Sounds Like Titanic
A young woman leaves Appalachia for life as a classical musician—or so she thinks.When aspiring violinist Jessica Chiccehitto Hindman lands a job with a professional ensemble in New York City, she imagines she has achieved her lifelong dream. But the ensemble proves to be a sham. When the group “performs,” the microphones are never on. Instead, the music blares from a CD. The mastermind behind this scheme is a peculiar and mysterious figure known as The Composer, who is gaslighting his audiences with music that sounds suspiciously like the Titanic movie soundtrack. On tour with his chaotic ensemble, Hindman spirals into crises of identity and disillusionment as she “plays” for audiences genuinely moved by the performance, unable to differentiate real from fake.

Sounds Like Titanic Details

TitleSounds Like Titanic
Author
ReleaseFeb 12th, 2019
PublisherW. W. Norton Company
ISBN-139780393651645
Rating
GenreNonfiction, Autobiography, Memoir, Music, Biography

Sounds Like Titanic Review

  • Melki
    January 1, 1970
    Holy Milli Vanilli!Or, should I say Milli Violini?While still in college, the author, an aspiring violinist, was chosen to be part of an professional music ensemble. Her duties involved playing her instrument, and selling CDs at shopping malls, AND the 54-city God Bless America concert tour. The catch was . . . she performed before a dead microphone. The flawless music came from a recording. The audiences paid big bucks to see musicians "lip sync" to a CD. The entire scheme was masterminded by a Holy Milli Vanilli!Or, should I say Milli Violini?While still in college, the author, an aspiring violinist, was chosen to be part of an professional music ensemble. Her duties involved playing her instrument, and selling CDs at shopping malls, AND the 54-city God Bless America concert tour. The catch was . . . she performed before a dead microphone. The flawless music came from a recording. The audiences paid big bucks to see musicians "lip sync" to a CD. The entire scheme was masterminded by a man referred to only as the Composer, a strange fellow who wrote tons of quasi-classical music, yet couldn't recognize Beethoven's most famous ditty. In a tale too weird to be fictional, Hindman does a wonderful job of conveying the endless monotony of being on the road - from the bland, and uninspiring food at chain restaurants, to the boredom of having to play the same songs over and over again for hours.I know what it feels like to hate a song so much you never want to hear another goddamned note.Despite Hindman's displeasure at the cheesy tunes, and "fake" performances, the music really resonated with audience members. As one woman put it, "It is so calming. It gives me a few moments of peace." Many found the dulcet tones to be both thrilling and a comfort. Still others insisted it sounded like Titanic.Music that sounded just like a movie about an entire society - rich on the top deck, poor on the bottom - headed for disaster.This was a terrific surprise: enjoyable, entertaining, and thought provoking. I'm looking forward to reading, oh, pretty much anything else Hindman cares to write.Many thanks to Michelle from W.W. Norton for a complimentary copy.
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  • Cheri
    January 1, 1970
    ”Sometimes I wonder where I've been,Who I am, Do I fit in.Make believin' is hard alone,Out here on my own.” -- Out Here On My Own, Irene Cara, Songwriters: Leslie Gore / Michael Gore ”Vivaldi is in your head. The music you hear is like the blaze-orange clothing the men wear on the mountainsides while deer hunting in autumn. The music is like a bulletproof vest, a coiled copperhead, a rabies shot. The music is both a warning and a talisman. The music tells you things.””The music says: What you ”Sometimes I wonder where I've been,Who I am, Do I fit in.Make believin' is hard alone,Out here on my own.” -- Out Here On My Own, Irene Cara, Songwriters: Leslie Gore / Michael Gore ”Vivaldi is in your head. The music you hear is like the blaze-orange clothing the men wear on the mountainsides while deer hunting in autumn. The music is like a bulletproof vest, a coiled copperhead, a rabies shot. The music is both a warning and a talisman. The music tells you things.””The music says: What you feel is real. Follow me. Run.”This memoir is about growing up in the ‘80s & 90s, about growing up in the Appalachian mountain area of West Virginia, and then later on, moving not that far away, but to the Virginia side of these same mountains. It’s about a love of music that began with music from a favourite childhood VHS tape. It’s about a girl who grew up in a rural area, and parents who drove hours every week to see a dream of hers become real. It’s about a town that saw her as having “reeyell talent,” and how life (or at least the people who counted) disagreed. It’s about how she managed to – for a time – find work touring the world, as a violinist. More specifically, she is paid to perform as a violinist before an unplugged microphone, while The Conductor plays the music that is broadcast courtesy of a $14.95 tape player. From a festival in New Hampshire - her first gig in 2002, to China, all around the US, playing more festivals, inside malls selling their CD’s to any shoppers who overheard their music playing, to larger venues, traveling around the country in a beat up camper that was held together by duct tape. It’s about a young woman who struggles with “life in the body,” struggles that many others have faced before. It’s about 9/11 and the war in Iraq. It’s about the 90’s, women’s equality. It’s about how both social media and reality television have changed life in a less-than positive way. It’s about the disparity of ways of life throughout the US, throughout the world. I found this almost impossible to put down, she shares her story in such an engaging way, so vulnerable, and honest about the toll that taking this job took on her physically, to get her through university. This story itself is incredibly engaging, but there is so much more to this than just a composer who has duped hundreds of thousands of people into buying “his” music. ”And if you aren’t a violinist—you who clung to your violin like it was a life preserver, like a prosthetic phallus, like a shield and a sword with which you battled the feeling that you were just an average-looking, unsubstantial, nothing-special girl, a girl who could be thrown under the bus of American culture with all the other girls—then who are you?” Captivatingly candid, this is an thoroughly enjoyable memoir that is relevant to our world today.Published: 12 Feb 2019Many thanks to W.W. Norton & Company for the ARC
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  • Katie
    January 1, 1970
    “There were just some things you couldn’t do for money. Not because they were particularly difficult, but because you just didn’t want to. Because they weren’t worth your life, which might not be worth much, but was worth something.”God, this book. It’s catapulted itself into my favorite books of all time, but how do I even begin to explain why? Yes it’s about playing the violin (or not playing the violin, however you want to look at it), but the most important parts of this memoir are not about “There were just some things you couldn’t do for money. Not because they were particularly difficult, but because you just didn’t want to. Because they weren’t worth your life, which might not be worth much, but was worth something.”God, this book. It’s catapulted itself into my favorite books of all time, but how do I even begin to explain why? Yes it’s about playing the violin (or not playing the violin, however you want to look at it), but the most important parts of this memoir are not about that at all: They’re about growing up in the ‘90s; they’re about the war in Iraq; they’re about women’s equality, the obsession with reality television, the farce that is “work-life balance” in America.It’s so much easier for me to write about the books I’ve hated than it is the books I’ve loved. Hating something is almost always tangible; it’s bad writing, a shitty plot, boring characters. To love a book is a feeling. It’s a sharp intake of breath, forgetting to exhale, because you can’t believe the words in front of your face. Hindman captivates on two fronts: her recollection of touring America as a fake violinist, and more importantly, her uncanny ability to so clearly describe the unpleasant topics society “swept under the rug” for those of us born in the ‘80s.She recounts the false promises made to young girls in the ‘90s:“Even stranger is that, as people say in the 1990s, It’s the nineties!, meaning, ‘women are equal now.’ A teacher tells your class, ‘You can be anything you want if you work hard enough,’ and then adds, ‘This is true for girls now, too.’ What no one ever says during your entire upbringing is that there has been a cultural price to pay for equality.”The Millennial dilemma of working ourselves to death to create self-worth:“What seems most important is that, for the first time in your life, you chose your health over the extra work that you might have been able to produce, the extra success you might have been able to achieve… And you’ll marvel that all it took was someone—someone whom you thought of as brilliant and hardworking—giving you permission not to put work above everything else.”Anxiety as a social taboo:“Panic attacks serve as confirmation of the very things women spend their lives working to negate: suspicions of female silliness, stupidity, hysteria… At the core of any anxiety is fear, and yours is this: You have lost control over everything. You have spent years working hard under the belief that hard work matters, but you are suddenly struck by the idea that nothing you do matters.”And how surprisingly purposeless her dream of being a post 9/11 war correspondent was: “There is no way to know that the new America will have very little interest in learning anything accurate about the Middle East...it will be more difficult to make a living by providing accurate information about the Middle East to an American audience than it will be to make a living by fake-playing the violin.”I admire Hindman’s ability to talk so candidly about the traumatic events of her life. Her story helped me process many of the questions I’ve had throughout my life but have never received sufficient answers for.See more of my reviews: Blog // Instagram
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  • Heidi The Reader
    January 1, 1970
    A violinist and Eastern Studies major who is struggling to pay her way through Columbia gets a job that seems to be more than she ever hoped for. She is going to be playing professionally for audiences across the U.S. It turns out to be fake — the music is played through speakers, never live."While this is a memoir about being a fake, this is not a fake memoir. This is a memoir in earnest, written by a person striving to get at the truth of things that happened in her past." From the introductio A violinist and Eastern Studies major who is struggling to pay her way through Columbia gets a job that seems to be more than she ever hoped for. She is going to be playing professionally for audiences across the U.S. It turns out to be fake — the music is played through speakers, never live."While this is a memoir about being a fake, this is not a fake memoir. This is a memoir in earnest, written by a person striving to get at the truth of things that happened in her past." From the introduction.Jessica Hindman grew up in Appalachia among some of the most impoverished residents in the country. It's interesting though, the gripping poverty seemed normal to her until she considered it later, through more mature eyes. Children are so flexible. Almost anything can be made to seem "normal"."And as you listen to the other kids talk about their life goals, you realize something else: You are someone whose upbringing was upper class enough to make you believe you could make music for a living, but lower class enough to provide no knowledge of how to do it." pg 10After some serious struggles through puberty with her body and self image, Jessica ends up following her boyfriend to Columbia University, where they almost immediately break up. But her troubles to pay the astronomical tuition bills are just beginning."The Composer," the man behind the music and the tours Jessica eventually goes on, seems to know very little about music himself."And then, The Composer asks me a question that — had it come from any other musician, let alone a Billboard-topping classical composer who has performed with the New York Philharmonic — I would have taken as a joke. ... "I like this music," he says of the opening to Beethoven's Fifth Symphony. "What is it?" pg 20Despite any concerns she may have, Jessica perseveres in the job anyway, because her tuition requirements leave her little choice. It nearly ruins her mind and body before she finds a way out of her predicament. Along the way, you can't help but hope for her to succeed."After several more customers mention 'Titanic,' you begin to realize that most of The Composer's compositions sound very 'Titanic-esque'. And you notice that the more the songs sound like 'Titanic,' the more customers want to buy them." pg 47I enjoyed this memoir so much not just because of Jessica's life, which is fascinating, but also because we have so many things in common. I am the same age she is, lived through the events of 9/11 in a collegiate setting (as she did), started out as a music major but changed to something else, and the similarities go on. I've also experienced crushing anxiety with the same physical symptoms she describes. It was eerie, really."A million times more than any other emotion or experience, fear has the strength and ability to mangle her into something different from what she truly is, something phony and fake and cowardly. And now, surprised and twisted and disoriented and broken as she is by fear's sudden arrival, she realizes that she needs to fight it, fight for her life." pg 223But you don't need to be anything like Jessica to appreciate what it means to be made to feel like an impostor in your own life. To know that you can be doing better, but you're just inching along. To dream big but live small.Recommended for readers who enjoy memoirs about a life filled with difficulties, but also hope. If you have a background in music, you may like this book even more, but it's not required to understand it.
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  • Amy Bruestle
    January 1, 1970
    I won this book through a giveaway in exchange for an honest review....Unfortunately I could not get myself to finish this. I really hate not finishing a book and I usually force myself to suffer through it if it’s bad or not something I’m into, but now that I am getting older, I am learning that there are tons of books I want to read in my lifetime, and it is okay not to finish the ones I don’t like. That might seem obvious to some of you, but my OCD-ness qualities make it difficult for me to d I won this book through a giveaway in exchange for an honest review....Unfortunately I could not get myself to finish this. I really hate not finishing a book and I usually force myself to suffer through it if it’s bad or not something I’m into, but now that I am getting older, I am learning that there are tons of books I want to read in my lifetime, and it is okay not to finish the ones I don’t like. That might seem obvious to some of you, but my OCD-ness qualities make it difficult for me to do! I don’t have much to say about this book other than the fact that I was beside myself with boredom.
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  • Kate
    January 1, 1970
    This is the sort of book you stay up too late reading.I usually stick to fiction, because a character's life as invented by the author has to be more interesting than the real lives of people around us. But Jessica's account of working for The Composer is weirder than fiction. Sure, it's a story about being a violinist in fake concerts, but also manages to be a study on the nature of memoir, reality, growing up female in the nineties, undergraduate class conflict, a tour of America at war, and t This is the sort of book you stay up too late reading.I usually stick to fiction, because a character's life as invented by the author has to be more interesting than the real lives of people around us. But Jessica's account of working for The Composer is weirder than fiction. Sure, it's a story about being a violinist in fake concerts, but also manages to be a study on the nature of memoir, reality, growing up female in the nineties, undergraduate class conflict, a tour of America at war, and the unreliable narrator in our own heads. I really appreciated the vulnerability she put into this book. It allows even a reader with the most boring life to relate to the sometimes crazy experiences the author had. While Jessica is critiquing her young self for her inability to make a living doing something important, I'm admiring all of the ways that she at least tried, harder than most people ever try at anything. Before I even finished reading this book it was obvious that she had managed to do something important and creative: This book is brilliant. I can't wait to read what she writes next.
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  • Jessica ☕
    January 1, 1970
    I know I'm posting this review early, but I just have to share.I'm going to cut to the chase and just come out and say that this is one of my favorite books that I have read in a long time and I want every woman I know to read it and we will all be in one huge book club.On its surface, it is a memoir of a woman who spends a few years of her young adulthood faking it as a professional violinist. The Composer, a man who is never named specifically, has written simplistic orchestral music that soun I know I'm posting this review early, but I just have to share.I'm going to cut to the chase and just come out and say that this is one of my favorite books that I have read in a long time and I want every woman I know to read it and we will all be in one huge book club.On its surface, it is a memoir of a woman who spends a few years of her young adulthood faking it as a professional violinist. The Composer, a man who is never named specifically, has written simplistic orchestral music that sounds suspiciously like the Titanic theme song, and pays semi-professional musicians to fake-play along to a soundtrack. The crowd never knows the difference, and the author becomes an accomplished violinist who really isn't that great.Yet, there are nuanced layers to the story that make it rich and engrossing:- Ms. Hindman had a world-class education in Middle Eastern studies during 9/11, but no one was interested in what she had to share.- After growing up in Appalachia and finding herself living among the children of the 1% in New York City, she feels that she must (literally) work herself to death to validate her existence.- Fascinating discussions on what she refers to as "life in the body" -- the struggle every woman has in coming to terms with her body and the space it inhabits. I'm calling this is as my favorite book of 2018.arc received from the publisher
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  • Dan
    January 1, 1970
    I always enjoy stories featuring amateur musicians (cough cough Station Eleven), and this was no exception! Hindman's experiences with the Composer, and her struggles to get in that position, are unique and remarkable, and I found her voice to be a perfect fit to narrate those experiences. To me, the most interesting aspect of the memoir was the author's ability to dive into the psyche of America; what do those Ruby Tuesdays and mall performances really tell us about the soul of America? Travel I always enjoy stories featuring amateur musicians (cough cough Station Eleven), and this was no exception! Hindman's experiences with the Composer, and her struggles to get in that position, are unique and remarkable, and I found her voice to be a perfect fit to narrate those experiences. To me, the most interesting aspect of the memoir was the author's ability to dive into the psyche of America; what do those Ruby Tuesdays and mall performances really tell us about the soul of America? Travel narratives carry their own unique interest; we started to hear about the flavors of Georgia, but it felt like we didn't get as much after that. What about New Mexico? Minnesota? (dare I ask -- Ohio?) The snippets that popped in later were great -- loved the shout-out to Great Lakes Brewing Company's Christmas Ale!I would have loved another hundred pages or more to go into depth about her tour in China and the steps she's taken to get from music to her current career in teaching and writing. I would've enjoyed more about the technical aspects of playing so quietly all the time, or about her mental routine to survive it, or her friendship with Harriet. I would've been excited to read deeper analysis about the America that was so taken with this music. I want more of everything!That said, the book had an easily digestible length, and makes it easy to recommend to others. Fans of coming-of-age memoirs, careers in music, PBS specials -- you're in for a bite-size treat!
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  • Michael Waddell
    January 1, 1970
    This is an amazing story! I found myself shocked by many of the twists and turns in the author's life, the bizarre situations she found herself in, the ways she found to get by through all of it. But what really makes the book great is the author's style: direct, curious, unflinching, playful. Nearly every page has something that makes me think about some unobserved detail in life -- what we mean by "make a living", how it's often the most inauthentic things that authentically touch people's liv This is an amazing story! I found myself shocked by many of the twists and turns in the author's life, the bizarre situations she found herself in, the ways she found to get by through all of it. But what really makes the book great is the author's style: direct, curious, unflinching, playful. Nearly every page has something that makes me think about some unobserved detail in life -- what we mean by "make a living", how it's often the most inauthentic things that authentically touch people's lives, how smiling is so often demanded but can signal unseriousness. I've read books that delighted in these sorts of observations before, but they were usually using them as distancing techniques, wry, above-it-all. Sounds Like Titanic is nothing like that. Somehow it manages to be clever and playful, while still being vulnerable, compassionate, and honest. An amazing book.
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  • Kelsey
    January 1, 1970
    4.5
  • Hannah Mae
    January 1, 1970
    this book made me feel reeyell.
  • Nate
    January 1, 1970
    Jessica Chiccehitto Hindman has written a memoir of "holy shit allegro" proportion. Her time-hopping memoir spans from rural 1980s West Virginia, to 2001 Cairo, Egypt, to major cities across the United States as a violinist on a mysterious, PBS-favorite composer's God Bless America Tour. At its heart, Sounds Like Titanic is Chiccehitto Hindman's journey of wrestling with life in the body, navigating the crooked gaze of America in its large cities and small towns. It's also a distinctly 21st cent Jessica Chiccehitto Hindman has written a memoir of "holy shit allegro" proportion. Her time-hopping memoir spans from rural 1980s West Virginia, to 2001 Cairo, Egypt, to major cities across the United States as a violinist on a mysterious, PBS-favorite composer's God Bless America Tour. At its heart, Sounds Like Titanic is Chiccehitto Hindman's journey of wrestling with life in the body, navigating the crooked gaze of America in its large cities and small towns. It's also a distinctly 21st century coming-of-age narrative: Chiccehitto Hindman achieves academically, working obsessively to do so, but it's only at the end of the memoir, years removed from the company of well-off classmates with sights set on Wall Street and "playing" violin that she is truly happy with her position in the world. Chiccehitto Hindman's journey is her own, but her insights are those that, if you're a certain age, you know to be true. When future readers want to know what America was like in the early years of the 21st century, Sounds Like Titanic will be one piece of literature they turn to.
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  • Michaela
    January 1, 1970
    dnf p. 31. Written in the 2nd person. Grew tired of reading the word, "you," in every line incredibly quickly. (She referred to herself as, "You.") Did not find a character to get invested in as no one here had any personality. Timeline kept jumping. I couldn't figure out what was going on, or indeed if anything was going on, & I started to fall asleep the 2nd time I tried to read it. So I'm done.
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  • Wynne Kontos
    January 1, 1970
    I was practically salivating for a copy of this before its February release date, and the buyers at my store graciously tracked one down for me (as well as a colleague who had heard how I bad I wanted to read it.)The premise was really, really cool. While attending Columbia University in NYC circa 2002, Jessica Chiccehitto Hindman joined a classical music ensemble as a violinist, that as it turned out, wasn't playing music at all but mimicking along to pre-recorded, half-plagerized music that "s I was practically salivating for a copy of this before its February release date, and the buyers at my store graciously tracked one down for me (as well as a colleague who had heard how I bad I wanted to read it.)The premise was really, really cool. While attending Columbia University in NYC circa 2002, Jessica Chiccehitto Hindman joined a classical music ensemble as a violinist, that as it turned out, wasn't playing music at all but mimicking along to pre-recorded, half-plagerized music that "sounds like 'Titanic.'" If you are like me, and "Titanic" was the seminal film of your childhood/young adulthood, then you know exactly what penny whistle whining music I'm referring to. Hindman's account of being a New York college student forced to reckon with the insurmountable wealth one tends to encounter at institutions like Columbia (I have many CU friends, and myself received a Masters from NYU) and what type of wealth one tends to be slapped with upon arrival in NYC, read all too true. Having grown up in Appalachia, the daughter of middle class parents that made them upper class in their small, rural community, Hindman had to adjust her thinking about class and money almost immediately. How one intuits these lessons as a part of one's personality, and how that tends to happen in a uniquely New York way when you move to the city, Hindman writes about with a deftness only gathered from true experience.Those New Yorkers reading this are nodding because they know exactly what I (we) are talking about. In fact, reading about such an ingrained truth in such precise detail can become a little grating. But that's not to say Hindman didn't capture it well, because she did. In a desperate attempt to pay her tuition, Hindman takes the violinist job and soon learns the pitfalls of the ensemble she's just joined, and its ruthless leader, The Composer. He's never named, only referred to as such, and some shoddy Google searches have turned up nothing. (Don't worry, I will keep trying.) Having played the violin since childhood, but giving up the dream in order to pursue Middle Eastern studies, Hindman is excited to be a "real violinist." Cue CD player blasting prerecorded music, her slave labor work as an ensemble member and the psychotic behavior of The Composer and you have a recipe for mental health disaster. Soon Hindman finds herself spiraling into an anxiety landslide, unable to trust or control her own emotions, but desperate for the meager cash flow the job provides. And the ego boost so often gained, however momentarily, when some hick in Kansas thinks she's playing the violin beautifully.There are parts of this memoir that really shine, that highlight the class disparity and the impossible-ness of being a functioning millenial in society (despite the fact that Hindman herself is not a millenial.) Finding work that provides benefits, health insurance, security, money--these are luxuries to so many of us. Hindman knows that, she sees how she has floated on the periphery of so many aspects of her life, as a writer, a musician, a college student, a New Yorker, an Appalachia resident. Her ability to be objective about herself is notable, especially for a reader like me. There's nothing I hate more than a memoir that lacks objectivity.Though the writing is strong, at times it feels like you're being ping ponged around through the different parts of what was once a long form essay. In an effort to spread it to 249 pages, Hindman ruminates several times over about her failed attempts to become a Middle Eastern correspondent, even in the ruin directly after 9/11, but she writes sparingly about her fellow ensemble players, perhaps because she never really got to know many of them well due to their work environment or the fact that they often can't cut it and quit. She categorizes the fans of The Composer's music and her rural neighbors back home, in a somewhat compassionate but clearly categorized way. The Trump-voter comparisons, the eating tuna fish casserole in Walmart clothes comparisons, the NRA supporting, Muslim hating, hardcore Christian comparisons are there in between the lines or spelled out directly. They're deplorables, but Hindman is all too ready to explain why in artful terms. Sometimes she's talking about the differentiation in class that we often must live as young people to understand. Sometimes she's talking about these deplorables, and how exposure to our common man is the only way to understand we're not that different. Sometimes she's talking about job security, or overpriced education, or Middle Eastern conflict, or New York City, or the fact that The Composer is not only a fraud but once tried to kill a member of their ensemble by letting him nearly freeze to death in an unheated camper traveling through Montana in the winter time. But sometimes there's not enough depth or consistency to quite meld it all together. Lastly, because The Composer's identity is never revealed, it seemed glaringly obvious. I'm sure that it was to protect his anonymity as well as to hit us with this literary device that every time his "name" is mentioned we're reminded of what role he is meant to play (and does only in imitation.) But I found myself at every instance DESPERATE to know who he was. There are so many context clues the anonymity seemed a little pointless, her feelings of revulsion so strong that when she decides at the end of the book to protect him I felt confused and a little tricked. Here we've read about this conman who has virtually abused Hindman and her coworkers for years, like I said, nearly KILLED a man (the words "he was capable of killing me" are almost used verbatim) but in the last minute she decides not to reveal what he said to her in their most "honest and revealing" conversation. Hasn't the ship for protecting him or his character SAILED AT THIS POINT? Pun intended. 247 pages of essentially demonizing this man just to save him in the last two. Are we that worried about legal? That's what the naming device felt like, what this build up to a conversation we're not allowed to be privy to felt like: the legal team at W. W. Norton sending gentle reminders through the editing room.Hindman can write, she knows people, she's not afraid to get dark. I have already brought this book up to several friends and family members, and I look forward to handselling it. I guess after all my hemming and hawing, an emotional reaction to a book is what counts. Hindman got me there. I don't know who the Composer is, but I know who Jessica is. Whether the book will have the same effect as say, a long form viral piece remains to be seen, though I will be interested in what else Hindman creates. And I'm sure if Jack Dawson was still alive, he would be too.
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  • Shaun
    January 1, 1970
    I received a copy of this book for free through a Goodreads First Reads Giveaway.A unique memoir that I was surprised to really enjoy. The premise doesn't sound all that engaging, but the opposite is true. What made it so unique was both the content (a musician traveling the United States, and China, performing "live" music that is actually just a CD on playback) and the style. The writing is in the 2nd person, which was both distracting at first but a welcome change to the typical memoir format I received a copy of this book for free through a Goodreads First Reads Giveaway.A unique memoir that I was surprised to really enjoy. The premise doesn't sound all that engaging, but the opposite is true. What made it so unique was both the content (a musician traveling the United States, and China, performing "live" music that is actually just a CD on playback) and the style. The writing is in the 2nd person, which was both distracting at first but a welcome change to the typical memoir format. It also jumps around a lot, from the author's childhood to the tour she was on, to her days in college. It was difficult to get used to it at first, but it all started to come together and was actually well done. Overall, another unique memoir I'm glad I read. It's a nice break from the war memoirs or celebrity memoirs that are always so prevalent.
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  • Martha Toll
    January 1, 1970
    Here’s my review on NPR. https://www.npr.org/2019/02/13/693532...
  • Books on Stereo
    January 1, 1970
    A tad bit frantic and meandering for my taste.
  • Missy
    January 1, 1970
    In Sounds Like Titanic, Jessica Chichetto Hindman weaves a remarkable tale that is utterly unique yet eminently relatable.Early on in this hard-to-put-down memoir, Hindman switches from first to second person because, she posits, “For many people, myself included, sitting down to write something in first person feels like the worst type of fakery.” Hindman knows a thing or two about fakery, having traveled across the country playing her violin with the mic turned off as music music that ‘sounds In Sounds Like Titanic, Jessica Chichetto Hindman weaves a remarkable tale that is utterly unique yet eminently relatable.Early on in this hard-to-put-down memoir, Hindman switches from first to second person because, she posits, “For many people, myself included, sitting down to write something in first person feels like the worst type of fakery.” Hindman knows a thing or two about fakery, having traveled across the country playing her violin with the mic turned off as music music that ‘sounds like Titanic’ blared from a CD player – “doing the Milli Violini,” as she calls it. By “faking you,” Hindman says, “I am finally able to say what I want to say.” And does she ever have a story – a bizarre, troubling, hilarious, uniquely American and thoroughly female story – to tell. Hindman recalls being told as a child by her fellow Appalachians that she had “reeyell talent” as a violinist, but the bright star she was in her small mountain town soon diminished under the bright lights of New York City. It turns out that Hindman’s “reeyell” and undeniable talent lies in her ability to draw the reader into a truth that is stranger than most fiction. However, as a female reader who has smiled because it is expected and “easier” (for everyone else), who has felt less than because of her small town-ness, who has felt like she is faking it, who has struggled with finding “life in the body,” Sounds Like Titanic rings true – and resonates deeply.
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  • Lauren
    January 1, 1970
    It’s difficult to say exactly what Sounds Like Titanic is about - but I can firmly say that it is a captivating, beautifully written memoir that’s well worth a read. In many ways, it’s like one of those Russian nesting dolls: on the outside, there’s the tagline of the book - Jessica Chiccehitto Hindman is a mediocre violin student from Appalachia studying at Columbia who gets a job as a fake violinist for a musical ensemble led by a dude whose formulaic instrumental music sounds just like the so It’s difficult to say exactly what Sounds Like Titanic is about - but I can firmly say that it is a captivating, beautifully written memoir that’s well worth a read. In many ways, it’s like one of those Russian nesting dolls: on the outside, there’s the tagline of the book - Jessica Chiccehitto Hindman is a mediocre violin student from Appalachia studying at Columbia who gets a job as a fake violinist for a musical ensemble led by a dude whose formulaic instrumental music sounds just like the soaring pennywhistle-laden tunes of the Titanic soundtrack. She and the other members of the Ensemble play on dead microphones in front of crowds of people at craft fairs, malls, and PBS-fundraiser theaters while a $15 boombox spews the same six Titanic-y songs at a blasting volume. A book about just this would be fun, funny, and interesting enough, filled with her anecdotes of the eccentric (read: just plain wacko) Composer (cough Tim Janis cough), her initial forays into fake-playing the violin while hawking CDs in small towns in the Northeast, and her strange experiences touring the country in a beat-up RV for the “God Bless America Tour.” But Hindman takes the memoir a step further, one that elevates this book from a one-line summary into a multi-paragraph summary. The next Russian nesting doll is about growing up in Appalachia in the 1980s and 1990s, the proud feeling of moms and pops telling her that she has a “reyell gift” with the violin, being able to overcome the stereotypes of West Virginian outcomes with something that set her apart from her upbringing. The next doll about being a young woman in the 1990s, a discombobulating feeling perfectly captured by Naomi Wolf’s phrase “life in the body.” Hindman describes the dissonance between people telling tween girls, “It’s the 90s, you can do anything!” and tween girls feeling, “How am I supposed to ‘do anything’ in this ugly, horrific body of mine?” She develops an eating disorder, tries to be a “cool girl” and play along with the guys, but only feels set apart by her skill with the violin: a phallic kind of musical appendage (her words, not mine). When she gets to New York City, Hindman struggles with money. The next doll is a portrait of the millennial work ethic, often dragged by baby boomer critics, but exemplified by Hindman’s scrappy hustling, even coming from an upper middle class family. She works hard for the sake of working hard, because she enjoys the business, because she needs the money. As she tours with the Ensemble, she transforms into a Middle Eastern Studies major, the next doll. She even studies abroad in Cairo right when 9/11 happens. She is confident that her Arabic skills and in-depth knowledge of the Middle East will skyrocket her career, making her a shoe-in at any publication that wishes to cover the impending wars and Islamic terrorism. But she’s wrong; she finds that the U.S. doesn’t want context, history, or personification of the exterior threat. They just want the enemy to be gone. Later, during the “God Bless America Tour,” Hindman develops a debilitating anxiety disorder, the final doll. This one is the toughest, unexplainable, terrifying beast - there are few scholars that Hindman can call upon to contextualize it. But she ends the tour and hides in her parent’s basement, literally unable to face any part of the outside world due to her psychological condition. She eventually finds a stable job with healthcare - as she says, the utmost jackpot among millennials - and moves back to New York City. With the Ensemble long behind her, she begins teaching creative writing. She is happy and somewhat stable. This book is marvelously written, engaging, and interesting, funny and depressing all at once. Although I’m not a child of the 1980s, I imagine that (based on other reviewers’ notes) she captures the experience brilliantly. P.S.: I’m waiting on an official soundtrack to this book based on all the pieces Hindman mentions, analyzes, and recommends - who volunteers to make one?
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  • Christine
    January 1, 1970
    I won this book through a Good Reads giveaway. This book was such a pleasure to read! Honestly, one of the best books I’ve read in a long time.This story is not only a wild ride, it’s very well written. Jessica writes very eloquently not only about her time with The Conductor, but also about her childhood in rural Appalachia.Going into this book, I expected a funny, crazy story about a fake orchestra, and the book delivers on that. What I didn’t expect was an eloquent and touching journey into l I won this book through a Good Reads giveaway. This book was such a pleasure to read! Honestly, one of the best books I’ve read in a long time.This story is not only a wild ride, it’s very well written. Jessica writes very eloquently not only about her time with The Conductor, but also about her childhood in rural Appalachia.Going into this book, I expected a funny, crazy story about a fake orchestra, and the book delivers on that. What I didn’t expect was an eloquent and touching journey into life as a young girl growing up in the 90’s. Though the writer is probably about 10 years my senior, I related so clearly to her insights and it brought back memories I hadn’t thought about in years.This book is funny, sweet, poignant, eloquent, and so easy to read. I would definitely recommend it to anyone!
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  • Brenna Thom
    January 1, 1970
    This is a pretty incredible story. When I first read the premise of Sounds Like Titanic, I genuinely thought it was a work of fiction. To find out that it was, indeed, a memoir was shocking. The memoir transitions from a few different periods in Hindman’s life: her upbringing in the Appalachian Mountains, her time at Columbia University, and her time on the God Bless America Tour with The Composer. Her vivid description of the Appalachia people and how they lived was fascinating. And I loved the This is a pretty incredible story. When I first read the premise of Sounds Like Titanic, I genuinely thought it was a work of fiction. To find out that it was, indeed, a memoir was shocking. The memoir transitions from a few different periods in Hindman’s life: her upbringing in the Appalachian Mountains, her time at Columbia University, and her time on the God Bless America Tour with The Composer. Her vivid description of the Appalachia people and how they lived was fascinating. And I loved the interesting insights she inserted throughout the book about growing up in the 90’s, the Middle East, mental illness, and reality TV. Sure, it’s a coming of age story, but this book was so different from anything I’ve read of late. As someone who doesn’t read a lot of nonfiction, I found this book to be very engaging and readable. I definitely recommend it.
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  • Karrie
    January 1, 1970
    3.75 stars. I forget why I ever started this book, but for some reason I assumed it was fiction. I also listened to it as an audiobook...it did not start well for me. The book kept jumping all over the place with dates, and I think because I couldn’t see the dates, I wasn’t following well and it just felt all over the place. Not long into it I considered quitting, and wondered if I would give it more than 2 stars. Then I realized it was an actual memoir, which changed things for some reason, and 3.75 stars. I forget why I ever started this book, but for some reason I assumed it was fiction. I also listened to it as an audiobook...it did not start well for me. The book kept jumping all over the place with dates, and I think because I couldn’t see the dates, I wasn’t following well and it just felt all over the place. Not long into it I considered quitting, and wondered if I would give it more than 2 stars. Then I realized it was an actual memoir, which changed things for some reason, and as I started to hear about her life story, (still back and forth and all over the place with dates and times) I caught a picture of a young woman trying to find her place in this world, searching for her identity and the meaning of life in a tough world. It was interesting, as I have a very different worldview from her, and challenged me with the need to offer the world what we have in Jesus!The story was actually pretty interesting, and not a bad read (would not recommend the audio) but while I’m glad I finished it, I would not say it’s a “must read”.
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  • Matt
    January 1, 1970
    I really enjoyed this memoir. I was very young in the era discussed in the book, I have very faint memories of Bush, the early Iraq and Afghanistan wars, post 9/11 patriotism, and other such cultural themes hinted at. Memories brought back to the forefront.What really made the book special to me though was how relevant it is to me: facing many of the same fears and challenges that Jessica did 15-20 years ago. Her story resonated with me in a very human way. Struggling to pay student loans, get h I really enjoyed this memoir. I was very young in the era discussed in the book, I have very faint memories of Bush, the early Iraq and Afghanistan wars, post 9/11 patriotism, and other such cultural themes hinted at. Memories brought back to the forefront.What really made the book special to me though was how relevant it is to me: facing many of the same fears and challenges that Jessica did 15-20 years ago. Her story resonated with me in a very human way. Struggling to pay student loans, get health insurance, have a place to live. These are the fundamental truths of the millennial generation. This book is less about pretending to play in an orchestra, but is about coming of age in uncertain times, when the prospects of a future seem bleak.
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  • Erin Kelly
    January 1, 1970
    Everything about this book is extraordinary.
  • Danielle
    January 1, 1970
    January 2019, pre-release:I've actually been lucky enough to have Jessica as a professor twice now at my university. She's a wonderful person and an amazing instructor so I'm very excited to read this!
  • Linda
    January 1, 1970
    Sounds Like Titanic is the fascinating memoir of a violinist who toured the United States with an ensemble who mimed playing while the audience heard music from a CD. The memoir gets into so many issues: class, money, privilege, snobbery... I'll try to unpack a little bit of it without giving away too much.Jessica Chiccehitto Hindman grew up in a small town in Appalachia, and she wanted to play violin. She had to miss school occasionally to take violin lessons hours away, crossing from West Virg Sounds Like Titanic is the fascinating memoir of a violinist who toured the United States with an ensemble who mimed playing while the audience heard music from a CD. The memoir gets into so many issues: class, money, privilege, snobbery... I'll try to unpack a little bit of it without giving away too much.Jessica Chiccehitto Hindman grew up in a small town in Appalachia, and she wanted to play violin. She had to miss school occasionally to take violin lessons hours away, crossing from West Virginia into Virginia. Her interest in classical music made her the different one at school, so she experienced what comes with that stigma. She decides she wants to major in music and attend college at Columbia, and though her parents encouraged her to go someplace less expensive, she made it.Attending an Ivy League school opened Hindman's eyes to many things. She realized she was upper-middle-class in West Virginia, but she was much poorer than her extremely wealthy classmates who never even thought about money. Meanwhile, she's struggling with the high cost of living in New York, trying to balance her jobs, her studies, and her practicing. She's very insecure about her playing as she's surrounded by violinists who've been studying with Juilliard faculty since they could hold the instrument. She eventually drops out, but money is still an issue.She finds an ensemble that's willing to hire her without an audition, which she thinks is odd, but she's too thrilled about being a PROFESSIONAL VIOLINIST IN NEW YORK that she doesn't want to rock the boat. At the first gig, she learns what the ensemble is all about—promoting "The Composer" and selling CDs of "his" music. His music is extremely popular; as audience members note, "It sounds like Titanic !" Yes, it does—because it's as close to the Titanic soundtrack as legally possible. The Composer's works are manipulative, playing on the audience's love of melodramatic music that makes them feel. Hindman reflects on classical music snobbery, as the audience thinks the music is classical and the players think it's not.Okay, so I did just give a summary of the book to a certain point, which I generally try to avoid, but in this case the details (which are plentiful!) are important. This memoir offers Hindman's unique perspective of America as she tours the country with the ensemble—and yes, it's mostly true, as people have figured out the identity of The Composer. I recommend this book to people who've majored in music at some point (even/especially if you switched programs or dropped out!),and anyone else connected to music in some way.
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  • Kathy De
    January 1, 1970
    Sounds like Titanic by Jessica Hindman is not just a memoir. It’s a work of creative non-fiction. Yes it is the story of a specific moment in the author’s life, but it also dances from her youth to the recent past to the memoir’s present. The leaps in time are signaled by changes in point of view, from I to she to the inclusive you. These movements keep the writing fresh all the way through. I enjoyed the personal story of the Appalachian girl, raised to believe she’s a star, hitting against rea Sounds like Titanic by Jessica Hindman is not just a memoir. It’s a work of creative non-fiction. Yes it is the story of a specific moment in the author’s life, but it also dances from her youth to the recent past to the memoir’s present. The leaps in time are signaled by changes in point of view, from I to she to the inclusive you. These movements keep the writing fresh all the way through. I enjoyed the personal story of the Appalachian girl, raised to believe she’s a star, hitting against reality when she tries to succeed at an elite northeastern university. The memoirist’s struggles and perseverance and resilient humor kept me turning the pages. I turned them, too, because the prose is as beautiful as it is lucid and easy to read. And I turned them because of the subtext: this memoir goes beyond unveiling the writer’s life to giving a searing critique of 21st century America—its pretenses and willingness to believe lies. The memoirist travels from the northeast to California, to Florida and Kansas and Texas. She sees America from behind the curtains, not just the show but the truth. I recommend this memoir to anyone who wants to read a funny, honest story about a young woman with high ideals who faces disappointment with a strong heart. But more particularly, I recommend the book to young women in general. The memoir talks about what happens to girls when they grow old enough to “live in the body,” to feel themselves reduced to their physical being—and suggests ways to fight back. Finally, I recommend this memoir to anyone who cares about language, form, and humor—the perfect mix.
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  • Erin Charpentier
    January 1, 1970
    I have a weird relationship with memoirs. Sometimes I think it's good, but more often than not, I find myself thinking: Ehh, why do I care? THIS BOOK, HOWEVER, IS SO GOOD. Jessica weaves a story that bounces between her time pretending to be a classical violinist for a man who goes by The Composer (and she's covered her tracks well, so you might be able to dig and do some research but his identity isn't revealed) who makes his living traveling around in an RV, hiring musicians to pretend to play I have a weird relationship with memoirs. Sometimes I think it's good, but more often than not, I find myself thinking: Ehh, why do I care? THIS BOOK, HOWEVER, IS SO GOOD. Jessica weaves a story that bounces between her time pretending to be a classical violinist for a man who goes by The Composer (and she's covered her tracks well, so you might be able to dig and do some research but his identity isn't revealed) who makes his living traveling around in an RV, hiring musicians to pretend to play while his music blasts for a hidden CD player (Sony, bought at Walmart for $14.99). In the midst of this story, is also her story of growing up in Appalachia. Certainly not poor, but still, growing up in Appalachia, plus that of trying to be a journalist in a 9/11 world. Sometimes I get lost when the timeline bounces, but in this case, it was easy to follow and so engaging. You will not be able to put this one down.
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  • Gigi
    January 1, 1970
    When I initially read the plot for this book I thought it would be about Jessica and her experience working in a fake ensemble which definitely caught my attention BUT I was pleasantly surprised that she shared her journey and struggles as a broke student in NYC in comparison to her classmates along the way. The homeless, Penn Station at night, drugs, unaffordable everything, applying to every job and not getting one interview after graduation, a dark cloud that seems to be above your head at al When I initially read the plot for this book I thought it would be about Jessica and her experience working in a fake ensemble which definitely caught my attention BUT I was pleasantly surprised that she shared her journey and struggles as a broke student in NYC in comparison to her classmates along the way. The homeless, Penn Station at night, drugs, unaffordable everything, applying to every job and not getting one interview after graduation, a dark cloud that seems to be above your head at all times and a negative energy that sucks every gram of positivity out of you making you feel guilt and doubt. Something I’m all to familiar with and happy I left. Her honesty and style of writing is captivating. Her story sad, familiar in ways but inspiring. You’ll probably sometimes wonder “Is this real?”. Yes, yes it is.To all the girls out there struggling #keepyourheadup 💕 Thank you @jessicachindman for sharing your story.
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  • Wendy Ballard
    January 1, 1970
    I've become interested in the violin for a variety of reasons. That's what brought me to this book, that, and, well isn't Titanic one of the best movies? I think it is. Jessica has had a love affair with the violin since she was a child and her parents did the right thing by encouraging her even to the point of taking her to weekly lessons hours away from home. I liked that. They encouraged without being stage parents. I enjoyed reading about Jessica's growth as a violinist, her willingness to g I've become interested in the violin for a variety of reasons. That's what brought me to this book, that, and, well isn't Titanic one of the best movies? I think it is. Jessica has had a love affair with the violin since she was a child and her parents did the right thing by encouraging her even to the point of taking her to weekly lessons hours away from home. I liked that. They encouraged without being stage parents. I enjoyed reading about Jessica's growth as a violinist, her willingness to give it her all, but not being pompous and thinking she was a prodigy. She is a humble person taking life on and doing well. I didn't care for her storytelling method. Jumping back and forth between the present, then the past (way past) and then jumping to the present again was just unnecessary. Linear/chronological storytelling isn't always bad.
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