Music Memoirs: Girl in a Band – Kim Gordon & Going into the City – Robert Christgau

Gordon is, of course, one of the founders of the seminal alt rock band Sonic Youth. She is an artist as well as a musician and has been a musical mentor and inspiration to a generation of women. Her memoir gives readers a taste of a life in New York during the 1980s post punk art scene. It’s an eagerly-awaited self-portrait that captures both her personal growth and paints an evocative portrait of influential period in American musical culture.

As you might expect, there’s a lot of media: a first serial in Vogue, coverage in Interview, Marie Claire, GQ, Nylon, Harper’s Bazaar, Bust, Vice, Artforum, Flavorwire, NPR’s Fresh Air and Flavorwire (which notes that “It’s even better than you’re probably expecting.”)

In this intriguing memoir, Sonic Youth founding member Kim Gordon describes a life in art and music that led her through the undergrounds of Los Angeles and New York City, a journey framed by the dissolution of her 27-year marriage to bandmate Thurston Moore….The strength of Gordon’s prose lies in her evocation of places—the dappled light of L.A. canyons, the clamor and steaming heat of Hong Kong, the N.Y.C. loft scene. The descent of her older brother, Keller, into schizophrenia shadows the first half of the book; Moore’s adultery the second. Although Gordon includes expected list of celebrities she met throughout life, her unique sensibility never fades.”
Publishers Weekly

“Written with the same cool passion she brings to her lyrics, Gordon delivers a generous look at life inside the punk whirlwind.”
Kirkus

“Fans who idealized Kim Gordon’s musical and domestic partnership with Thurston Moore were shocked at the news that Moore’s infidelity caused the breakup of not only their marriage, but also of the beloved indie band Sonic Youth. Now Gordon writes about her life before, during and after Sonic Youth in this intriguing memoir, a snapshot of the downtown music and art scene in New York City, her California childhood, her schizophrenic brother, and much more.
— Carol Schneck Varner, Schuler Books and Music, Okemos, MI

Girl in a Band: A Memoir (9780062295897) by Kim Gordon. $27.99 hardcover. 2/24/15 on sale.

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Love him or hate him, there’s no denying that Christgau has been an influential voice in our cultural conversation for  the last half century. While this memoir might offer more of his personal journey than some readers want, Questlove kind of nails why serious fans of music will want to check this book out for themselves: “Christgau is the last true-blue record critic on earth. [He’s] pretty much who I make my records for. He’s . . . the last of that whole Lester Bangs generation of record reviewers, and I still heed his words.”

Media coverage starts with a Rolling Stone  first serial, a Vulture second serial, NYTBR, NPR’s Weekend All Things Considered, Vanity Fair, Grantland, Spin and Time.

This sprawling, rambunctious, memoir by rock critic Christgau is sometimes tedious and dreary, often arrogant, yet nevertheless brimming with insight….A peripatetic forager among the fields of art, Christgau stops along the way to relish Dostoyevski’s Crime and Punishment (‘He conveys the pain of poverty in physical detail and with psychological acuity’) and Truffaut’s Jules and Jim: the film “changed my life.” Even more than the arts, Christgau’s romantic relationships… ‘constituted an emotional education more action-packed than my professional progress.’ In the late 1960s, Christgau rose to the top of a pack of such rock critics as Paul Williams and Richard Meltzer, and he declares, ‘like most young critics… I was pretty damn sure of myself.’
 Publishers Weekly

Often maddening, always thought-provoking . . . With Pauline Kael, Christgau is arguably one of the two most important American mass-culture critics of the second half of the 20th century.”
— Jody Rosen

Going into the City: Portrait of a Critic as a Young Man (9780062238795) by Robert Christgau. $27.99 hardcover. 2/24/15 on sale.

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