No Walls and the Recurring Dream
A memoir by the celebrated singer-songwriter and social activist Ani DiFrancoIn her new memoir, No Walls and the Recurring Dream, Ani DiFranco recounts her early life from a place of hard-won wisdom, combining personal expression, the power of music, feminism, political activism, storytelling, philanthropy, entrepreneurship, and much more into an inspiring whole. In these frank, honest, passionate, and often funny pages is the tale of one woman's eventful and radical journey to the age of thirty. Ani's coming of age story is defined by her ethos of fierce independence--from being an emancipated minor sleeping in a Buffalo bus station, to unwaveringly building a career through appearances at small clubs and festivals, to releasing her first album at the age of 18, to consciously rejecting the mainstream recording industry and creating her own label, Righteous Babe Records. In these pages, as in life, she never hesitates to challenge established rules and expectations, maintaining a level of artistic integrity that has impressed many and antagonized more than a few. Ani continues to be a major touring and recording artist as well as a celebrated activist and feminist, standing as living proof that you can overcome all personal and societal obstacles to be who you are and to follow your dreams.

No Walls and the Recurring Dream Details

TitleNo Walls and the Recurring Dream
Author
ReleaseMay 7th, 2019
PublisherViking
ISBN-139780735225176
Rating
GenreAutobiography, Memoir, Music, Nonfiction, Feminism, Biography

No Walls and the Recurring Dream Review

  • Jenny (Reading Envy)
    January 1, 1970
    I read this right away when I received a review copy despite the fact that it isn't due to come out until May. Why? Because I had a huge Ani phase at a very formative period of my life, one that isn't completely over, because here I am writing this review and listening to... Ani. I saw her live in Portland in 1999.Ani owns her own record label and can put out more than one album of her own work in any given year. Does she just have that much to say, or is she better at writing than editing? Is i I read this right away when I received a review copy despite the fact that it isn't due to come out until May. Why? Because I had a huge Ani phase at a very formative period of my life, one that isn't completely over, because here I am writing this review and listening to... Ani. I saw her live in Portland in 1999.Ani owns her own record label and can put out more than one album of her own work in any given year. Does she just have that much to say, or is she better at writing than editing? Is it true that creating and writing words on a page are part of her monthly cycle as she claims? I ask these questions because this book is a bit of a mess. The prose rambles, the stories are often devoid of the context of time, she is very self... motivated in her storytelling, and at the very end she's like, "Oh yeah, this is only the story up until 2001," something that would have been pretty nice to know from the start. It is badly in need of structure, revision, and a greater purpose. (This is when I question how much a book changes once uncorrected proofs are sent out. Could it be that it can be altered significantly in that time period? Here's to hoping!)Ani's story that she does tell should be one of triumph! She survives a bizarre childhood of very little parenting in a dying town. She creates her own company rather than dealing with the music multicomplex that everyone else did, and still manages to make it onto the radio, into music festivals, and into music magazine profiles, when music magazines still existed and mattered. She lives her life loving both men and women. She pursues her own sound and look no matter what others think. This should be the story of the year. But none of these ideas ring with the clarity they deserve. It is really a shame.As a fan, I wanted to know more about the stories behind certain songs. Sometimes a song's lyrics are added to a section without so much as a preamble or explanation, and that could use some finessing. There are a few song stories in here, for instance how her attraction to a man she wasn't with led to a burst of creative energy, and the way he and his current partner and her current partner found out was when she sang the songs he inspired during a live show. (These are the stories I would have read hundreds of pages of, had they been the driving force of the memoir.)I received a copy from the publisher through Edelweiss in exchange for an honest review, something which they may be regretting in this moment, but here's proof that I am honest! The memoir comes out May 7.
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  • Jesse
    January 1, 1970
    I knew Ani had some problematic aspects but I came out of this book liking her much less than when I started. I wish I had just kept to the mix tape playlist she released on Spotify rather than this deeper dive into her life and attitudes.This book was rambly and hard to read, but a few things stood out:1) she had a number of relationships as a minor and young adult with men significantly older than her but did not really examine that in the book as problematic behavior on their part or potentia I knew Ani had some problematic aspects but I came out of this book liking her much less than when I started. I wish I had just kept to the mix tape playlist she released on Spotify rather than this deeper dive into her life and attitudes.This book was rambly and hard to read, but a few things stood out:1) she had a number of relationships as a minor and young adult with men significantly older than her but did not really examine that in the book as problematic behavior on their part or potentially a source of trauma... which is fine if that is really what she thinks but as a reader it feels jolting and violating.2) she’s incredibly essentialist about gender and a TERF sympathizer - sorry Ani - that’s one place you can’t be in or out about. 3) she doesn’t like her fans very much.4) she over catalogs her lovers, even ones she only spent a night or two with, and glosses over what seems like really big moments, like, say, how she became emancipated.5) she uses a whole bunch of racist and classist and ableist phrases and attitudes throughout the book. Most cringey is when she compares her hairstyles to people of color she is working with.6) shaved head was punk not dyke.7) she has a lot of weird prescriptive ideas - like dairy is the only cause of acne and no one should eat dairy - that do not seem based in reality. Of course it’s her memoir, her right to write whatever she wants, but it feels like a missed opportunity for self examination that might benefit her and the reader.
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  • Anna
    January 1, 1970
    This book is at its strongest when DiFranco reflects on her songwriting and touring experiences. It turns EXASPERATING when she decides to go off on weird pseudosciency tangents (not drinking milk for 6 months cleared up HER acne, so she wants to tell people with pimples to go off of dairy because it TOTALLY WORKS????), stuff about the Goddess, and just plain WEIRD shit about periods. Oh, and there are some bits where she talks very strangely about people with disabilities--which, as a person wi This book is at its strongest when DiFranco reflects on her songwriting and touring experiences. It turns EXASPERATING when she decides to go off on weird pseudosciency tangents (not drinking milk for 6 months cleared up HER acne, so she wants to tell people with pimples to go off of dairy because it TOTALLY WORKS????), stuff about the Goddess, and just plain WEIRD shit about periods. Oh, and there are some bits where she talks very strangely about people with disabilities--which, as a person with disabilities...slow your roll, Ani. Also, use of the phrase "Chinese fire drill" when she is otherwise very concerned about racism = YIKES I'm a huge fan of Ani DiFranco, and parts of this book are wonderful...but some of it was a slog.
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  • Katie
    January 1, 1970
    this book....does not have the range. if you are interested in ani difranco's work, please allow me to lovingly introduce you to all 30 years of her musical career myself, song by song and album by album. please do NOT start, or even supplement, with this book.
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  • Jennifer
    January 1, 1970
    This is probably more like 2.5 stars than 3.This reminded me of Tori Amos’ Piece by Piece. A rambly “memoir” written by a high-school shero that made me like them less and remember why I stopped listening to them in the first place. Bit of a bummer.
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  • Kat
    January 1, 1970
    If you know Ani DiFranco and expected her memoir to be anything less than a beautiful mess of rambling tangents, poetic prose, strongly worded sermons of staunchly held political beliefs, whimsical idolization of folk heroes, lengthy philosophical lectures, occasional easter egg references to specific beloved lyrics from her discography, deeply personal and often painful confessions & memories all while not indulging an inch past what she cared to share, then you don’t know Ani DiFranco at a If you know Ani DiFranco and expected her memoir to be anything less than a beautiful mess of rambling tangents, poetic prose, strongly worded sermons of staunchly held political beliefs, whimsical idolization of folk heroes, lengthy philosophical lectures, occasional easter egg references to specific beloved lyrics from her discography, deeply personal and often painful confessions & memories all while not indulging an inch past what she cared to share, then you don’t know Ani DiFranco at all.
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  • Jessica
    January 1, 1970
    I received an advance copy from Edelweiss in exchange for an honest review.How do I objectively review something from someone who's meant so much in my life? How do I separate the Ani of my life from the Ani of her own? First, it should be noted that the detailed stories in this end in roughly 2001, with 9/11. If you go into the book looking for stories about Ani's life in New Orleans, her kids, her second husband, and basically any album after Revelling/Reckoning, this isn't going to be it. But I received an advance copy from Edelweiss in exchange for an honest review.How do I objectively review something from someone who's meant so much in my life? How do I separate the Ani of my life from the Ani of her own? First, it should be noted that the detailed stories in this end in roughly 2001, with 9/11. If you go into the book looking for stories about Ani's life in New Orleans, her kids, her second husband, and basically any album after Revelling/Reckoning, this isn't going to be it. But if you want to know the Ani who started as Angela, who ran feral in Buffalo and New York, who sold tapes out of a Hyundai trunk for years, this is for you.For Ani DiFranco fans, this is an open door into the artist that has meant so much to so many, telling stories of her family, her background, her childhood, and her youth, and the details of how she got into music. I read articles about her obsessively in the 1990s, trying to find any new bits of detail or history of this person who told stories that spoke so strongly to me, I hoarded magazines with her photos and taped them to my walls, while stapling the articles together and stashing them to re-read later for anything I might have missed. This book answers so many questions I had, which was fantastic. Her stories of life driving from venue to venue, sleeping in cars and benches and random apartments are fascinating, not only because WOW that's some dedication, but also because long-time fans will recognize stories that found their way into songs over the years. Ani's grappling with the demands of her fame vs the idea she had of being just a folksinger starts out interesting but after a while I questioned why she kept going if she felt like selling her music/starting a label/selling t-shirts was some sort of weird betrayal of her ideals. We may yearn for the downfall of capitalism but that's what we live in now, so unless she wanted to just hand out a million cassettes (which, to be fair, is how she got started) forever, I don't know what she wanted? I mean, now she's selling ornaments and underwear, and she's still working with local printers and artists, so she's doing it with as much integrity as anyone can.The one thing that put me off of this book (and it may be entirely just a personality thing) is the wandering off into the idea of the Great Mother Spirit, the idea of masculine/feminine ways of expressing oneself, and some weird gender stuff that I was just NOT into and made me feel like maybe, while Ani's working hard to get it right, there's some gender and race issues that she's not up to Twitter/Tumblr levels of engagement with. I definitely noticed that, in stopping at 2001, she didn't have to address the plantation songwriting workshop fiasco of 2013/2014. Overall, this is completely recommended to longtime Ani DiFranco fans, but readers unfamiliar with her may find her language and storytelling to be repetitive or too self-consciously folksy.
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  • Renata
    January 1, 1970
    OK, a few things, in no particular order:- I loved Ani DiFranco's music as a #teen, and found her to be an inspiring feminist icon. That said, as an adult I became aware of some of her more cringey moments, but overall I went into this book feeling positive, nostalgic feelings about Ani DiFranco, certainly willing to give her the benefit of the doubt and check out her memoir.- Despite the fact that the title a) sounds like it should be a memoir of a Mexican immigrant? and b) also sounds like she OK, a few things, in no particular order:- I loved Ani DiFranco's music as a #teen, and found her to be an inspiring feminist icon. That said, as an adult I became aware of some of her more cringey moments, but overall I went into this book feeling positive, nostalgic feelings about Ani DiFranco, certainly willing to give her the benefit of the doubt and check out her memoir.- Despite the fact that the title a) sounds like it should be a memoir of a Mexican immigrant? and b) also sounds like she thought of two titles for her memoir and couldn't decide so she just used them both. - Anyway I DNFed this after 4 chapters because like, it's a lot, and I do not believe she employed an editor at ALL, and also maybe I just don't care that much about Ani DiFranco anymore? A more hardcore fan would likely get more out of this.
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  • Jen
    January 1, 1970
    It’s Ani Fucking Difranco. What else is there to say?
  • Skye
    January 1, 1970
    This is an illuminating memoir for Ani Difranco fans. I always assumed she was born in that Righteous Babe muscle flexin’ pose- but of course she wasnt. Of course there is a story behind that image, behind her record company, behind her guitar. This memoir is a gift. It highlights a young woman shifting cultural norms and working hard to keep the wheels of her life spinning. At the same time, it shares what her unique path felt and looked like from her perspective, not the hype of media or the f This is an illuminating memoir for Ani Difranco fans. I always assumed she was born in that Righteous Babe muscle flexin’ pose- but of course she wasnt. Of course there is a story behind that image, behind her record company, behind her guitar. This memoir is a gift. It highlights a young woman shifting cultural norms and working hard to keep the wheels of her life spinning. At the same time, it shares what her unique path felt and looked like from her perspective, not the hype of media or the fanaticism of fans. I look forward to part II in twenty years. I was given an Advanced Reading Copy by NetGalley in exchange for my honest review.
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  • Maya
    January 1, 1970
    Reading other people’s (negative) reactions to this book is interesting. Ani is this figure from the 90s that I feel so many women hitched their formative years to as a pillar of... what? Feminism? Rebellion? Nonconformity? I love her in this way too. But for some, the stories they made of her in their heads, that is who she is to them and the almost shock of her not living up to that is just... interesting. Yes, this book is rambling at times and yes she glosses over what feel like happenings t Reading other people’s (negative) reactions to this book is interesting. Ani is this figure from the 90s that I feel so many women hitched their formative years to as a pillar of... what? Feminism? Rebellion? Nonconformity? I love her in this way too. But for some, the stories they made of her in their heads, that is who she is to them and the almost shock of her not living up to that is just... interesting. Yes, this book is rambling at times and yes she glosses over what feel like happenings that could take their own whole book (her emancipation as a minor, her MUCH older boyfriends and frankly all the older men in her life, etc). This book gives us what she wanted to or was ready to give us. What a life she’s had! How could it be contained in 300 pages? I ended this feeling like she is not some hero, that was never her goal, and regardless of her outspokenness or daring ness, she is just as scared and confused inside as the rest of us. I think that was the point of this book and I deeply appreciate that.
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  • Niccola Nelson
    January 1, 1970
    To say I love Ani DiFranco is an understatement. Like a huge understatement. I discovered her in 1998 and it was LOVE at first LISTEN. I literally ran out and bought every album she put out and I haven’t stopped doing it and I’m almost 40. I play her albums in my car and my one year old daughter bops her head to it and I couldn’t be happier! Her words, songs and poetry have moved me in ways I cannot explain and it was partly because of her that I moved from tiny little Rhode Island to Chicago. S To say I love Ani DiFranco is an understatement. Like a huge understatement. I discovered her in 1998 and it was LOVE at first LISTEN. I literally ran out and bought every album she put out and I haven’t stopped doing it and I’m almost 40. I play her albums in my car and my one year old daughter bops her head to it and I couldn’t be happier! Her words, songs and poetry have moved me in ways I cannot explain and it was partly because of her that I moved from tiny little Rhode Island to Chicago. So to say that this memoir was long awaited and long anticipated by me is also an understatement! I loved this memoir; yes I wanted her to share more but like she said at the end of the book, her memoir is more like a coming of age than everything she’s done to date because her best adventures are yet to come. I was so happy she talked about her relationship with Andy and Goat but she left out Sara Lee who I wanted to know more about! Maybe a sequel??!!! 😂😂
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  • Katrina Dreamer
    January 1, 1970
    It is hard for me to give this three stars. After all, I am a big fan of Ani’s music and it was her songs that helped me recognize that I am queer. But many parts left me feeling uncomfortable, like her rant about non-smoking and scent-free sections at shows (ableist much?) and her attitude toward the trans community. I agree with much of her activism, but I found myself skimming those sections because it felt like I wasn’t learning anything new. As I read, I kept stopping to check the name of t It is hard for me to give this three stars. After all, I am a big fan of Ani’s music and it was her songs that helped me recognize that I am queer. But many parts left me feeling uncomfortable, like her rant about non-smoking and scent-free sections at shows (ableist much?) and her attitude toward the trans community. I agree with much of her activism, but I found myself skimming those sections because it felt like I wasn’t learning anything new. As I read, I kept stopping to check the name of the publisher, wondering who edited the book...some sections seemed out of place, others felt tacked together with little or no connection. I read one section multiple times before giving up and moving on because I couldn’t figure out how the paragraphs connected. It also seemed to end abruptly and left me with lots of questions. I enjoyed this most when she was talking about her formative years, her creative process and collaborations, and what it has been like to run a business.
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  • Betty
    January 1, 1970
    Ani Difranco was my savior during my college years. Her music meant so much to me and she is still, hands down, the best live performer I have ever seen. I have such fond memories of her smaller, intimate shows where you could sense her life force radiating off the stage, and feel the audience collectively falling in love with her. Then she started to get super popular, and I got distracted with other things. We grew apart. 💔I was so happy to see she has written a memoir. I’ve read some reviews Ani Difranco was my savior during my college years. Her music meant so much to me and she is still, hands down, the best live performer I have ever seen. I have such fond memories of her smaller, intimate shows where you could sense her life force radiating off the stage, and feel the audience collectively falling in love with her. Then she started to get super popular, and I got distracted with other things. We grew apart. 💔I was so happy to see she has written a memoir. I’ve read some reviews that criticize this book, saying it’s a bit all over the place, kind of a mess. I don’t know. It’s her voice and I think it’s absolutely perfect the way it is.
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  • Nate Hawthorne
    January 1, 1970
    More philosophical and political than a typical memoir. Ani is an artist through and through. She believes in her truth and integrity, but does not seem to preach. My favorite parts were about the songs and relationships. Also her insight of other artists.
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  • Tasha
    January 1, 1970
    The first CD I bought was Little Plastic Castle. Maybe that explains why I read this in one sitting. (Or maybe because I technically bought it as a gift for a friend and need to wrap it up.)
  • Melinda
    January 1, 1970
    A mixed bag, kinda like her musical catalog! I loved getting to learn the back story of some of my favorite songs (and I had an epic spotify playlist of her stuff from the early to mid-90s playing while I read this). I bristled at the complaints over her fans' neediness and the torture of photo shoots (like...you work for yourself -- why are you doing them??). And I rolled my eyes waaaaaay back every time she did the "I'm just a folksinger" routine or went off of some tangent about menstruation A mixed bag, kinda like her musical catalog! I loved getting to learn the back story of some of my favorite songs (and I had an epic spotify playlist of her stuff from the early to mid-90s playing while I read this). I bristled at the complaints over her fans' neediness and the torture of photo shoots (like...you work for yourself -- why are you doing them??). And I rolled my eyes waaaaaay back every time she did the "I'm just a folksinger" routine or went off of some tangent about menstruation or eating dairy.I will always have a soft spot for her music. If you feel the same, you will probably enjoy this at least a bit.
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  • Kathleen Gray
    January 1, 1970
    I have always enjoyed DiFranco's music but I am not the superfan other reviewers seem to be. I found this to be an interesting and well written memoir about a woman coming of age and into her own. Tough circumstances only serve to make her tougher- into the righteous babe. Don't look for the meaning of her songs and know that this ends in 2001, when she's 30. It also does meander a bit and can seem haphazard but that's the nature of a memoir. Thanks to Edelweiss for the ARC. Those interested in I have always enjoyed DiFranco's music but I am not the superfan other reviewers seem to be. I found this to be an interesting and well written memoir about a woman coming of age and into her own. Tough circumstances only serve to make her tougher- into the righteous babe. Don't look for the meaning of her songs and know that this ends in 2001, when she's 30. It also does meander a bit and can seem haphazard but that's the nature of a memoir. Thanks to Edelweiss for the ARC. Those interested in DiFranco or in how a woman navigated her way through the music business will find this a good read.
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  • Cathy
    January 1, 1970
    Insightful, inspiring, and unpredictable (in a good way)--kind of like seeing her live.I've been a fan since the early 90's, so learning about her childhood and how she came to meet and play with folks like Pete Seeger, Andy, and Goat was fascinating to me. Her views on feminism, women's choice and patriarchy are much needed in today's cultural and political climate.
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  • Kristin
    January 1, 1970
    I am left disappointed just like when I saw her in concert. I will no longer enjoy her music as much as it was all a lie, all for a Lesbian cult following she didn't want.
  • Cheryl
    January 1, 1970
    I may not love every song this womyn sings, but the ones I love, I am obsessed with. I remember exactly where I was when I discovered her, in a now defunct record store in New York City, and I think it was ‘Untouchable Face,’ Tell you the truth I prefer the worst of youToo bad you had to have a better halfShe's not really my typeBut I think you two are foreverAnd I hate to say it, but you're perfect togetherSo fuck youAnd your untouchable faceFuck youFor existing in the first placeAnd who am I?T I may not love every song this womyn sings, but the ones I love, I am obsessed with. I remember exactly where I was when I discovered her, in a now defunct record store in New York City, and I think it was ‘Untouchable Face,’ Tell you the truth I prefer the worst of youToo bad you had to have a better halfShe's not really my typeBut I think you two are foreverAnd I hate to say it, but you're perfect togetherSo fuck youAnd your untouchable faceFuck youFor existing in the first placeAnd who am I?That I should be vying for your touchI said who am I?I bet you can't even tell me that muchand I fell in love and listened to the CD non stop. It was the first CD that I truly felt in my bones. Or maybe ‘Done Wrong’ because i had just experienced the exact thing she sang about, someone who told me over and over they were trying hard to be honest and open while they were not, at all, even trying, but totally blind to themselves. There's just a couple thingsI'd like to knowLike how could you do nothing And say, I'm doing my bestHow could you take almost everythingAnd then come back for the restHow could you beg me to stayReach out your hands and pleadAnd then pack up your eyes and run awayAs soon as I agreedSince then, my music repertoire has broadened, but I am still believe that her music brought me out of the desert of music that was the 80’s and finally made sense to me. The music and the lyrics just hit me like no other artist had ever done. ‘To the Teeth’ is one of the favorite of her albums, and intricately woven into who she is to me. I learned about feminism in college and found my voice and my self esteem and tribe, but this was another level of political activism that spoke to me, as well as a personal resonance. The first song that ever touched a nerve, and made me sob uncontrollably was Birmingham:Hold me downI am floating awayInto the overcast skiesOver my home townOn election dayWhat is it about Birmingham?What is it about Buffalo?Did the hate filled want to build bunkersIn your beautiful red earthThey want to build them in our shiny white snowAnd now I've drawn closed the curtainsIn this little booth Where the truth has no place to standAnd I am feeling oh so powerlessIn this stupid boothWith this useless little lever in my handAnd outsideMy city is bracingFor the next killing thingStanding by the bridgeAnd praying for the next Doctor Martin Luther KingIt was just one shotThrough the kitchen windowJust one or two miles from hereIf you fly like a crowA bullet came to visit a doctorIn his one safe placeA bullet ensuring the right to lifeWhizzed past his kid and his wifeAnd knocked his glasses right off of his faceAnd the blood poured off the pulpitYeah the blood poured down the picket linesAnd the hatred was immediate, yeahAnd the vengeance was divineSo they went and stuffed God down the barrel of a gunAnd after him they stuffed his only sonHello Birmingham; it's BuffaloI heard you had some trouble down there againJust calling to let to knowThat somebody understandsI was once escortedThrough the doorsOf a clinicBy a manIn a bulletproof vestAnd no bombsWent off that daySo I am still here to sayBirminghamI'm wishing you all of my bestOh BirminghamI'm wishing you all of my bestOh BirminghamI'm wishing you all of my bestOn this Election DayTo the Teeth, about gun control was not far behind. And still reeling from Columbine. For a personal shock, I had spent time standing on my parent’s porch, as a crossroads, vacillating on what to do next, and my will came and sent me to do travel nursing which set me free, and here came ‘Going Once:’ Going once, going twiceSold to the girlWho ignored all the adviceOf all the people who knew her betterShe just stood thereOn the front porchWaiting for her willTo come and get hereShe was packedShe had a suitcaseFull of noble intentionsShe had a mapAnd a straight faceHell bent on reinventionAnd she was readyFor the lonelyShe was in it forIt onlyReady for the lonely.It had always been something I feared, but to be ready and open to it changed me forever and is the source of much of my poetry and art. I could go on and on. I could really, truly wax rhapsodic on and on, and the main point, she is loved, and she has reached so many of us from all walks of life with her music and words. Her memoir, or ‘making-of’ story, was exactly what I thought it would be: honest, eloquent, and a beautiful look at an extraordinary womyn. I wish there was more, I could read every detail, and not in a salacious gossipy way, just because she sounds like the coolest person to be friends with, and someone who is a true bridge builder between all of us, and who is a hero of our time, and there just aren’t that many of those. Never perfect but perfectly imperfect. Music heals souls and enlivens lives, and she is the definition of music to me.
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  • ashley lloyd spanton
    January 1, 1970
    Ani DiFranco has been a long time shero of mine, but I've always felt she puts so much of herself into her songs that I've never thought to look into her life much more beyond her music. I was excited to read this memoir for a bit of insight into her upbringing and was pretty fascinated by the unconventional life that formed her artistry. I listened to this as an audiobook, read by Ani, which I think added to the experience. She read the book like she reads her poems on her albums, with that poe Ani DiFranco has been a long time shero of mine, but I've always felt she puts so much of herself into her songs that I've never thought to look into her life much more beyond her music. I was excited to read this memoir for a bit of insight into her upbringing and was pretty fascinated by the unconventional life that formed her artistry. I listened to this as an audiobook, read by Ani, which I think added to the experience. She read the book like she reads her poems on her albums, with that poetic, emphasized flare, and it was a real comfort listening to her speak her own words, it made the book feel like more of a connection when it struggles to actually connect.This memoir is basically a glimpse into the making of, her formative years, as she pushed through a nearly parentless childhood, jumping from bed to bed, sometimes living in cars, touring as much as possible, and the experiences that led to her first recording session and meeting the people who would help her build her band, her brand and her label. Each chapter is a little snippet of a different part of her life. Sometimes it flows flawlessly; sometimes it seems a bit out of place and a little all over the place. She mentions a lot of different people and experiences, but doesn’t dwell on them too much, which sort of leaves a lacking feeling afterwards, like there could have been a bit more time spent on the depth of that situation or person instead of just mentioning it in what seems like passing.The most interesting parts were when she talked about writing music and touring and musical influences. Some of the other stuff might throw the reader off; she goes on some tangents that seem a bit bizarre sometimes. A lot of reviewers seem a bit surprised by this, but to me it just felt like Ani. A little rambly, a little strange.I can’t say I necessarily got what I wanted out of this, I was hoping for some inspiration and a feeling of connection, which this doesn’t really give you. But that’s not what she’s doing this for. If there’s anything you can take from this story, it’s that she isn’t really doing this to inspire, she’s doing it to survive. And not in the literal sense, I mean in the sense of without creating music, without sharing those thoughts, there would be nothing else. And that’s something I can appreciate and I think that’s something that comes across strongly in this book.
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  • Ian
    January 1, 1970
    There has been no collected history of Ani’s past up to this point. In the years leading up to her memoir there was always small clues here and there; a story shared on stage or a little snippet in an interview. But there was never much “near” to who she was outside of her stage presence and albums. And that is how she wanted it. And after reading her memoir I get it. I have been an avid fan of Ani’s since Little Plastic Castle, and was a member of a fan website, that would later be bought by RB There has been no collected history of Ani’s past up to this point. In the years leading up to her memoir there was always small clues here and there; a story shared on stage or a little snippet in an interview. But there was never much “near” to who she was outside of her stage presence and albums. And that is how she wanted it. And after reading her memoir I get it. I have been an avid fan of Ani’s since Little Plastic Castle, and was a member of a fan website, that would later be bought by RBR (and then be a member of another iteration of the fan site that it too would be purchased by RBR). So this memoir was an exceptional exploration into who she was during a big chunk of those years, and what her thoughts are of current politics and her engagement with fans. This is not a memoir where she dissects her songs for you, and tells you who they are about or why she wrote specific lyrics. So if you are looking for that this might not be the book for you. This book explores her relationship with herself, and how she has rectified or attempted to rectify her role in her life and with her relationships and fans. The book meanders a lot through the years. The stories pitch you forward ten years and the. The next one throws you back 15 years. It is not structured chronologically, which for me added to the conversational appeal of thebook. It was like sitting down with a friend who is telling you about their life and their thoughts on big issues, but then remembering something important from years ago that applies to the current topic and so they have to tell that story to make you understand how they have gotten to where they are. I would have liked a little more story from the big band era. I was always interested in the dynamic between Julie, and then bitch and animal, and Daren. Sadly they are just a footnote in this memoir, but it isn’t my story to tell; it’s Ani’s. And she tells it well.
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  • Adelina
    January 1, 1970
    As a huge Ani fan, I couldn’t wait to read this book. I opted for the audio version as she reads it herself, and I am so glad I did. I thought several times how much more scattered it would feel if I had been reading it. In the end, I enjoyed the book once I started going with its rhythm. Events aren’t always shared chronologically and more than once I felt like the tangent was the point. Reading it may have been too much; listening is the way to go, and I’m glad I did. That said, I was disappoi As a huge Ani fan, I couldn’t wait to read this book. I opted for the audio version as she reads it herself, and I am so glad I did. I thought several times how much more scattered it would feel if I had been reading it. In the end, I enjoyed the book once I started going with its rhythm. Events aren’t always shared chronologically and more than once I felt like the tangent was the point. Reading it may have been too much; listening is the way to go, and I’m glad I did. That said, I was disappointed that it didn’t go into more of her adult life, and that what I believed should be bigger moments in the book weren’t included - or glossed over. It is her memoir though, and she gets to decide what to include or not. That ending though felt like she took a page straight out of George RR Martin’s instruction manual...🤷🏻‍♀️I’ve since read reviews criticizing her for her seeming condescension comparing her hairstyles to people of color or TERF (had to google that...) beliefs, but I think she’s just being honest to how she felt at the time - and if she still feels that way, it’s her choice. Goodness knows, I don’t think I can say with certainty how I currently feel about that last topic, and I probably would’ve been less sympathetic 20 years ago, so kudos for giving such a complex situation an honest examination of thought. Overall, I think the book attempted just that, and certain passages were beautifully written or thought through, so I give it four stars. A more honest assessment of the book as a whole is a 3/3.5, but did I mention what a huge fan I am :)
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  • Jill
    January 1, 1970
    I'm not an objective reader of this book. Ani gave voice to our collective experience as young women in America at the end of the 20th century. I played her CDs until I wore them out; I went to her shows as often as I could find her. She was the soundtrack to my college years and my 20's, and while I've listened to her less in recent years (little kids around + expletives = tough combo), I've recently put her music back on and it still speaks to my heart. I note all of this because it makes me p I'm not an objective reader of this book. Ani gave voice to our collective experience as young women in America at the end of the 20th century. I played her CDs until I wore them out; I went to her shows as often as I could find her. She was the soundtrack to my college years and my 20's, and while I've listened to her less in recent years (little kids around + expletives = tough combo), I've recently put her music back on and it still speaks to my heart. I note all of this because it makes me predisposed to like her memoir. Frankly, I can't imagine someone stumbling across this memoir who didn't have context for Ani and trying to read it. It wouldn't parse. But as a fan, I found this book deeply satisfying. I appreciate knowing more context around the lyrics of some of her songs; I enjoy being allowed into her world to understand her upbringing and her forming. I was saddened to learn how little self-confidence she has, in particular around her music, but I realize this further illustrates how human she is (not the untouchable goddess we have imagined her to be). I hope she'll write a follow-up that covers finding new love, maturing as an artist, raising children, living in New Orleans, and contemporary political commentary- in short, what I imagine she has been up to over the last 20 years. Ani, if you're reading this: thank you. You are enough.
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  • Selena
    January 1, 1970
    I was a huge Ani fan for quite a long time (I've lost interest in the past five years or so), and I was really looking forward to this book. I loved the parts where she talked about her own life and her recording/songwriting. The parts where she would lose me were where she went off for pages on things like her menstrual cycle, her views on gender roles, and her views on prisoners/prisoners rights. Also, sometimes while writing about a particular subject, she would randomly start talking about s I was a huge Ani fan for quite a long time (I've lost interest in the past five years or so), and I was really looking forward to this book. I loved the parts where she talked about her own life and her recording/songwriting. The parts where she would lose me were where she went off for pages on things like her menstrual cycle, her views on gender roles, and her views on prisoners/prisoners rights. Also, sometimes while writing about a particular subject, she would randomly start talking about something else? It got to the point where I would flip through those sections. I didn't have much interest in reading her views on the female reproductive cycle. I also found the seemingly random inclusion of song lyrics to be a little confusing at times. Sometimes it made sense, but others, it felt like the lyrics to an entire song were just there, for no discerning reason.I was also a little disappointed that the book ended in 2001. There was nothing about her current life, her children, her current partner. I hope there will be another book, which I will read if it's ever written.
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  • Samantha
    January 1, 1970
    I’m not sure exactly what I was expecting but somehow this wasn’t it. At first I thought I wanted more anecdotes behind my favorite songs then I was a bit disappointed to learn that the queer anthems I played on repeat (especially the song ‘Shameless’) as I went through my coming out phase were written about men, so maybe that’s not really what I wanted, maybe I want her music to exist in its own space in my mind. The way the book meanders feels like the way Ani is at her live shows. It seems sh I’m not sure exactly what I was expecting but somehow this wasn’t it. At first I thought I wanted more anecdotes behind my favorite songs then I was a bit disappointed to learn that the queer anthems I played on repeat (especially the song ‘Shameless’) as I went through my coming out phase were written about men, so maybe that’s not really what I wanted, maybe I want her music to exist in its own space in my mind. The way the book meanders feels like the way Ani is at her live shows. It seems she’s super uncomfortable talking about herself and instead pirouettes into worldly musings. I don’t know if I enjoyed that, but I’m not sure if I would’ve enjoyed it had it been the opposite. I think I need more time to process. Or maybe I need to read it again. I can say when I shut it I was sad it was over... hoping she writes another one about post-2001 life. I’m gonna give it four stars because it’s Ani.
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  • Jason Hood
    January 1, 1970
    Never have I loved or been more disappointed by a memoir. I was so desperate for the release of No Walls and The Reoccurring Dream that I purchased an advance reader copy months before its release. I was immediately enraptured by the book. I was inspired and moved, I took photos of paragraphs and wrote down memorable quotes. I appreciated and connected with memoir’s style and tempo of how it was written, I read through it in record time. Like Ani’s songs and poetry, I was invested and enamored w Never have I loved or been more disappointed by a memoir. I was so desperate for the release of No Walls and The Reoccurring Dream that I purchased an advance reader copy months before its release. I was immediately enraptured by the book. I was inspired and moved, I took photos of paragraphs and wrote down memorable quotes. I appreciated and connected with memoir’s style and tempo of how it was written, I read through it in record time. Like Ani’s songs and poetry, I was invested and enamored with her honesty and openness. My fervor ebbed when I felt fewer and fewer pages left in my right hand and the memoir came to an abrupt end, an abruptness Ani herself acknowledged. I know and believe Ani shared exactly what she wanted to in No Walls but, for the fan and reader, it felt like she hit a wall in what else she wanted to share. I remain an ardent and true fan and, like any fan, I wanted more.
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  • Desirae
    January 1, 1970
    This is the first memoir I've ever read that left me with a feeling that I somehow knew less about the person who was the subject of the book then I did when I first started it. If you are interested in Ani Difranco as an abstract and going through her life story in what can be best describe as 'checklist form' then it is worth slogging through.But, if you picked up this book expecting her memoir to be any sort of intimate look at the emotional inner workings of Ani Difranco as a human being the This is the first memoir I've ever read that left me with a feeling that I somehow knew less about the person who was the subject of the book then I did when I first started it. If you are interested in Ani Difranco as an abstract and going through her life story in what can be best describe as 'checklist form' then it is worth slogging through.But, if you picked up this book expecting her memoir to be any sort of intimate look at the emotional inner workings of Ani Difranco as a human being then you best prepare yourself to be greatly disappointed. I know I was.If I was truly honest, I'd admit to myself that if this was a memoir written by anyone else but Ani DiFranco there is no way I would ever give it 3 Stars.But then again, it is Ani Difranco. She has always made no bones about the fact that you can take her 'as is' or not at all.And 'as is' this book just barely makes a passing grade.
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  • Victoria
    January 1, 1970
    Thanks to Penguin/Viking for the chance to read this memoir. Unfortunately, the book is all over the place rapidly switching between ages (back and forth) making it confusing. I had to keep stopping and trying to tie what I was reading back to what age she was and reconciling facts about things that were over, but now suddenly happening. Add to that within the first 10-15% of the book, she had identified one, maybe two events that contained incorrect facts (I am from Buffalo and older than Ani). Thanks to Penguin/Viking for the chance to read this memoir. Unfortunately, the book is all over the place rapidly switching between ages (back and forth) making it confusing. I had to keep stopping and trying to tie what I was reading back to what age she was and reconciling facts about things that were over, but now suddenly happening. Add to that within the first 10-15% of the book, she had identified one, maybe two events that contained incorrect facts (I am from Buffalo and older than Ani). These items sent me to the Buffalo News online archives where I determined her memory is faulty in some areas that some basic fact-checking could fix. I quit reading around 20%. Just because she can write songs doesn’t mean she can write a memoir.
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