke to it. That's why all those records from high school sound so good. It's not that the songs were better — it's that we were listening to them with our friends, drunk for the first time on liqueurs, touching sweaty palms, staring for hours at a poster on the wall, not grossed out by carpet or dirt or crumpled, oily bedsheets. These songs and albums were the best ones because of how huge adolescence felt then, and how nostalgia recasts it now.""Everyone who plays music needs to have a moment that ignites and inspires them, calls them into the world of sound and urges them to make it. And I suppose this form of witness could happen aurally; perhaps it's as easy as hearing an Andy Gill riff or a Kim Gordon cadence and knowing intuitively how that all works. Then you form those sounds yourself, with your own hands and your own voice. Or maybe you see it on a video, in footage of a musician who finally translates and unlocks what you thought was a mystery. For me, however, I needed to be there ... I needed to press myself up against small stages, risking crushed toes, bruised sides, and the unpredictable undulation of the pit, just so I could get a glimpse of who I wanted to be.""In those years I was in awe of the bravery I saw around me. I never quite felt brave myself then, but I watched a lot of fearless things happen. I could play at bravery in the songs, I could play at sexiness or humor, long before I could actually be or embody any of those things. Sleater-Kinney allowed me to try on so many roles. I think the music I both played and listened to, along with the unmasked, confessional writing in the fanzines, really created a vocabulary for me. Sometimes the works were smart or pity, profound, poetic, and often they were really messy. But they formed a boundary and a foundation for a lot of girls who had been undone by invisibility, including myself. Girls wrote and sang about sexism and sexual assault, about shitty bosses and boyfriends, about fucking and wanting to fuck. They called out friends and relatives and bands and businesses, corporations and governments for what they felt were injustices. It was a very reactionary time.""There is the music itself, and then there is the ongoing dialogue about how it feels. The two seem to be intertwined and also inescapable. To this day, because I know no other way of being or feeling, I don't know what it's like to be a woman in a band — I have nothing else to compare it to. But I will say that I doubt in the history of rock journalism and writing any man has been asked, 'Why are you in an all-male band?'"
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  • Eve
    January 1, 1970
    “All we [Sleater-Kinney] ever wanted was just to play songs and shows that mattered to people, that mattered to us. Music that summed up the messiness of life, that mitigated that nagging fear of hopelessness, loneliness and death.” –Carrie Brownstein I’ve been floundering in my reading pool, trying to stay afloat and not sink into a reading slump. I can usually tell I’m headed that way when it takes me days to decide what to read next. I’m an unapologetic mood reader, and a very recent bout of “All we [Sleater-Kinney] ever wanted was just to play songs and shows that mattered to people, that mattered to us. Music that summed up the messiness of life, that mitigated that nagging fear of hopelessness, loneliness and death.” –Carrie Brownstein I’ve been floundering in my reading pool, trying to stay afloat and not sink into a reading slump. I can usually tell I’m headed that way when it takes me days to decide what to read next. I’m an unapologetic mood reader, and a very recent bout of shingles has made me super impatient and fastidious about reading material.I had no intention of inflicting my bad mood on this book that I’ve been looking forward to for so long. When I got an email from my library that the audiobook was finally available to download, I balked! I had two weeks to either read it or get on the long waiting list…again. The first paragraph instantly hooked me though, and I just couldn’t stop listening. “2006–I only wanted two things on tour: to slam my hand in a door and break my fingers. Then I would go home. I had shingles on the right side of my body, brought on by stress, a perfect triangle of blisters that flickered and throbbed with a stinging electricity…” Boy could I empathize! I haven’t been gardening, cleaning house or otherwise occupying my hands while listening. I’ve been lying in bed (on my side) staring at the wall. It’s so good that it’s like watching an enthralling, well-written movie. Carrie has such an articulate way of expressing herself both in interviews and not surprisingly in the written word. Though I’ve never listened to Sleater-Kinney, the band that put her on the map, I still found this book transportive and an iconic tribute to an important era.Her constant struggle to find a place and meaning in life really touched me; it made me feel like I wasn’t alone. Her personal account of her family life was also touching; who’d have thought? This was already a 4-star read, but the final part of the book shot it into 5-star status, especially the chapter about her pets and their significance in her life. This audio edition had a brief interview with the author at the end, and it only endeared her to me all the more. She is a voracious reader, and there were a few authors she mentioned both in the book and interview that I seriously need to get to sooner than later. FYI, she’s mostly into fiction. That’s kind of refreshing. So if you’re planning on reading this, you won’t be disappointed! If you think it may not be for you, you’d be surprised. Give it a go; it's hard not to be charmed by Carrie.
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  • Elizabeth
    January 1, 1970
    First, I LOVE SLEATER-KINNEY. I was so excited to read this and what an excellent read! Some might be disappointed- this is not a typical memoir. Carrie Brownstein is one cerebral lady. She tells a story that supports the idea that art saves lives. She does not dish. Not even once. Instead she explains how Sleater-Kinney saved her. She explains about tour. She shows us her regard for Corin Tucker & Janet Weiss. And she tells us how she broke up the band. The feminist punk scene & riot gr First, I LOVE SLEATER-KINNEY. I was so excited to read this and what an excellent read! Some might be disappointed- this is not a typical memoir. Carrie Brownstein is one cerebral lady. She tells a story that supports the idea that art saves lives. She does not dish. Not even once. Instead she explains how Sleater-Kinney saved her. She explains about tour. She shows us her regard for Corin Tucker & Janet Weiss. And she tells us how she broke up the band. The feminist punk scene & riot grrrl music was such a great time to live here in the Pacific Northwest. This book pays homage to that time.LOVED.
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  • Maxwell
    January 1, 1970
    At once an honest depiction of otherness and an interesting examination of the 1990's music scene--especially punk rock in the PNW. Hunger Makes Me a Modern Girl, the title coming from a Sleater-Kinney track, covers Brownstein's youth and emergence into a career in music. She's genuine, indulgent and witty. Though I know very little about the Riot grrrl scene, and I'll be honest, care very little about it, her writing was superb and infused the narrative with something quite special. I mostly kn At once an honest depiction of otherness and an interesting examination of the 1990's music scene--especially punk rock in the PNW. Hunger Makes Me a Modern Girl, the title coming from a Sleater-Kinney track, covers Brownstein's youth and emergence into a career in music. She's genuine, indulgent and witty. Though I know very little about the Riot grrrl scene, and I'll be honest, care very little about it, her writing was superb and infused the narrative with something quite special. I mostly know Brownstein from her hit comedy show Portlandia, which she never talks about in the memoir (and that's not a complaint). Instead she focuses on her music, her true passion, and all the experiences that come along with finding yourself as you find your place in the industry. Her examination of fandoms and the feeling of home that can bring were exceptionally resonant in my own experiences. And I appreciated her honesty and grit. She didn't shy away from telling it like it is while maintaining a gentleness and respect for the topics she dives into. I think if you're a particular fan of the 90's punk scene you'd be even more inspired and interested in this book. I found it to be wonderfully written, insightful and pleasant to read, but didn't take away much from it. 3.5 stars
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  • Joe Valdez
    January 1, 1970
    This 2015 memoir by Carrie Brownstein, co-founder of grunge rock trio Sleater-Kinney (and known far and wide today for the IFC sketch comedy series Portlandia she acts in, writes and created with Fred Armisen) is devoted purely to Brownstein's emergence from uncool teenager and suburban music geek in Redmond, Washington to recording and touring with what a critic at Time Magazine called in 2002 the best rock 'n' roll band in America. Rather than promoting Sleater-Kinney's import as artists or bl This 2015 memoir by Carrie Brownstein, co-founder of grunge rock trio Sleater-Kinney (and known far and wide today for the IFC sketch comedy series Portlandia she acts in, writes and created with Fred Armisen) is devoted purely to Brownstein's emergence from uncool teenager and suburban music geek in Redmond, Washington to recording and touring with what a critic at Time Magazine called in 2002 the best rock 'n' roll band in America. Rather than promoting Sleater-Kinney's import as artists or blowing smoke around her legacy, Brownstein delivers a stoic, tough and vibrantly unapologetic account of her singular experiences as a rock artist. Hunger Makes Me A Modern Girl was a treat for myself after taking ten days (though it felt longer) to finish reading Edith Wharton's The House of Mirth. I read and reviewed Brownstein's book on Super Bowl Sunday, and in addition to tending a sweet tooth I have for performing arts memoirs -- studying how artists create and hone an act and later, reconcile creativity and freedom with commercial success -- I amused myself by picturing Miss Lily Bart traveling ninety years into the future to hang out with Brownstein. Not even the most visionary science fiction author of Wharton's age could have imagined suburbs, MTV or riot grrrls by the end of the century.There are cultural trends that have emerged from my generation, Generation X, that I'm critical of, and with reason. Carrie Brownstein passes every metric for what I'd consider a hero. I could identify with a lot of her experiences, namely the pull of conformity as a knee jerk reaction to a fractured family (her mother was hospitalized for an eating disorder when Brownstein was 14 and a year later left her father, who came out of the closet to his daughter in 1998.) I grew up in the suburbs without a cause or culture and thought I was most uncool person in my postal district. I still kind of do. Brownstein's triumphs knock all those excuses down like dominoes.The biggest impact Brownstein made on me was her willingness to unsettle herself again and again throughout her life; creatively, emotionally, moving to a new city each time she could sense she was in danger of settling into a pattern; relocating to Olympia to try to get in a band, to Melbourne to record her first album and to Portland to shake loose feelings of peer pressure. These life changes were initiated regardless of what she would have to give up or how foreign her new environment was. In doing this, she strips away the pageantry of being a touring musician and instead shows how much work creativity is and how intimidating it should be.My favorite passage of the book is this one: Sleater-Kinney was nearing the decade mark of being a band. It felt like we knew our capabilities, that they were approaching something finite and fixed. And our audience knew what we were capable of, what we were going to sound like, who our label was; the people who didn't like us would continue not to like us, and the people who liked us would feel the same, ad infinitum. I could imagine that the journalists had already written their reviews, like the obituaries on deck for the nearly dead; someone could just plug in the name of our latest album and the review would be done.I didn't want to be the Mr. Rogers of music, where we could open a closet and see the same ten sweaters, and everyone would know what we were going to wear since there was a predetermined set of choices. None of us were that excited about that anymore. I don't want to know what's going to happen. As frightening as that is in real life, it's a crucial aspect in creativity. Being predictable is boring, and it's also disheartening and uninspiring. We needed a sense of rediscovery, for the audience and for ourselves.Scroll down to my incessant status updates for more awesome quotes from this book, which I highly recommend for anyone with more than a passing interest in performing arts. In all honesty, I've never heard a Sleater-Kinney single -- I was obsessed with hip hop when grunge rock was big -- or even watched a full episode of Portlandia, but don't feel a reader needs to be a Brownstein superfan in order to enjoy the book. As a postscript, she reveals what recording artists who take breaks from music at the age of 35 do with their life; they volunteer for their state humane society and inevitably adopt dogs and cats.
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  • Alex Laughlin
    January 1, 1970
    I love Carrie but this was mad overwritten.
  • Snotchocheez
    January 1, 1970
    It pains me to say I'm not a Sleater-Kinney fan. (I own exactly one of their seven albums--2002's "One Beat", given to me by a fellow "college rock"-aficionado who insisted I should be a Sleater-Kinney fan--but could only find sonic love with their anthemic "Far Away"...and nothing else). Don't know why I have had this total disconnect with them. They just always...I don't know...intimidated me? I'd read about their successes as seminal (if unwitting) pioneers of the Riot Grrrl punk rock moveme It pains me to say I'm not a Sleater-Kinney fan. (I own exactly one of their seven albums--2002's "One Beat", given to me by a fellow "college rock"-aficionado who insisted I should be a Sleater-Kinney fan--but could only find sonic love with their anthemic "Far Away"...and nothing else). Don't know why I have had this total disconnect with them. They just always...I don't know...intimidated me? I'd read about their successes as seminal (if unwitting) pioneers of the Riot Grrrl punk rock movement, and admired their tenacity from afar, but they always felt like a club I wasn't invited to. So, you ask, why did I even bother reading Hunger Makes Me a Modern Girl anyway?Okay, I admit it. I have a huge (but barely concealed) crush on Carrie Brownstein. (Actually, Corin and Janet, too. Never could 'get' their caterwauling, bass-less stylings, but their omnipresent photos in all the music rags extolling them to the heavens made me swoon. I so wanted to share my friends' love, and outwardly pretended to when accompanying them to a S-K gig in LA in 2003, but only went to secretly entertain my crush...and watch the Jon Spencer Blues Explosion, their opening act.) Eight years later, way after Sleater-Kinney disbanded, I was floored to discover Carrie Brownstein the sketch comedienne, whose Portlandia made me swoon again, this time with giddy laughter. (The most laughter elicited from sourpuss moi since SNL's mid-90s heyday.) So, yeah, it was pretty much imperative I read her memoir, despite my mixed feelings about Sleater-Kinney musically.Alas, there's nary a mention of the Portlandia era of Ms. Brownstein's life (perhaps her next memoir? Pretty please?!) What you do get, however, is an absorbing, erudite glimpse of a girl's hungered 2 decade-long voyage toward self-fulfillment and incidental musical prominence. Even the most jaded readers of a certain generation (most likely GenX-Yers) will relish and relate to her account of finding herself through music, and her subsequent joys of stardom (and woes of pressure to succeed). The book's unintended benefit for me (thanks to its timing with Sleater-Kinney's return from their looong hiatus): I feel like I'm finally invited to the club, and can better appreciate what one influential critic once deemed "The Best Rock Band in America". (And the pictures are super-yummy, too!)
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  • Lisa
    January 1, 1970
    Terrific: sharp, smart, introspective, complex, funny, and sad. What you (I) want in a music memoir—a little creative process, a little zeitgeist of the times, a lot of self-awareness without too much self-indulgence. I guess it shouldn't be a surprise that Brownstein can really write, but it made me happy. Real review to follow.
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  • Barbara
    January 1, 1970
    Many people probably know Carrie Brownstein best as an actress on the TV sketch-comedy show "Portlandia." Prior to starring in this hit show, however, Brownstein was (and is) a successful guitarist and singer in the feminist punk rock band Sleater-Kinney, which emerged from the Pacific Northwest region that spawned a slew of alternative rock bands.In this memoir, Brownstein reveals a love of performing that began in childhood, when she would regale family gatherings with her acting and singing. Many people probably know Carrie Brownstein best as an actress on the TV sketch-comedy show "Portlandia." Prior to starring in this hit show, however, Brownstein was (and is) a successful guitarist and singer in the feminist punk rock band Sleater-Kinney, which emerged from the Pacific Northwest region that spawned a slew of alternative rock bands.In this memoir, Brownstein reveals a love of performing that began in childhood, when she would regale family gatherings with her acting and singing. Brownstein goes on to unveil aspects of her formative youth, her mother's anorexia and abandonment of the family, her father's coming-out when she was a young adult, her love of music, her problems settling into college life, and the longing for closeness that seemed to propel much of her behavior and friendships. Though she reveals few names Brownstein mentions relationships with various women and the difficulty of maintaining a romance while touring for months at a time.Brownstein describes the formation of Sleater-Kinney, writing the songs, and coordinating the guitar and drum music. She talks about her need to connect with the audience and release her inner anguish through the songs, which tend to be somewhat raw and strident. Much of the book is about recording Sleater-Kinney's albums and the tours that followed each release. The tours were grueling, difficult, and done on the cheap. The band members generally drove to each venue in their cramped van, loaded and unloaded their own equipment, performed (and did photo shoots) in odd thrift store clothes, and slept crowded together on people's floors. The long drives were tedious, the food was bad, there was some tension among the bandmates, and - worst of all - Brownstein often became ill. At one time or another she developed incapacitating back pain, shingles, and severe allergies. It wasn't easy being a feminist rock group during Sleater-Kinney's original run (1994-2006). Though the band garnered critical and popular acclaim it nevertheless experienced the condescending attitude directed at 'all girl bands', which Brownstein demonstrates with blurbs from music critics - some of whom were trying to be complimentary.Brownstein talks about numerous punk/grunge/alternative bands that contributed to the music scene of the 1990's and 2000's, some of which - like Nirvana and Pearl Jam - came to be very well known. Moreover, Brownstein's book can almost serve as a primer on the 'business' aspect of running a small band: how to choose bandmates, organize a tour, pick an agent, manager, producer, PR person, and so on. When Sleater-Kinney went on hiatus in 2006 Brownstein adopted two cats and two dogs for companionship (there's a dreadful anecdote in this section) and pursued other interests - including joining the show "Portlandia." The band began recording again in 2014. Brownstein seems to be very honest in this book, detailing her successes as well as her problems and occasional bad behavior. She comes across as a talented, intelligent, funny woman and I enjoyed the book, which I'd recommend to anyone who enjoys an interesting memoir.You can follow my reviews at http://reviewsbybarbsaffer.blogspot.com/
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  • Jenny (Reading Envy)
    January 1, 1970
    I actually am not overly familiar with the band Sleater Kinney. Look, I grew up in the northwest in the 90s but because I was overly sheltered and only "allowed" to listen to Christian music, the most daring I got was sneaking a listen to Z100 or secretly borrowing Ani DiFranco and Lilith Fair level music from friends. Sleater Kinney is more a product of the grunge-riot-grrrl bands that would have been more on the periphery as it was, and I am full of sorrow to say I lack any personal experience I actually am not overly familiar with the band Sleater Kinney. Look, I grew up in the northwest in the 90s but because I was overly sheltered and only "allowed" to listen to Christian music, the most daring I got was sneaking a listen to Z100 or secretly borrowing Ani DiFranco and Lilith Fair level music from friends. Sleater Kinney is more a product of the grunge-riot-grrrl bands that would have been more on the periphery as it was, and I am full of sorrow to say I lack any personal experience with the music when it was such a significant thing. Woe, woe is me.Still, I loved listening to Carrie talk about her personal journey and more about her band's development and struggles. If you come into this book expecting to hear about Portlandia, you won't at all. This is about Carrie the musician. I was pleasantly surprised by her very literary tone. It was bizarre that she kept mentioning Miranda July near the end, since she was the author and narrator of the last audiobook I finished. If you listen to the audio, the Q&A at the end is great, because she talks about favorite authors, books, bands, etc.This is a long quote, which I transcribed, but I wanted an example of what she is able to capture about this era in music:“The noise they made in Heavens to Betsy was vicious and strange. It completely changed ones notion of what it meant to be powerful on stage. It was not about strength in numbers, nor in size. It had nothing to do with volume; it was about surprise. It was about knowing you were going to be underestimated by everyone, and then punishing them for those very thoughts…. When you’re part of an early moment, like [Corin] was with Riot Girl, where she had to create a space for herself and for her audience, where every show felt like a statement, where before you could play and sing you had to construct a room, one you’d be respected in, wouldn’t get hurt in, a space that allowed for or even acknowledged stories that hadn’t been told before, about sexual assault, sexism, homophobia and racism, and then musically you have to tear that very space down. There’s not a lot of room for joking around. There’s a direness in the construction of safety, in the telling of theretofore untold stories. I was really intimidated by those Heavens to Betsy shows. I thought, 'These people are so cool and so not funny.' I knew not to kid around or make some crass, sarcastic comment because, well, these people will fuck you up. Heavens to Betsy came across as the most serious of their peers. You stood up, you listened, and you were quiet. They were like really loud librarians. And as the audience, you’d better shut the hell up because you’re in the library of rock right now.”Okay the first thing that stood out was the really loud librarians comment, obviously, but I also am so intrigued by the idea of a band where everyone would stand around in silence and listen really intently. Brainy, political stuff. Do we have anything like this now? Certainly not in the mainstream.And of course, a description of the unique nature of the northwest and its impact on music in that era. “Portland in the 90s… still felt like a place people came to disappear. You can feel the heaviness in the music from that era. The sadness in Nirvana, MudHoney, Cracker Bash, The Wipers, who are from earlier years.The sounds embody the musical equivalent of getting washed up on a beach somewhere. You can feel at the mercy of your surroundings in the northwest, subsisting on dreariness until even your internal landscape feels soggy. It’s depressing, and before the money came in, before the buildings started to reflect the bright ideas and optimism, that sadness was reflected back much more poignantly."Sleater Kinney broke up for a while but it sounded like they were back together and tentatively working on some songs when this book went to print. ETA: They have performed and I even found a full concert in YouTube from NPR.
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  • Jenna
    January 1, 1970
    I'm never often enough left to my own devices these days - not nearly as often as my taste would dictate. However, when ever I AM left to my own devices, I'm apt to binge watch Portlandia, revisit the Sleater--Kinney Spotify and You Tube catalog, reminisce about my grungy, nascent feminist, Oregonian youth by reading wonderful books like Sara Marcus's "Girls to the Front" and watching great documentaries like "The Punk Singer," both about Kathleen Hanna and the Riot Grrl movement. I love that th I'm never often enough left to my own devices these days - not nearly as often as my taste would dictate. However, when ever I AM left to my own devices, I'm apt to binge watch Portlandia, revisit the Sleater--Kinney Spotify and You Tube catalog, reminisce about my grungy, nascent feminist, Oregonian youth by reading wonderful books like Sara Marcus's "Girls to the Front" and watching great documentaries like "The Punk Singer," both about Kathleen Hanna and the Riot Grrl movement. I love that these are the memories of my emerging adulthood, that people like Carrie Brownstein and Kurt Cobain are my dreamboats, and I'm super grateful that I'm not even a tiny bit younger than I am, so hard do I identify with my squarely-centered-in-Gen-X, paper-snipping, zine-assembling, postage-applying, pen-palling, mix tape-making, map-and-pay-phone-using, mail-ordering, record and tape bin-digging, card-catalog-employing roots.We were among the final batch of folks who got to do such things - who had to get so handsy and experimental with exploring toward our adult identities and identifying relevant people, places, artifacts, and information. Just as artisanal craftsmanship is trendy today in food and such, identity-crafting itself used to be a time-consuming artisanal process - one that was liberated by the virtue of not knowing what we didn't know: a lost luxury, these days.As much as I love my iDevices and whatnot today, I'm entirely unsure how I would have matured into anything remotely like myself if I'd had them at hand back then. The process was the product - a sentiment that can also describe S-K's music and journey, as described by Brownstein in this well crafted memoir. This is definitely an insider's book: perhaps the most useful thing I can say about it is that you're the right audience for it if you immediately thought you might be, as soon as you saw it, without reading any jacket copy or anything further about it. And if you harbor any interest in S-K, Riot Grrl, and the musical and/or Pacific NW scene of the 90s and early 00s. And, if you identify at all with what I've described previously about trying to grow yourself up in a somewhat countercultural and feminist fashion, unaided by Apple, between the mid/late 70s and that time. Brownstein describes this so much more poetically than I can.I'm hardly objective when it comes to Brownstein. I think she and Fred Armisen are geniuses. I could watch them take out the trash, and I'd give them five stars for it. I always thought she was the coolest, intriguing member of S-K, and I still think she's beautiful. Despite my prejudice, I think I can honestly declare this an exceptionally pure and often painfully honest memoir. More than many books of this type, it seems to convey Brownstein's true voice and experience. There are no tropes and nothing remotely ghosty. She is unafraid to portray herself unflatteringly, with flaws as flip sides of gifts, but nor does she exaggerate for effect or glamorize the unglam. Her fans will be unsurprised to hear that the writing is elegant, perceptive, observant, careful, thoughtful (great vocabulary!). She is clearly as intelligent as you'd hope: her thinking is sophisticated, in turns keenly analytical and esoteric/broadly conceptual. She demonstrates, of course, both imagination and humor. Basically, she achieves the feat of sympathetically - without being even a bit insufferable - showing what it's like to have a sensitive genius pioneering artist brain, warts and all. I'm more objective when it comes to S-K's music, which I tend to appreciate and respect more than actually enjoy, with some notable exceptions. (Consolingly, according to Brownstein, this is right on target with the goals of their project!) This book did a great job of helping me understand the significance of their sound and musical approach, both as a band and in the context of the era/movement, and get more out of a listen. The book also offers a fascinating look at interpersonal, dysfunctional-band-family dynamics and the horrors of low-budget/no-budget touring, or touring generally. But, it's also a book about passion generally - how it alternately drives and rends one.What else? There are beautiful passages about loneliness and attempting to connect to others vis-a-vis listening to or performing music or adulating musical stars or celebrities generally. Great passages about pre-gentrified Portland and cities generally, and how the meaning and signifiers of being a real, great city have changed.And, as a bonus - Eddie Vedder turns out to be as nice a guy as you thought he'd be, as you'd hoped. Nicer!And can you believe some douchey Oberlin guys unknowingly threw a shy, gangly, pre-mega-famous Jack White out of a party? I myself went to a little Midwestern liberal arts school so - yeah, I can.So there's some fun little bits of insider music scene stuff too - there's enough - but nothing gossipy or malicious. The book is more than that. So: recommended! All Hands On [This Good] One! It's Rock 'n Roll Fun!
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  • Jason Koivu
    January 1, 1970
    Way more serious and far less funny than I expected. Also, very little about Portlandia. One sentence to be precise.But that's okay! Having loved Sleater-Kinney and collected 7"s from that band and her prior, Excuse 17, back in the 90s, I probably would've read this book anyway. I'm always ready to hear more stories about riot grrrl and Olympia!Back then her S-K bandmate Corin Tucker was the one I gave a shit about. I'd fallen in love with Tucker's voice from her previous band, Heavens To Betsy. Way more serious and far less funny than I expected. Also, very little about Portlandia. One sentence to be precise.But that's okay! Having loved Sleater-Kinney and collected 7"s from that band and her prior, Excuse 17, back in the 90s, I probably would've read this book anyway. I'm always ready to hear more stories about riot grrrl and Olympia!Back then her S-K bandmate Corin Tucker was the one I gave a shit about. I'd fallen in love with Tucker's voice from her previous band, Heavens To Betsy. The tremulous tone yet strident thrust of her borderline manic singing filled each song with a dangerous urgency. You felt like at any moment, this was a person who might come spectacularly unhinged and, emotionally or physically, you could be caught in the crossfire.There is plenty about Tucker in Carrie Brownstein's Hunger Makes Me a Modern Girl, but that's the thing, this is Brownstein's book. It's about her journey, and wow, it turned out to be a hell of a ride! Without giving away too much, she endured a youth that could easily have turned her into a societal nightmare, another soul damaged by upbringing that might have continued the cycle and spread the negative over others. Instead, she found a niche and fought for it. She became a success in one chosen field (music), then another (acting), and now she's succeeded as an author, too. That's determination!
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  • Mariel
    January 1, 1970
    I felt like no one was really looking out for me, that I was marginal and incidental. I compensated by being spongelike, impressionable, and available to whatever and who whoever provided the most comfort, the most sense of belonging. I was learning two sets of skills simultaneously: adaptation- linguistic and aesthetic- in order to fit in, but also, how to survive on my own.There was an imaginary listener who would find the pink, gold, faberge and fragile crucify yourself eggs in your soundscap I felt like no one was really looking out for me, that I was marginal and incidental. I compensated by being spongelike, impressionable, and available to whatever and who whoever provided the most comfort, the most sense of belonging. I was learning two sets of skills simultaneously: adaptation- linguistic and aesthetic- in order to fit in, but also, how to survive on my own.There was an imaginary listener who would find the pink, gold, faberge and fragile crucify yourself eggs in your soundscapes. Sleater-Kinney’s collaborator John Goodmanson named her Jenny. He insisted that they give Jenny something, for her, on her headphones. I really loved this. I always thought listening to your favorite music on headphones instead of stereo was journeying to the favorite dream after it has been raining. Closer bubbles newly to the surface (blaring on the car radio is my absolute favorite, though. It feels like I might be going there in body this time). I love that Sleater-Kinney named their song “Jenny” for this imaginary listener. She’s totally real, awake on headphones dreamer Jenny. I’ve heard that before about finding that person to speak to/for when on stage. A way to make stories real, a Never-ending story wombed in a Tinkerbell belief moral to hold back the loneliness. Sometimes it is a guilt ghost haunting, others it is a recurring suspicion like you could be someone other than you are. Listeners, characters in a story, big ear bodies and Helen Keller’s sole souls. Carrie Brownstein is all of them enough to satisfy my truths. I was relieved that music had done exactly what I had always wanted it to do, which was turn me into someone else.She returns a lot to when she was a starving to be seen fan, and when it is her face the human who might know where they have been. Her’s where they have been, also the no one is ever going to be make that whole. I have a lot of “is this all there is?” fears and sometimes I am blessed enough to feel like all the bad times are going to go away sometimes. It is an out of self, in yourself that you can live with. Carrie Brownstein says this in ‘Hunger’. I have no idea how to apply this all the time so you never feel that sickness (Brownstein probably doesn’t either). Tour broke her back, topsy-turvy band-mates that have your back. When they aren’t always going to be there for you. Be your own mountain sherpa and best friend in a sea of thousands of fans who most assuredly understood just like you understood when reading James Baldwin and Carson McCullers. Brownstein’s book is one of those good times when it feels worth it. There’s no way around the back to the alone in that way but there she is chasing that familiar hungering peace, the lift, the alive. This stampede of ravenous spirit animals doesn’t stampede, I don’t know if it is by some grace or what, but I feel unscathed like those times when the song lasts. I couldn’t say for sure why that one night on tour Carrie punched herself into a truth marionette. I’m fascinated with what she wrote about how she and band-mate Corin wrote songs to get back to being friends after they broke up. How singing parts on the other person’s ground brought them back. I’m betting that time has a lot to do with turning back around. The shame and miserable places have their time and then something else gets a chance. That must be why a song that saved your life can still leave you alone helplessly crying on your bathroom floor. I’m fascinated a lot with their method of letting that happen in their living in music (one time Carrie thinks that she and drummer Janet pushed Corin too hard to get there when she didn’t want to). I could have read a whole book on any of the slips of her life. The goofy Carrie sitting on the couch of Lauren from 7 Year Bitch. They are larger than life and they are looking for a guitarist. She’s auditioning to be in their band. She talks too much, she makes comparisons to her guitar virtuosoness to John Frusciante (I used to carry a photo of him in my wallet when I was young. I pulled it out for comfort when cast down at work). Those times in your life when you hear yourself talking like a flesh and blood voice recording. I know that persona is a big part of the stage lights. I really loved that Carrie’s is of a by the teeth. I am so familiar with this screw your eyes shut, still feel awkward awful but do it anyway. I wish I remembered that others must be like this too when I feel so bad about that. That’s the thing about other people inhabited space and the space that’s just you. It can feel impossible to bridge. I loved a lot about this book and that is what I loved the most. I wanted to hug her or just keep on reading about this person who pee danced on the grave of her chances to be in that band with an overly personal letter. I could have read about her post Sleater-Kinney days with hundreds of volunteer hours in depression therapy for a dog shelter. I’ve been reading a lot of those dog shelter biographies these days (I’m going to adopt another dog soon) and I got a kick that Brownstein herself wrote those for Portland dog shelters. When her best friend, the cat Hector, is murdered by her dog family and the living cat Lyle doesn’t give one of those understanding animal eyes. Her back pain and severe allergic reactions. Brutal life on tour. Her is it going to be all worth it? Carrie’s mother is disappearing into her body dysmorphia. Behind rehab doors. My impression of eating disorders is like a culture. I’ve read that internet forums for anorexia are password protected to prevent triggers, that just reading about tips to be good at it can cause a relapse. Was it Carrie then or Carrie now who wondered if her mother was missing the anorexic's lifestyle straight-jacket? I related big time to Carrie when her mom befriends a girl her daughter’s age there and they are having the relationship they don’t have. My mom positively doted on a little blonde girl she met in rehab. You know how sometimes it is consoling to have proof instead of generalizations that other people experience what you do? You know that someone must have been through the same thing, but it is a lot less lonely when it comes back like it was shared. I could have read anything Carrie did. I guess time let me have it now. If there's something good at work and good things come when you need them then this book is that for me. I liked so much that she writes about the books she was reading (many of my own favorites) and music she was listening to. Carrie Brownstein would totally get what it is like to read the right book.It was an extreme way to start, but I learned later on how hard it can become to unsettle yourself, to trip yourself up, and I think that’s a good place to write from. It’s important to undermine yourself and create a level of difficulty so the work doesn’t come too easily. The more comfortable you get, the more money you earn, the more successful you are, the harder it is to create situations where you have to prove yourself and make yourself not just want it, but need it. The stakes should always feel high.
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  • Jill
    January 1, 1970
    "Riot grrrl is not for girls like me," she thought wistfully, confidently, behind layers of black lipstick and pale foundation, blinking thickly lined eyes, retreating to the safety of Marilyn Manson and Inkubus Sukkubus; Lacuna Coil and Videodrone. The righteously angry, thrashing punk; the seemingly-false claims of camaraderie -- none of it sat quite right. She was alternative, she hated all that mainstream bullshit, but she hated it as a goth girl -- she belonged in the spiderwebby dark.I sti "Riot grrrl is not for girls like me," she thought wistfully, confidently, behind layers of black lipstick and pale foundation, blinking thickly lined eyes, retreating to the safety of Marilyn Manson and Inkubus Sukkubus; Lacuna Coil and Videodrone. The righteously angry, thrashing punk; the seemingly-false claims of camaraderie -- none of it sat quite right. She was alternative, she hated all that mainstream bullshit, but she hated it as a goth girl -- she belonged in the spiderwebby dark.I still feel like I belong there.I mean, I don't dress in black every day anymore --- but when I walk into a goth or rock show or event, my heart breathes a sigh of relief: I'm home. These are my people. The act of being there is enough: we're safe, now.Riot grrrl shows, and the contemporary descendants thereof, terrify me.I'm not a huge fan of the music. The philosophy seems far too cool, far too intelligent, for the likes of lil ole emotional me. These people have fought so hard, have done so much -- and I know. The whole point is that all girls belong, GIRLS TO THE FRONT!, and I'd love to believe it, I'd love to love the music that proves it ---- but I don't. I'm a goth girl; none of this feels safe to me.-----I know Carrie Brownstein from Portlandia. I think she is witty and smart and hilarious. "Whisker Patrol" gets stuck in my head more often than I'd like to admit, but that's about the extent of my Carrie-Brownstein musical knowledge. This book, however, doesn't mention how she met Fred Armisen or what goes through her head when creating characters --- it's a memoir about music, and specifically, about her time in Sleater-Kinney.Brownstein collects -- haphazardly, but exceptionally engagingly -- anecdotes and feelings and inspirations of the years before and during Sleater-Kinney's rise and success. Each album is given the expansion treatment, full of facts and tidbits that fans must be fucking salivating over. The relationship between band members is laid bare. The dark parts of recording, touring, and trying to figure out what the hell they're trying to accomplish -- all here. A veritable feast for those people who died of excitement when the band announced their reunion last year.I don't think I have ever heard a Sleater-Kinney song.I mean maybe one, but I wouldn't recognize it, and it hasn't stuck with me.I'm not a riot grrrl. I'm not a S-K fan. I'm only cursorily attached to Carrie Brownstein. So what the hell am I doing reading this?Ostensibly, the book is filled with facts: things that really happened, in varying order. It is disconnected and confusing, particularly at the beginning -- the timeline jumps from kindergarten to the height of Sleater-Kinney's success in a paragraph. Somehow this is not at all frustrating. It's stream-of-consciousness when stream-of-consciousness actually works -- you follow a train of thought, but you actually follow it. Sometimes the leaps are strange, but they all have clear links to what comes before and after. Everything matters; everything fits together in the end.But these pages are not about facts, and nor are they about a successful band's journey -- or not really, anyway. They're about things oh so much more universal.About crisis: the feeling that there is nothing left to hold to, that you have exhausted yourself, that there is nowhere to go but straight.About family: the people we belong to, accidentally, and the people we cling to, desperately, and claim as our own.About creativity: that nebulous fucking struggle we all have, in our ways -- what are we meant to put into the world, and how can we best express it?About community: the homes we build in physical and emotional space, the hope that when you reach out someone will hold your hand, the fear when there is nothing there.About fear: when you've made it and when you haven't -- what's left?About Carrie: a woman who I feel has much more to offer than a few songs or a few sketches; a woman who says her piece candidly but humbly, who articulates her ideas beautifully and with so much left to say.There are things hidden, things eschewed, things left quiet.And fingers twist in your side: who'll be the one to say them?-----I have no burning desire to go listen to every one of Sleater-Kinney's records,but goth girl or riot grrrl or prep athlete princess geek academic rocker, this book is ours.And I think that's what the riots are really about.
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  • Rachel Reads Ravenously
    January 1, 1970
    DNFI was listening to the audio of the book, read by the author. I have not listened to SK or watched Portlandia. I made it to about the third disc when I realized I couldn't stand this woman and didn't care about her life. I only picked this book up because it was in the GR group Our Shared Shelf.What really got me, as someone who loves animals was (view spoiler)[ the fact that she so casually admitted that no one in her family loved their old dog, all it wanted was love and hugs. So the fuck DNFI was listening to the audio of the book, read by the author. I have not listened to SK or watched Portlandia. I made it to about the third disc when I realized I couldn't stand this woman and didn't care about her life. I only picked this book up because it was in the GR group Our Shared Shelf.What really got me, as someone who loves animals was (view spoiler)[ the fact that she so casually admitted that no one in her family loved their old dog, all it wanted was love and hugs. So the fucking family decided to have the dog put down, not because it was sick, but because none of them loved it anymore or wanted to bother it. This completely and utterly disgusted me and I found the more I listened, I kept going back and thinking about that (hide spoiler)] .^^^spoiler tagged is the main reason, but the more I listened, the more I resented the author and her take on life. I don't see her as someone to look up to or aspire to.
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  • Rose Behar
    January 1, 1970
    I'm a fan of Carrie Brownstein from Portlandia, as I think probably most of the readers of this book are, so I'd like to issue a general warning that there is no insight in to her comedy prowess here, nor the creation of Portlandia, nor her motivations, her fears, her beliefs-- in fact, there's barely anything in this book at all apart from an incomplete chronological list of events and the frequent repetition of the word "insular." Is my frustration evident already? I just expected so much more I'm a fan of Carrie Brownstein from Portlandia, as I think probably most of the readers of this book are, so I'd like to issue a general warning that there is no insight in to her comedy prowess here, nor the creation of Portlandia, nor her motivations, her fears, her beliefs-- in fact, there's barely anything in this book at all apart from an incomplete chronological list of events and the frequent repetition of the word "insular." Is my frustration evident already? I just expected so much more. I didn't think she'd be a great writer, I just thought she'd be more generous in giving herself to the reader. The entire book felt like she was irritated at being probed to explain herself when in fact she chose to write a memoir, the most personal and probing act of writing there is. She left out everything that could have made the book interesting in the slightest. She didn't explore or analyze any of the major relationships in her life, often glossing over important life events with a vague, lyrical comment. She barely touched on her own thoughts, declaring that she was depressed or anxious but never why or how it felt. What did she talk about was Sleater-Kinney, but without emotional depth or interpersonal intrigue it left nothing but unbearably dry details. I understand her desire for privacy, but to be frank, privacy and restraint are the natural enemies of powerful writing. I think my irritation stems mainly from the fact that I truly believe Brownstein could have done so much better.
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  • Tobi
    January 1, 1970
    I read it last night - review forthcoming - undeniable Nietzschean expression of feminist life force. Really great.
  • Julie
    January 1, 1970
    Hunger Makes Me a Modern Girl by Carrie Brownstein is a 2015 Riverhead Books publication. I must confess I know next to nothing about this artist, the rock band ‘Sleater-Kinney’ or punk music. I never fully embraced that form of music, pretty much sticking to my classic rock, blues, and jazz formats, especially during the time this band was at its peak. By the mid-nineties, I was working sixty to seventy hours a week, dealing with two pre-teens who had signed up for every sport and activity imag Hunger Makes Me a Modern Girl by Carrie Brownstein is a 2015 Riverhead Books publication. I must confess I know next to nothing about this artist, the rock band ‘Sleater-Kinney’ or punk music. I never fully embraced that form of music, pretty much sticking to my classic rock, blues, and jazz formats, especially during the time this band was at its peak. By the mid-nineties, I was working sixty to seventy hours a week, dealing with two pre-teens who had signed up for every sport and activity imaginable and meeting myself coming and going. Not only that, I live in a small town where country music is king, so I had little or no exposure to it, except for vague impressions I picked up on through books or television. Sooo- yeah, I had very little contact, even vicariously through my kids, with this scene. But, when this book was advertised at a special price the other day, I immediately thought of my Monday musical themed blog post, and purely on impulse picked it up. I must say, having read a few musical memoirs and biographies this year, by artists I am very familiar with, I have been mostly disappointed. However, I found this memoir quite refreshing. Carrie Brownstein grew up right smack in the middle of the Seattle underground music scene that spread like wildfire during the nineties, which was a little fortuitous for her. But, before all that, she was a kid who experienced way more than she should have had to for her age. Instead of whining about it all, she took it on the chin, stated it all in a rather matter of fact way, and moved on, expressing only the obvious angst, and depressed emotions anyone would in that position, at that age. But, believe me, her family was not exactly traditional. From that point on, Carrie’s life was one big adventure. She tells her story in an almost self -deprecating way sometimes, is often endearing, and impossible not to like, even when she has a few snits with bandmates or behaves childishly. I also enjoyed the slight feeling of ‘girl power’ I got from reading this book, although the artist reveals her struggles with being labeled a ‘girl band’, I still liked seeing women carve out a niche in a mostly male dominated arena.I also enjoyed the lack of boring details many rock bios feel it necessary to provide about each album, who played what, wrote what and all that. This book vividly portrays the music scene of the nineties, which was especially interesting to me, since I knew so little about it. But, not only has Carrie made a mar with her band, being recognized as one the most influentional bands of its time, Carrie's guitar moves have been duly noted, if not exhaulted in the same way as male guitarists are, but she is always trying something new, from writing, her work with the 'Portlandia' TV series, blogging and acting. Her personal life is often poignant and sad at times, but I never picked up on that ‘entitled’ vibe, or heard a boatload of resentment, finger pointing, blame gaming, name dropping, bragging, and all the rest of it that pops up all too often in memoirs. For true followers and fans of this artist, this book may or may not be what you are looking for, but for me, It was very enlightening, educational, and entertaining. I also added audio for this book which provided an interview and some music clips. The book does have a handful of black and white snapshots at the end. So far this year, this musical memoir is one of the best I've read as far as content, interest, and entertainment value. 4 stars
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  • Adam
    January 1, 1970
    Put plainly: I did not enjoy Carrie Brownstein's writing style. Not one bit. I managed to finish the book despite nearly constant eye-rolling at the incredibly overblown, try-too-hard, simile ridden, overwrought prose. The pacing was just brutal to my ear. Unfortunately for this review I have already given the book back to the library, but here are some of the kinds of sentences that appeared all over the book. (Note: these are not quotes, rather just examples of the style)*I found that music be Put plainly: I did not enjoy Carrie Brownstein's writing style. Not one bit. I managed to finish the book despite nearly constant eye-rolling at the incredibly overblown, try-too-hard, simile ridden, overwrought prose. The pacing was just brutal to my ear. Unfortunately for this review I have already given the book back to the library, but here are some of the kinds of sentences that appeared all over the book. (Note: these are not quotes, rather just examples of the style)*I found that music became my savior, my safe place, warm shelter**My childhood was full of disappointment, broken promises, a dark shroud**Going on tour became something tedious, arduous, a factory job*and on and on and on. I just could not get over the sentence structure of "The blank was blank, a blank, blank." They always came in threes, and it was 100% of the time unnecessary. She just kept using more and more words to say the same thing. Just piling them on. I read it because I was interested in the story. I'm a fan of Sleater-Kinney to a degree and I was curious about their beginnings and everything up until recently. For that, it was fine. But I did feel that toward the end she missed an opportunity to talk about working with Wild Flag. I found it odd that she talk about working on the long awaited return album "No Cities to Love," and saying that she forgot how great Janet's drumming sounded; she had worked with her with Wild Flag in between the Sleater-Kinney albums, and less than a year before the most recent one. So, that didn't make sense at all. She didn't talk about working on Portlandia, which I also found weird because that has become a big part of her life and what she is known for by people who aren't familiar with her music. I just figured that since this was a memoir, and she was covering her life (family, pets, band etc.) that she would cover that stuff too. This was much more about following Sleater-Kinney. Many of the chapters are named for an album. I would find it difficult to recommend this book, but I have talked to other people about the writing style and it didn't bother them at all. So I would say that if you are a big Sleater-Kinney fan, and are really interested, and you aren't as picky as I am, then you should go ahead and read it. Otherwise, just ignore this one.
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  • Heather Funk
    January 1, 1970
    So far, I've found Carrie to be a charismatic, compelling, authentic narrator. This book is authentic to the point that it's a little tough to read as someone who has written on a professional level, which is something I hate to say. I KNOW Carrie is a guitarist and singer, not a writer. But didn't she have an editor? There are two things that I can't get over: her compulsive use of the thesaurus, using words like "ennervated" when "sick" would do, and the HUGE gaps in narration. Like, we would So far, I've found Carrie to be a charismatic, compelling, authentic narrator. This book is authentic to the point that it's a little tough to read as someone who has written on a professional level, which is something I hate to say. I KNOW Carrie is a guitarist and singer, not a writer. But didn't she have an editor? There are two things that I can't get over: her compulsive use of the thesaurus, using words like "ennervated" when "sick" would do, and the HUGE gaps in narration. Like, we would be interested as readers to hear about your mom's leaving, which is such a formative event in your life, and about how you left your first band Excuse 17 to form Sleater Kinney. I know they're tough to confront and frankly, it IS boring to write about the things that have played such a pivotal role in your life that you think about them all the time. But as a writer, you have a duty to craft a narrative and get the reader from point A to point B. The things Carrie has to say about feminism, music, and the nature of scenes are very interesting, but often at the cost of literally telling a story. However, I'm such a fangirl and the writing is so compelling, I'm still going to finish it!
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  • Nabila Tabassum Chowdhury
    January 1, 1970
    যারা মূলধারা থেকে সরে একটু অনযরকম কিছু করতে চান তাদের লড়াইটা কখনোই সহজ নয়। এবং তিনি যদি নারী হন তবে সে লড়াই আরও বেশ খানিকটা কঠিন হয়ে পড়ে। কোনো একটি কাজের বা পেশার পূরবে 'নারী/মহিলা' শবদটা জুড়ে দিয়ে তাকে কম মান সমপনন হিসেবে পরতিপনন করার একটা সূকষম পরয়াসও যুগ যুগ ধরে চলে আসছে। যেমন মহিলা-কবি (কোনো পুরুষ কবি হলে সে শুধুই কবি, কোনো নারী কবি হলে সে মহিলা-কবি, যেন পুরোপুরি কবি হতে পারলেন না)। 'দযা ভেরি বেসট' হয়ে গেলেও কদাচিৎই এইসব টযাগ থেকে মুকতি পাওয়া সমভব হয়। একজন নারী যখন একজন পুরুষের সাথে সাফলযের যারা মূলধারা থেকে সরে একটু অন্যরকম কিছু করতে চান তাদের লড়াইটা কখনোই সহজ নয়। এবং তিনি যদি নারী হন তবে সে লড়াই আরও বেশ খানিকটা কঠিন হয়ে পড়ে। কোনো একটি কাজের বা পেশার পূর্বে 'নারী/মহিলা' শব্দটা জুড়ে দিয়ে তাকে কম মান সম্পন্ন হিসেবে প্রতিপন্ন করার একটা সূক্ষ্ম প্রয়াসও যুগ যুগ ধরে চলে আসছে। যেমন মহিলা-কবি (কোনো পুরুষ কবি হলে সে শুধুই কবি, কোনো নারী কবি হলে সে মহিলা-কবি, যেন পুরোপুরি কবি হতে পারলেন না)। 'দ্যা ভেরি বেস্ট' হয়ে গেলেও কদাচিৎই এইসব ট্যাগ থেকে মুক্তি পাওয়া সম্ভব হয়। একজন নারী যখন একজন পুরুষের সাথে সাফল্যের সমপর্যায়ে অবস্থান করেন তখন বেশিরভাগ ক্ষেত্রেই নারীটিকে যোগ্যতর থাকতে হয়, 'তর'র মাঝে থাকা সেই অতিরিক্ত যোগ্যতাটুকুর পরিমাণ কখনো সখনো দ্বিগুণ তিনগুণ দেখলেও আমি অবাক হই না। এ ধরণের স্ট্রাগল থেকে বাংলাদেশের অলিগলিতে থাকা আমার যেমন রেহাই নেই, তেমন নেই মার্কিন যুক্তরাষ্ট্রে থাকা ক্যারিরও। পুরুষরা যতই বুক ফুলিয়ে বলে বেড়ান নারীরাই নারীদের আসল শত্রু, কিন্তু এই জায়গাটিতে পৃথিবীর যেসব নারীরা মানসিক দাসত্ব খানিকটা হলেও ভাঙ্গতে পেরেছেন তাদের মাঝে সহমর্মিতার একটি সম্পর্ক রয়েছে, রয়েছে ইউনিভার্সাল সিস্টারহুডের অনুভূতি।যাই হোক, যখন এমা ওয়াটসন বুক ক্লাবে জুলাই-আগস্টের বই হিসেবে এই বইটি নির্বাচন করা হয় তখনও আমি ভাবিনি এই বইটি আমি পড়বো। বইয়ের নামের শেষে মেময়ার দেখে লেখিকার পরিচয় খুঁজতে গিয়ে দেখলাম তিনি একজন রক গায়িকা, যিনি Sleater-Kinney ব্যান্ডের সদস্য, যাদেরকে পাঙ্ক, ইন্ডি রক, Riot Grrrl জনরার সাথে ব্যান্ড বলে আখ্যায়িত করা হয় (যদিও এত সব ট্যাগ ক্যারির পছন্দ নয় তিনি শুধু 'ব্যান্ড' বলতেই আগ্রহী)। বলাই বাহুল্য আমার প্লে লিস্টে এ সমস্ত জনরার দেখা খুব কমই পাওয়া যায়। আমি Sleater-Kinney সাথেও পরিচিত নই, তাই বইটি পড়তে তেমন আগ্রহ বোধ করিনি। কিন্তু এমা ওয়াটসন বুক ক্লাবের এর আগে নির্বাচিত বইটি (The Complete Persepolis ) আমার অল-টাইম-ফেভারিট লিস্টে যুক্ত হয়ে যাওয়ায় এটিও শেষ পর্যন্ত পড়তে শুরু করি। কিছু নারীবাদী চর্বিত চর্বণ দিয়ে রিভিউ শুরু করেছি বলে ভেবে বসবেন না বইটি শুধু নারীবাদ সংক্রান্তই। এই সমস্ত ব্যাপার বইটির একটি গুরুত্বপূর্ণ অংশ হলেও পুরো বইটির বিষয়বস্তু ব্যাপক। সব দিক নিয়ে কথা বলার ইচ্ছেও নেই, দরকারও নেই। শৈশব কৈশোরেই ক্যারিকে দেখতে হয়েছে মায়ের কঠিন অসুখ ও বাড়ি ছাড়া, বাবার হঠাৎ নিজে সমকামী হিসেবে আবিষ্কার করা (যদিও পরবর্তীতে এপ্রিশিয়েট করেছেন কিন্তু প্রাথমিক ধাক্কা ডিনাই করার উপায় নাই)। এসব কারণে সাধারণ পারিবারিক বাঁধন খুঁজে ফেরার চেষ্টা পরবর্তীতে জীবনেও ক্যারির মাঝে দেখা যায়। একদম ছোট্ট ক্যারির মাঝেই পারফর্ম করার ঝোঁক দেখা দেয়। এই বইয়ে আমার আবিষ্কার করা জিনিসগুলোর মাঝে অন্যতম হয়ে থাকবে একজন 'পারফর্মারের মাইন্ডসেট'। এ সম্পর্কে এত স্পষ্ট এবং অকপট বিবরণ আমি কখনো পড়েছি বলে মনে পড়ে না।বইটার সুন্দর একটা দিক হলো ক্যারি তার জীবনের প্রথমদিক থেকেই জানতেন তিনি কী হতে চান বা কী করতে চান। সেটা জীবনের নানা চড়াই উৎরাই পেরিয়ে যাবার মাঝে কখনো আমূল বদলে যায়নি। অভিজ্ঞতা, বয়স সব কিছুর সাথে কিছু দৃষ্টিকোণে পরিবর্তন এসেছে কিন্তু চাওয়াটার পরিবর্তন হয়নি। সংগীতকে, নিজেকে, Sleater-Kinney কে যেভাবে দেখেছেন, দেখতে চেয়েছে সেদিকেই চলেছেন অকপটে। শুধু তাই নয় যেভাবে চেয়েছেন তার জন্য আদর্শিক যে জায়গা ছিল তা থেকেও কখনো মোহের টানে সরে আসেননি। বইটা ইন্সপিরেশনাল কোনো বই নয়। ইন্সপিরেশনাল বইয়ের সাথে আমার সম্পর্ক বেজায় খারাপ। তবুও যখন নানা কারণে নিজের মেরুদণ্ডের শক্তি হ্রাস পেতে শুরু করেছে তখন এই ব্যাপারটা ছোট্ট, সুন্দর একটা ইন্সপিরেশন হিসেবে কাজ করেছে।কঠোর পরিশ্রমীদের ক্ষেত্রে ভাগ্য সবসময় সহায় হয় এই কথা ছেলে বেলা থেকে শিখে আসলেও হাতের কাছে তার (ভুলেও মনে করবেন না নিজেকে বোঝাচ্ছি, আমি প্রথম শ্রেণির কুঁড়ে) প্রাপ্ত উদাহরণ খুব বেশি নেই। অনেক প্যাশন, অনেক ইফোর্ট সত্ত্বেও ভাগ্যের কাছে ভালই হেনস্তা হতে হয়েছে ক্যারিকে। তারপরও তার ক্যারির এবং Sleater-Kinney তে থাকা আরও দুজনের পারস্পরিক এবং নিজস্ব ভাঙচুর শেষ বইটা যখন Sleater-Kinney নতুন যাত্রায় এসে শেষ হয়, তখন সে প্রাপ্তির স্পর্শ পাঠক পর্যন্ত পৌঁছে যায়। অন্য কিছু রিভিউতে দেখলাম, কেউ কেউ বলেছেন Sleater-Kinney ভক্তদের জন্য ভাল বই হতে পারে। আবার Sleater-Kinney ভক্তরা বইতে নানা কিছু খুঁজেছেন তা না পেয়ে বেশ হতাশা প্রকাশ করেছেন। কিন্তু Sleater-Kinney ভক্ত না হয়েও, এমনকি Sleater-Kinney যে ধরণের মিউজিকের সাথে জড়িত তার ভক্ত না হয়েও আমার পড়ার ক্ষেত্রে কোনো সমস্যা হয়নি। বরং বিশেষ কিছু জানার চাহিদা ছিল না বলেই মনে হয় সহজে ভাল লেগে গেছে। এছাড়াও আমার কাছে খুব কম সময়ই কোনো বইতে 'কী নেই' সে ব্যাপারটা কোনো বইকে বিচার করার ক্ষেত্রে গুরুত্বপূর্ণ বলে মনেহয়। তবে যা আছে তা আরও কিছুটা ওয়েল-অর্গানাইজড ভাবে থাকতেই পারতো।
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  • El
    January 1, 1970
    Earlier this year I had the opportunity to see Sleater-Kinney perform live at Stage AE here in Pittsburgh with my brother and his girlfriend. Sleater-Kinney has long been one of those bands I've been itching to see for the last 20 years or so, but have never made it happen for one reason or another - lived in the wrong place, knew the wrong people, didn't have money, was too well-behaved, whatever. Going to see them this year was like making the 17-year-old me very, very happy.I also behaved som Earlier this year I had the opportunity to see Sleater-Kinney perform live at Stage AE here in Pittsburgh with my brother and his girlfriend. Sleater-Kinney has long been one of those bands I've been itching to see for the last 20 years or so, but have never made it happen for one reason or another - lived in the wrong place, knew the wrong people, didn't have money, was too well-behaved, whatever. Going to see them this year was like making the 17-year-old me very, very happy.I also behaved somewhat like the 17-year-old me. Something about the music got inside of me and I'm not necessarily proud of that. But the 17-year-old would have been proud of me, even if Present Self wasn't.(Thanks to my brother and his girlfriend for not judging me. Too much. I'll be better behaved at whatever next show we go to together.)Carrie Brownstein is one of those performers I've always had a huge amount of respect for, along with Kim Gordon, or Kathleen Hanna, or Allison Wolfe, or Kim Deal, or... well, the list really goes on. When I heard she had a memoir coming out, I could hardly contain myself. There have been a lot of celebrity memoirs coming out in the past couple of years, and while I'm happy to see that a lot of my tribe has been publishing, I always have this certain anxiety that maybe they'll sound incredibly dumb or arrogant, and I'll lose respect for them.Luckily Carrie came through, just like I'd hoped she would.For those who are interested solely in the band, you won't be disappointed either. But there's more than that - there's Carrie's backstory as well, from the relationship she had with her parents (a soap opera in its own right), her desire to be the center of attention not for any real narcissistic reasons but to fill a void she felt in an awkward family dynamic, to her start in the music industry in the Pacific Northwest where it seems most of my tribe has always been. The stuff about the band is what one would expect - tense at times, fun at times, magical at times, and health-threatening at others. I feel if I was in a band and on the road a lot, I also would be the one felled by the craziest health shit as well.I appreciated her candor throughout. She let us know in no uncertain terms that touring is hard, being in a band is hard, leaving home is hard, depression and anxiety is hard, it's not glamorous, it's not always fun, it's not always worth it. But she also has this understanding that each step of her journey takes her to a new place, and I respect that. It may not always be easy, but she traveled her road in her style, mistakes and all.I could have enjoyed more pictures just because I have a fascination for the raw look of 90s photos and style, and that chapter before the Epilogue about her animals nearly destroyed me, so I could have done without that. But that's also a part of her life, and she wanted to share that with us, so who am I to complain? Just a fair warning to other animal-lovers - it's not an easy read. One minute I was smiling by how cute her pets sound, and then the next I was in fetal position wanting to cry because it made me so, so sad.Now that I've seen them perform live after their hiatus, I can appreciate that show all the more since I now understand what their road and their journey has been about.
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  • Randee
    January 1, 1970
    I probably should not have read this book. I've never been a fan of Sleater Kinney or Carrie Brownstein for that matter. But, I have a close friend who is a fan, so I've heard them more often that I would like. I've also watched Portlandia. I like Fred Armisen but I think the show is very hit or miss. I saw this book on the popular picks shelf at my library and I like biographies, so I thought I would give it a shot. I think that Carrie comes off as self important and judgmental. She sounds like I probably should not have read this book. I've never been a fan of Sleater Kinney or Carrie Brownstein for that matter. But, I have a close friend who is a fan, so I've heard them more often that I would like. I've also watched Portlandia. I like Fred Armisen but I think the show is very hit or miss. I saw this book on the popular picks shelf at my library and I like biographies, so I thought I would give it a shot. I think that Carrie comes off as self important and judgmental. She sounds like she thinks her career has had the musical importance of the Stones (to whom she mentions she has been favorably compared.) She sounds like she has always been jealous of Corin. She actually sounds like a mess and I kept feeling sorry for her and bored.
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  • Cat Woods
    January 1, 1970
    Whether you know Carrie Brownstein from Portlandia or Sleater Kinney, or even if you don't know her, be prepared to embrace her weird wonderful frankness. Honestly, I thought my family was a mess but a gay lawyer dad and a runaway anorexic mum? I pass my trophy on! Emerging in the exciting, petticoat wearing eyeliner smudging, feminist polemic touting Riot Grrrl scene of the early 90s along with Bikini Girl, Babes in Toyland and L7, Sleater Kinney were raw, punk, fierce and fragile all at once. Whether you know Carrie Brownstein from Portlandia or Sleater Kinney, or even if you don't know her, be prepared to embrace her weird wonderful frankness. Honestly, I thought my family was a mess but a gay lawyer dad and a runaway anorexic mum? I pass my trophy on! Emerging in the exciting, petticoat wearing eyeliner smudging, feminist polemic touting Riot Grrrl scene of the early 90s along with Bikini Girl, Babes in Toyland and L7, Sleater Kinney were raw, punk, fierce and fragile all at once. Carrie's skill in depicting the curious and conflicted women in her band and her personal life prove she is a natural and immensely articulate writer. Easy to devour chapters in one sitting. I was never a big fan of Sleater Kinney but as a Portlandia fanatic, I had to know more about this bizarre and hilarious woman. If you have fallen out of your chair or tried to explain the ridiculous but hilarious cacao skit to someone, you need this book. Get out your retro vinyl collection, settle in and embrace the full frontal frankness of Carrie Brownstein: riotgrrl, rockstar, writer.
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  • Bert
    January 1, 1970
    I was about 18 when i first heard 'One More Hour', such a brilliantly angular, uncomfortable, angsty, catchy song, i probably taped it off the radio or something, and from then on i loved that band but they kinda made me feel anxious. Sleater-Kinney always stayed that weird apoplectic mix of things through the years and Carrie Brownstein's memoir backs that up by being the least rock n' roll memoir ever. Less drugs, groupies and booze, more shingles, panic-attacks and soy-allergies, hot. Carrie I was about 18 when i first heard 'One More Hour', such a brilliantly angular, uncomfortable, angsty, catchy song, i probably taped it off the radio or something, and from then on i loved that band but they kinda made me feel anxious. Sleater-Kinney always stayed that weird apoplectic mix of things through the years and Carrie Brownstein's memoir backs that up by being the least rock n' roll memoir ever. Less drugs, groupies and booze, more shingles, panic-attacks and soy-allergies, hot. Carrie describes her coming to terms with herself through music, first as a fan then as a performer, and what it means to perform, to become someone else briefly on stage, then to step off stage and just be that same difficult person. I liked the stuff about her pets, and i loved the writing itself. For me, it didn't transcend the genre in the way that Patti's Just Kids did, it took a few pages to get going and the prologue felt kinda trope-y, but it has tons of beauty, humour, wisdom, and it reminded me what i love about her music and how music grows with you and has magical transformative powers.
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  • Zack Ruskin
    January 1, 1970
    Before Portlandia, before Sleater-Kinney, there was a girl living in the Pacific Northwest with big ambitions, desperately yearning for an identity all her own. In Hunger Makes Me a Modern Girl, Carrie Brownstein strays from the normal parameters of the memoir format to give readers an insightful, raw look into her past and the moments that shaped her into the person who would later co-found one of the world’s most influential rock bands. Navigating a past fraught with family turmoil, rejection Before Portlandia, before Sleater-Kinney, there was a girl living in the Pacific Northwest with big ambitions, desperately yearning for an identity all her own. In Hunger Makes Me a Modern Girl, Carrie Brownstein strays from the normal parameters of the memoir format to give readers an insightful, raw look into her past and the moments that shaped her into the person who would later co-found one of the world’s most influential rock bands. Navigating a past fraught with family turmoil, rejection from the music industry, and an unwavering determination to succeed, Brownstein shares the power of rock and roll, both as her catalyst to success and as a cultural barometer of the times we live in.
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  • Rachel León
    January 1, 1970
    (4.5 stars, rounded up because I have a huge art crush on Carrie Brownstein) I'm not a huge fan of memoirs, but I read them when there is enough buzz about a book--or as in this case, I love the author. My only complaint with this book is that it wasn't longer because I didn't want it to end. Brownstein is smart, funny, witty, and totally kicks ass and this book is all those things.
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  • aPriL does feral sometimes
    January 1, 1970
    'Hunger Makes Me a Modern Girl' seems to me like a book written by a lonely person. It is very good, and I recommend reading it if, gentle reader, you enjoy lucid intelligent autobiographies and you are curious about music groups which have had a certain level of critical success, but not a huge general public exposure. I recognized a very Pacific Northwest character in the author Carrie Brownstein, having been born and raised in western Washington state myself, although my family was more lower 'Hunger Makes Me a Modern Girl' seems to me like a book written by a lonely person. It is very good, and I recommend reading it if, gentle reader, you enjoy lucid intelligent autobiographies and you are curious about music groups which have had a certain level of critical success, but not a huge general public exposure. I recognized a very Pacific Northwest character in the author Carrie Brownstein, having been born and raised in western Washington state myself, although my family was more lower-class and poor. The book is an autobiography by Brownstein and I enjoyed it very much. She is a great writer, and she describes quite cogently a story of a middle-class child looking and needing to establish herself in the world. She becomes a member of a several bands, eventually forming her own called Sleater-Kinney, singing and writing songs and playing a guitar on playhouse stages around the world. It isn't exactly as glamorous as one hopes for, including for Brownstein who had her own expectations disappointed, but there were adventures and interesting times while traveling in different countries, meeting other music people and learning to handle playing to audiences as small as four people or large enough to fill a club; sometimes playing as the opening band and sometimes as the headliner. It seems as good enough of a way to come of age, better than most women, but I don't think Brownstein found what she needed, reading between the lines, in my opinion.I thought her occasional and situational misery and confusion was about being somewhat unable to find the 'her' she wanted, the person inside the job of being on stage and recording music. I don't think she found enough fulfillment in that. She ends on what seemed to me a note of acceptance that she got what she wanted - a music band and a role as a band singer - but it wasn't as cool as she had hoped.It seems to me that Brownstein wanted a complete and satisfying role (don't we all), but I suspect the nature of the music business is too much role-playing, in my opinion. A music band begun when a youth may not be a good way to express one's true self or be a way to have a deep meaningful connection with people, especially if you aren't sure of what you are or need as a teenager. Being a band member as she, and others, have described seems to me to require more of being a technician and an actor, not being soulfully self-aware. That may have been the reason she seemed to struggle with depression and loss long after the hard touring, maybe not knowing entirely why she was sad, except for the obvious exhaustion. It also seems to me she was undergoing an excessive amount of new experiences in too short of a time period. I think that a compression of intense experiences can lead to a kind of trauma. Perhaps her childhood with one parent missing and both parents somewhat withholding of their affections, along with their divorce, left too big of an emotional emptiness a child as she was needed. She mentions she eventually thinks she needed to feel as if her band and friends were a real family, so it is possible she realized the connection.Anyway. I thought the book well-written and interesting.
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  • Sonya
    January 1, 1970
    Erudite and emotional chronicle of Carrie Brownstein's life in punk rock, which made me feel like I missed out entirely on a piece of radical, feminist culture. I was rocking my newborn baby to Mariah Carey songs on the radio and was unaware of any of the bands Brownstein talks about in this memoir, including and especially Sleater-Kinney. I have a lot of unformed ideas about this book. But overall, it's so well-written and ultimately sad, sad, sad.
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