Monday, September 5, 2016

Hunger Makes Me a Modern Girl by Carrie Brownstein

I'm generally not a reader of celebrity memoirs.  I find that generally, celebrities don't write very well and don't necessarily have a voice that I want to hear, which is fine because their skill set may be elsewhere - acting, singing, whatever. But I heard positive things about this particular memoir so I picked it up.

For those of you that don't know, Carrie Brownstein was one of the founders of Sleater-Kinney, a Riot Grrl band in the early to mid nineties. That's not how I first became familiar with her - I became familiar with her through her absolutely brilliant and funny performances with Fred Armisen in Portlandia, on IFC. This book talks about Brownstein's life and her desire to be noticed and held in high esteem for her first love: music. She and her family lived in Redmond, WA and her proximity to Olympia and Seattle - the state's music centers - definitely had an impact on her. Music, after all, became her escape when her mother was hospitalized for struggles with anorexia and her father came out to her as homosexual.

The funnier, more endearing, and for me, more interesting moments, were at the beginning part of the book when I learned a lot about Brownstein's life growing up.  I live for and love those moments in books because I firmly believe that those moments give you insight into the type of person the narrator is NOW. One of my most favorite moments is when Carrie is doing a mock trial in school and she is assigned the role of the suspect's mother. Instead of sticking to script, Brownstein admits to being the killer in a moment of absolute drama that upsets both the teacher and the other players in the class, but which now gives me understanding as to how and why she's so wonderful in Portlandia.

I liked learning about the band but it wasn't the most interesting part of the book. It was interesting to learn how the band's main topic for their music was sexism - raising awareness of it and fighting it. She, for example, talked a lot about the double standards that existed in being covered by reporters - how they consistently asked about what it was like to be a female rock star band or what they were wearing on stage at a concert as opposed to the content of their music.  I respect that because those are still conversations that exist today - people talk more about Hilary's pantsuits then they do about Donald's suits (even though his suits are more of a political topic, considering that they were made overseas by people in jobs that were sent overseas by Mr. Trump himself).

Generally, a decent read especially if you are interested in the Riot Grrl movement.  

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