Hunger Makes Me a Modern Girl (CBR8 #35)

This is another in a long series of books which I picked up to read solely on the recommendation of my fellow Cannonballers, however I probably should have paid slightly closer attention (again, nothing new there).  While Carrie Brownstein’s memoir chronicles life from an interesting perspective, it did not hold my attention and instead left me wanting.

ModernLove read this book earlier this year, and gave it four stars. It was her assertion that she was not someone who had listened to Sleater-Kinney (Brownstein’s band) or seen more than an episode of Portlandia (her show with Fred Armisen) and still found this work relatable and well written which convinced me that since I shared those qualities, I too should read this book. ModernLove wasn’t wrong, Brownstein constructs her narrative in a manner which does not assume that you are overly familiar with her work or the Pacific Northwest. This was all good.

The problem for me was in the actual writing of the book. This memoir was too focused on the subject, it was too focused on the “me” and the “I”. Yes, Brownstein does many things well – she is critical of herself and her place in the narrative she is telling us. BUT, I found this book to be simultaneously overwritten and narrow in scope. It was very disappointing because Brownstein obviously has talent and a great vocabulary, but other than being impressed with her word choice I found myself skimming overly long paragraphs waiting for Brownstein to return to her through line. She also does not expand her story out to the universal, in being circumspect and critical of her own self-importance Brownstein appears to miss the opportunity to bring in outside perspectives.  As janniethestrange said in her review “she repeatedly says that she spends ‘too much time’ in her head and that disconnect is evident throughout the book, leaving me little to connect with on an emotional level.”

This leaves me sorrowfully ranking this book at two stars, I wish I enjoyed the book as much as I was interested in the story of someone who has managed to navigate the minefield of being a woman and simultaneously living an artistic life. If only all the chapters were as moving as the chapter about the sexism , much of it backhanded, which she has experienced along the way.

This book was read and reviewed as part of the charitable Cannonball Read.


About Katie

Museum educator, caffiene junkie, book lover, student of history, overall goofball.

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