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Hunger Makes Me a Modern Girl
Cover of Hunger Makes Me a Modern Girl
Hunger Makes Me a Modern Girl
A Memoir
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From the guitarist of the pioneering band Sleater-Kinney, the book Kim Gordon says "everyone has been waiting for" and a New York Times Notable Book of 2015— a candid, funny, and deeply personal look...
From the guitarist of the pioneering band Sleater-Kinney, the book Kim Gordon says "everyone has been waiting for" and a New York Times Notable Book of 2015— a candid, funny, and deeply personal look...
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  • From the guitarist of the pioneering band Sleater-Kinney, the book Kim Gordon says "everyone has been waiting for" and a New York Times Notable Book of 2015— a candid, funny, and deeply personal look at making a life—and finding yourself—in music.

    Before Carrie Brownstein became a music icon, she was a young girl growing up in the Pacific Northwest just as it was becoming the setting for one the most important movements in rock history. Seeking a sense of home and identity, she would discover both while moving from spectator to creator in experiencing the power and mystery of a live performance. With Sleater-Kinney, Brownstein and her bandmates rose to prominence in the burgeoning underground feminist punk-rock movement that would define music and pop culture in the 1990s. They would be cited as “America’s best rock band” by legendary music critic Greil Marcus for their defiant, exuberant brand of punk that resisted labels and limitations, and redefined notions of gender in rock.
     
    HUNGER MAKES ME A MODERN GIRL is an intimate and revealing narrative of her escape from a turbulent family life into a world where music was the means toward self-invention, community, and rescue. Along the way, Brownstein chronicles the excitement and contradictions within the era’s flourishing and fiercely independent music subculture, including experiences that sowed the seeds for the observational satire of the popular television series Portlandia years later.
     
    With deft, lucid prose Brownstein proves herself as formidable on the page as on the stage. Accessibly raw, honest and heartfelt, this book captures the experience of being a young woman, a born performer and an outsider, and ultimately finding one’s true calling through hard work, courage and the intoxicating power of rock and roll.

Reviews-

  • Publisher's Weekly

    Starred review from November 16, 2015
    This strikingly expressive memoir from Brownstein, a writer, actress, and guitarist who created the critically acclaimed television show Portlandia, gambols over the sometimes steep hills of the quest for self-definition. Brownstein attended her first rock concert in fifth grade; she went to see Madonna, and was enough of fan to even try dressing like the star. Her mother nixed her outfit, but Madonna's show was still a "moment I'll never forget," she writes, "a total elation that momentarily erased any outline of darkness." Struggling though a chaotic family life, she finds herself through music, eventually co-founding the group Sleater-Kinney with her friend and then-lover, Corin Tucker. In the beginning, music mimics the turbulence in her life, as the band searches for ways to practice, write songs, cohere as a group, get along with one another, and establish themselves in the Seattle music scene as well as outside the US. As their reputation builds and they take their place at the forefront of the Riot Grrrls movement, Brownstein writes, "the unlit firecracker I carried around inside me in my youth... found a home in music." Brownstein is unafraid to reveal her emotional vulnerability, making this one of the smartest and most articulate music memoirs in recent years.

  • Kirkus

    Starred review from August 15, 2015
    First-class account of the life and times of an essential riot grrrl and the band she helped create. In this debut memoir, Brownstein, co-founder of the iconic punk band Sleater-Kinney, traces her evolution from the daughter of a secure but secretly unhappy home-closeted gay father, anorexic mother-to a gawky teenage rock fan and, ultimately, to becoming an artist in her own right. (She does not delve into her work on Portlandia.) The story of her life is also, inevitably, the story of her own band: meeting (and having a close but tortuous relationship with) co-founder Corin Tucker, the endless process of writing and co-writing songs and guitar leads, firing drummers (they went through three before striking gold with Janet Weiss), and the way life on the road both forges and fractures relationships. For Sleater-Kinney fans, the book is an absolute must, as it not only describes the rise of the band, but also delves into the making of every album. Furthermore, for a band in which song authorship has never been perfectly clear, Brownstein gives some insight as to who wrote what. More than that, the book is deeply personal, an act of self-discovery by a writer both telling her story and coming to understand herself at the same time. "In Sleater-Kinney," she writes, "each song, each album, built an infrastructure, fresh skeletons." The author writes focused and uncluttered prose, choosing the best, most telling details, as she recounts stories that show what it means to perform for the first time and what it means for a woman to be both a fan and a star in a staunchly male-dominated world. Unlike many rock star memoirs, there's no sense that this book is a chore or a marketing effort. It's revealing and riveting. On the page as in her songs, Brownstein finds the right words to give shape to experience.

    COPYRIGHT(2015) Kirkus Reviews, ALL RIGHTS RESERVED.

  • Booklist

    September 15, 2015
    Bookended with sea changes in the life of Sleater-Kinney, Brownstein's memoir is as much about the band as it is about herself (minus her Portlandia fame). Her descriptions of her troubled Pacific Northwest childhood set the stage for her arrival on Olympia's lively punk scene. There, amid sweaty clubs and the intellectualism of Evergreen College, she found a rich community and a serious collaborator in Corin Tucker, and Sleater-Kinney was born. Several successful albums later, however, the stresses of touring and Brownstein's health problems took their toll, culminating in an unsettling blowup, a scene she recounts in an apologetic tone. Brownstein flips easily from brainy ruminations on nostalgia, fandom, and record labels to trenchant stories about sexism, music journalism, and how a soy allergynot drugs or alcoholbrought her to her knees on tour. Though the scattershot tone makes for a lack of cohesiveness, her vivid Sleater-Kinney stories and descriptions of their albums are downright irresistible. Sleater-Kinney fans went nuts late last year when the trio broke their years-long hiatus, and Brownstein's memoir will give them more to salivate over.(Reprinted with permission of Booklist, copyright 2015, American Library Association.)

  • Library Journal

    June 1, 2015

    The acquisition of this memoir got huge coverage from venues such as the New York Times and Flavorwire, and why not? Brownstein is part of the feminist punk trio Sleater-Kinney, declared America's best rock band by Time in 2001 and the greatest living rock band by Stereogum (an online indie-music news outlet) in 2015, and Brownstein also helped develop and costars in IFC's award-winning sketch comedy series Portlandia. With a 75,000-copy first printing.

    Copyright 2015 Library Journal, LLC Used with permission.

  • Library Journal

    October 1, 2015

    Fans of Brownstein, cofounder of the seminal riot grrrl band Sleater-Kinney and cocreator of the IFC comedy series Portlandia, already know she's smart, sardonic, and, yes, modern. Her memoir delivers on all counts, offering a sharp-eyed tale of a singular time in music and culture that, as she puts it, "formed a boundary and a foundation for a lot of girls who had been undone by invisibility, including myself." It moves from an anxious childhood through disaffected teen years into restless young adulthood, coming of age as Sleater-Kinney grows into a hugely popular, critically acclaimed band. She exercises a songwriter's sense for the interplay of tone and detail to move easily between the specifics of her life and bigger-picture musings: on families--those we're born into, those we make--the creative process, the zeitgeist of the Pacific Northwest music scene, and the nature of fandom and nostalgia. Brownstein is a strong writer, self-aware without edging into self-indulgence. Her voice on the page is as distinctive as her music, packing a similar punch--introspective, complex, both funny and sad, ending with the band's breakup in 2006 and a particularly painful personal sequence. VERDICT A strong, engaging pop culture memoir: personal detail, a little dish, and a well-written look at what made the music, and the culture that spawned it, matter. [See Prepub Alert, 5/4/15.]--Lisa Peet, Library Journal

    Copyright 2015 Library Journal, LLC Used with permission.

  • Library Journal

    Starred review from October 1, 2015

    Fans of Brownstein, cofounder of the seminal riot grrrl band Sleater-Kinney and cocreator of the IFC comedy series Portlandia, already know she's smart, sardonic, and, yes, modern. Her memoir delivers on all counts, offering a sharp-eyed tale of a singular time in music and culture that, as she puts it, "formed a boundary and a foundation for a lot of girls who had been undone by invisibility, including myself." It moves from an anxious childhood through disaffected teen years into restless young adulthood, coming of age as Sleater-Kinney grows into a hugely popular, critically acclaimed band. She exercises a songwriter's sense for the interplay of tone and detail to move easily between the specifics of her life and bigger-picture musings: on families--those we're born into, those we make--the creative process, the zeitgeist of the Pacific Northwest music scene, and the nature of fandom and nostalgia. Brownstein is a strong writer, self-aware without edging into self-indulgence. Her voice on the page is as distinctive as her music, packing a similar punch--introspective, complex, both funny and sad, ending with the band's breakup in 2006 and a particularly painful personal sequence. VERDICT A strong, engaging pop culture memoir: personal detail, a little dish, and a well-written look at what made the music, and the culture that spawned it, matter. [See Prepub Alert, 5/4/15.]--Lisa Peet, Library Journal

    Copyright 2015 Library Journal, LLC Used with permission.

  • Publisher's Weekly

    January 25, 2016
    In performing the audio edition of her new memoir, Brownstein, creator and star of TV comedy series Portlandia and a member of the band Sleater-Kinney, maintains an engaging presence with her conversational style. Despite both the emotionally charged nature of Sleater-Kinney’s feminist-punk music and the coming-of-age/relationship themes in the story line, Brownstein opts for an understated emotional tone, preferring to leave the screaming on stage. The recording does include clips of original music by Brownstein, in addition to an interview in which she discusses the process of penning her book. One of the most intriguing questions she tackles is the almost total absence of references to Portlandia from her autobiographical narrative. Even listeners not steeped in indie music can at least appreciate the display of artistic devotion. A Riverhead hardcover.

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A Memoir
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