So Real It Hurts
"So Real It Hurts is the perfect title for this collection. It's a mission statement. A few bleeding slices straight from the butcher shop. A sampler from an enormous archive of work that will, no doubt, be pored over by grad students, book lovers, film historians, music nerds and straight-up perverts a hundred years from now." —Anthony Bourdain, from the IntroductionThrough personal essays, interviews, and poetic verse, punk musician and cultural icon Lydia Lunch claws and rakes at the reader's conscience in this powerful, uninhibited feminist collection. Oscillating between provocative celebrations of her own defiant nature and nearly tender ruminations on the debilitating effects of poverty, abuse, and environmental pollution, along with a visceral revenge fantasy against misogynistic men, Lydia Lunch presents her exploits without apology, daring the reader to judge her while she details the traumas and trials that have shaped her into the legendary figure she's become. Inserted between these biting personal essays, Lunch's thoughtful cultural insights convey a widely-shared desire to forestall inevitable cultural amnesia and solidify a legacy for her predecessors and peers. Her interview with Hubert Selby Jr. and profile of Herbert Hunke, her short unromanticized histories of No Wave and of the late Sixties, and her scathing examination of the monetization of counterculture (thanks, Vivienne Westwood!) all serve to reinforce the notion that, while it may appear that there are no more heroes, we are actually just looking for heroes in the wrong places. The worthy idols of the past have been obscured by more profitable historical narratives, but Lunch challenges us to dig deeper.So Real It Hurts pulls the reader into a world that is entirely hers—one in which she exacts vengeance against predators with an enviable ease and exerts an almost-sexual dominance over authority, never permitting those with power to hold on to it too tightly.

So Real It Hurts Details

TitleSo Real It Hurts
Author
LanguageEnglish
ReleaseJul 9th, 2019
PublisherSeven Stories Press
Rating
GenreMusic, Writing, Essays, Nonfiction, Sexuality, Poetry, Autobiography, Memoir

So Real It Hurts Review

  • Niklas Pivic
    January 1, 1970
    As I read Lydia Lunch's autobiography, "Paradoxia: A Predator's Diary", I kept thinking two things: a. wow, she's been through a lot of things in her life so far, and b. she's not on planet Earth.This book, which is a short collection of articles, ruminations, interviews, and monographs on a variety of subjects—including some poetry—is much more bound down.Lunch being Lunch, is not dinner; nor dog food. Caustic is the word that drips throughout these different stories. As Anthony Bourdain says i As I read Lydia Lunch's autobiography, "Paradoxia: A Predator's Diary", I kept thinking two things: a. wow, she's been through a lot of things in her life so far, and b. she's not on planet Earth.This book, which is a short collection of articles, ruminations, interviews, and monographs on a variety of subjects—including some poetry—is much more bound down.Lunch being Lunch, is not dinner; nor dog food. Caustic is the word that drips throughout these different stories. As Anthony Bourdain says in his introduction:Lydia Lunch has, she says, never felt shame. She has loudly, consistently, and with astonishing persistence told the world what she thinks—giving exactly zero fucks what the world thought in return. Since arriving in New York in 1976, the product of an abusive and epically awful childhood, she has been nobody’s victim. She became, instead, a self-described predator, never stopping, always hunting—cutting a swath through the cultural jungle as the leader of the band Teenage Jesus and the Jerks, a performance artist, an underground film icon, and a truly extraordinary writer.During a period that is still considered a golden time for art, music, and transgression, she was always the smartest person in the room, which is rarely a comfortable thing to be. She continues to write sentences so ballistically perfect, so lethally designed, that they always hit their targets—and with deadly effect.It's easier to get into Lunch's oeuvre by digging into it:We did not need an election. We needed an insurrection. An absolute overthrow of a corrupt cabal, a kleptocratic corporate cock-ocracy that pisses on the poor, wages endless wars, bankrupts entire nations, and has an incarceration rate that is in itself criminal: 5 percent of the world’s population; 25 percent of the world’s prisoners; 65 million Americans with criminal records, mostly for petty drug charges; 2.3 million in correctional facilities; 6.5 million on parole. And you wanted me to vote. You’re fucking joking, right?That paragraph, to me, is indicative of Lunch's main strength as a writer; she's straightforward, almost exact, and doesn't give a toss about others think. She gives herself off as libertine, multi-dimensional, and manifest.Even some of her one-liners are exact and cut away debris:I admit it: the American way of life has turned me into a death-defying murder junkie where all the killers are heroes.At the worst of times, I think Lunch wants to kick up dirt just because she's bored; her writing bears the hallmarks of the easily bored and ready-to-burst person. At the best of times, just that works to her advantage. Her writing is also a lot more on point nowadays than it ever has been, and more coherent:My maternal instincts kick in to spite me. I hate to hear babies cry. Hell, I hate to hear anyone cry. It’s the most obnoxious form of noise pollution. And if all it takes to temporarily abate this skin-crawling caterwaul is one fell swoop and a snatch that lifts the little bantamweight crying time bomb into my arms, a quick tight squeeze, and a peck on the cheek, who am I to argue? After all, “mother” knows best.Which both amazes and horrifies the real birth mother, who enjoys the respite, yet whose first instinct is to grab the little critter and flee as far away as humanly possible from this obviously over-sexualized baby freak, rescuing her precious little angel from unforeseen and imaginary evil, fearing an even more [re]percussive backlash, a rendition of The Terror of Tiny Town’s latest lung-busting operetta. Mommy usually gives in, baby wins out, and I’m stuck playing bouncy-wouncy with the twenty-pound flesh ball for the next eight hours. Not a problem. I understand children. It’s their mothers I can’t fucking stand.Her monograph about insomnia recalled William S. Burroughs for me:I gave up nicotine, sugar, and spice, and I even tried a light box. Didn’t help. I quit coffee. Ha! Anyone who has suffered from decades-long insomnia knows damn well that that ain’t gonna last. You need all the caffeine you can suck down to function above that semi-somnambulant state of dream-deprived sleep that results in a numb narcosis, a permanent twilight zone, rarely fully conscious, never completely asleep. Exhausted, but jacked up, like an electric rigor mortis that short-circuits the neurotransmitters, creating a dense fog of chronic irritation that can cloud even the simplest of tasks.Some of her paragraphs read like the best of Hunter S. Thompson:I woke up bloody and puking. Projectile vomiting. All over the table. All over his dope. All over his boots. Down the front of my slip. Great heaving waves of gelatinous funk shooting out of my mouth and nose. Thick rich fists of sour phlegm cascading in golden arcs all over the room. I pissed myself and started to laugh. The bastard had almost killed me. I’d never done heroin. He knew that. It just wasn’t my trip. I wasn’t looking for nirvana, a velvet womb, or a soft euphoric haze of interstellar space to melt into. I dug the shit that jacked up the irritation level. Barbs and booze. Coke or speed. LSD. Something that accelerated my already jacked-up metabolism. I wasn’t interested in slowing shit down. Smoothing it out. Softening the edges. I wanted to keep the edges rough, like the one I had just hit my head against. The one that had finally banged a bit of sense into my thick nugget. Never, under any circumstances, will I ever again answer the door at 5:45 a.m. on a Sunday morning.Sure, she may lack the erudition that both blighted and elated writing from people like Jean Genet, Burroughs, and even Hubert Selby Jr.—an interview with whom is included in this book—but that often works for her, when she keeps her mind together; that's merely how I personally feel.Her monograph about Herbert Huncke enlightened me of his existence. Her short interview with Selby Jr. is nice, mainly because it's good and doesn't drag on. I don't know if she has it, but I think her seeming sense of getting bored quickly is something that also is her biggest self-made blessing.Ladies, how did we manage to devolve from sacred prostitutes to corporate whores? From warrior queens to pop porn princesses? We’ve gone from Kali to Courtney Love, from Medusa to Madonna, from Lilith to Liv Tyler, from Emma Goldman to Uma Thurman, from Angela Davis to Lil’ Kim, from Patty Hearst to Paris fucking Hilton.Her public speech on Donald Trump and his running legacy of kleptocracy is beauteous to read:And how fucking appropriate for this blustering baboon to name his son Barron. BARRON! More like barren, which is what this country is going to be after instating an idiot pawn, who denies climate change while sucking on big industry’s dick for the better part of his so-called career, as head of the Environmental Protection Agency as floods, mudslides, hurricanes, tornadoes, volcanoes and natural disasters proliferate, incurring billions of dollars in disaster relief that will never be paid to average homeowners, who barely have $500 of savings in their bank accounts. As the criminal cabal in the White House just passed a $700 billion defense budget, making America’s military larger than that of China, Russia, Saudi Arabia, the UK, France, India, and Japan combined.All in all, this is a short, highly potent, and not-giving-a-fuck anthology of writing from Lydia Lunch. Read it, act, and move on to her music.
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  • OutlawPoet
    January 1, 1970
    So, the very first thing you need to know is that almost all of these essays were originally published elsewhere. This means if you're a huge fan of Lydia Lunch, you may have read almost all of these before.Now, I picked this up knowing almost nothing about Lydia Lunch. I started reading and I stopped. You see, I wasn't sure what I was dealing with. Was this some rage-filled mash up of Holden Caulfield and Milo Yiannopoulos with a far left bent? Or was this authentic?So I decided to read *about* So, the very first thing you need to know is that almost all of these essays were originally published elsewhere. This means if you're a huge fan of Lydia Lunch, you may have read almost all of these before.Now, I picked this up knowing almost nothing about Lydia Lunch. I started reading and I stopped. You see, I wasn't sure what I was dealing with. Was this some rage-filled mash up of Holden Caulfield and Milo Yiannopoulos with a far left bent? Or was this authentic?So I decided to read *about* Ms. Lunch before going back to this. And I'm so glad I did. I discovered a funny, raw, brash woman who bleeds authenticity in everything she does.And then I settle in to re-read this one.In So Real It Hurts, Lunch bares her soul in these essays. She doesn't care if you like them or not. She doesn't care if you agree or not. She simply tells her truth as she sees it and it's wonderfully refreshing.Some of the essays do betray a bit of sadness, many anger, but most have a slant, sarcastic view of the world that shows some innate humor.And then there's her essay about Trump. Here she leaves the humor and the wicked slant aside and she says everything she feels. And it is blistering.I like her. I want to learn more about her. And I'm very glad I read this
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  • Kevin
    January 1, 1970
    Lydia Lunch, the musician, poet and pioneer of the No Wave music genre (that rejected commercial New Wave music) was hailed by the New York Times as "the angriest punk of '70s New York." So Real It Hurts proves that more than 40 years into her career, she's lost none of her blistering anger and astringent eloquence. In his introduction, the late Anthony Bourdain wrote, "During a period that is still considered a golden time for art, music, and transgression, she was always the smartest person in Lydia Lunch, the musician, poet and pioneer of the No Wave music genre (that rejected commercial New Wave music) was hailed by the New York Times as "the angriest punk of '70s New York." So Real It Hurts proves that more than 40 years into her career, she's lost none of her blistering anger and astringent eloquence. In his introduction, the late Anthony Bourdain wrote, "During a period that is still considered a golden time for art, music, and transgression, she was always the smartest person in the room."This slim collection of potent essays, profane rants and astute cultural critiques sometimes reads like the writings of a hypnotic Beat poet. On her insomnia, she writes, "Exhausted, but jacked up, like an electric rigor mortis that short-circuits the neurotransmitters, creating a dense fog of chronic irritation that can cloud even the simplest of tasks." Elsewhere, her opinions are strong and original. Ruminating on war, she opines, "Maybe war is just menstrual envy. If men bled every month as much as I do, maybe they wouldn't have such incredible bloodlust."Lunch's lacerating autobiographical essays detail her history of sexual and substance abuse and mental health problems. The powerful essay "1967" describes the post-traumatic stress she suffered from the ages of five to eight from the race riots raging outside her front door, as well as the war inside her home "as the favored daughter of a door-to-door salesman who couldn't keep his hands to himself." These take-no-prisoner essays are not for the faint-hearted, but they are confrontational, confessional, electrifying and unforgettable. Confrontational singer/poet/activist Lydia Lunch's "So Real It Hurts" collects her electrifying and unforgettable essays, rants and cultural critiques.
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  • Richard
    January 1, 1970
    Four and a half stars, actually. For fans this is what we've come to expect, love, and admire. For the newly initiated, you might wish to check your physical and psychic health before proceeding as you are about to be transformed as Ms. Lunch takes you on a journey through truth seeking and myth making as distilled her forever toxic, forever cleansing mind, body, and soul. This is a narrative of her ride through life, her experiences, the horrors, the triumphs, the humor. I find her use of langu Four and a half stars, actually. For fans this is what we've come to expect, love, and admire. For the newly initiated, you might wish to check your physical and psychic health before proceeding as you are about to be transformed as Ms. Lunch takes you on a journey through truth seeking and myth making as distilled her forever toxic, forever cleansing mind, body, and soul. This is a narrative of her ride through life, her experiences, the horrors, the triumphs, the humor. I find her use of language and narrative intoxicating. The essays are general short. Many have been published elsewhere. The book is an excellent, quick read that had me smiling throughout. I'm glad that it was concise and sad that it has ended.
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  • Angela
    January 1, 1970
    Classic LL. Extremely thought provoking, disturbing, and honest.
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