‘Hunger Makes Me A Modern Girl:’ A ‘typical’ band story fills the pages of this memoir

By: Anna Shapiro ~Staff Writer~

Photo courtesy of timeout.com | Carrie Brownstein’s memoir captures the experience of being a young woman, a born performer and an outsider, and ultimately finding one’s true calling.

Carrie Brownstein’s memoir, “Hunger Makes Me a Modern Girl,” is in many ways a typical “I was in a successful band and then everything fell apart,” story. It was featured on NPR’s Best books of 2015 concierge.

I am often initially critical of writing by people famous for doing other things, so I didn’t head into the book with very high expectations. Because of my low expectations, I was not disappointed. As stated earlier, this was a very typical story of a band where enough becomes enough and things have to end. One striking difference between this and many other band memoirs is that the “enough” part does not come along in the form of drug abuse or fighting bandmates. Instead, the band grew sick and tired of the touring lifestyle.

For someone known for writing songs and her work on the TV show “Portlandia,” Brownstein turns out to be a rather decent writer. She aptly chronicles both the good and bad of Sleater-Kinney, and even has some thought-provoking insights that she shares with the reader.

“But I wanted our shows not just to be galvanic, I wanted to destroy the room. More than that, I wanted to obliterate myself, to unlock and uncork the anger, to disappear into the sound and into the music,” Brownstein said.

And yet, while the book did have some compelling moments, it did not compel me completely. While “Hunger Makes Me a Modern Girl” is not something I would recommend as a “mustread” to any old reader, it certainly carries an appeal to anyone interested in bands and the music scene.

Ultimately, I like Carrie Brownstein. I like her band and I like the Riot Grrrl routes from which her band was founded, but as someone with little interest in the ins and outs of being in a band, I don’t think her book is half as good as her music.