Carrie has a soothing voice. Not in that cheesy hotel spa music kind of way. Soothing like having a long visit with an old friend you haven't heard from in a while. Her reading of Hunger Makes Me A Modern Girl is personal, conversational even, making passages where she talks about suffering personal illnesses while touring, or desire, even more poignant and vulnerable than reading them from the page.
The thing about listening to audio books read by the author, especially in memoir, is that their stories become more intimate, as if the author is speaking directly to you. The actual act of reading for an audiobook recording is an art. I don't think I exaggerate - it requires, almost like radio, an authentic voice, a voice that is clear and sure of itself. Carrie's reading mirrored her honest and unguarded prose, and I found myself charmed by her as I am by characters in fictions that I love.
Hunger Makes Me A Modern Girl has the outward tenants of a memoir. It depicts Carrie's childhood, growing up, being in and out of Sleater Kinney, what her present looks like, but it's more than that, too. It's a portrait of an era in music and culture written from the perspective of someone that lived and influenced it, without having a shred of ego or self righteousness. In fact, Carrie usually defects to modesty and humorous self-deprecation, never taking herself too seriously, but brilliantly portraying the serious work that she and Sleater Kinney did in writing & performing their music. As much as her memoir is about Carrie Brownstein: life of musician and creative, it's also about the Olympia punk scene in the 90's, the impact of the riot grrrl movement, and touring abroad before cell phones and the internet.
Hunger Makes Me A Modern Girl made me think back, with pleasure, to what I was listening to when I first discovered Sleater Kinney at 16. Here's a self-curated playlist inspired by her memoir, and very reflective of what was shaping me circa 2006:
- Teen Age Riot, Sonic Youth 1988
- Acid Food, Mogwai 2006
- No Name No. 5, Elliot Smith 1997
- Male Model, Sleater Kinney 2000
- Barnacles, Ugly Cassanova 2002
- YFLMD, Giant Drag 2005
- TKO, Le Tigre 2004
- Chemical, Chemical, Pretty Girls Make Graves 2004
- Capturing Moods, Rilo Kiley 2002
- I Don't Blame You, Cat Power 2003
- Nights of the Living Dead, Tilly and the Wall 2004
- The Skin of My Yellow Country Teeth, Clap Your Hands Say Yeah 2005
- My Boyfriend's Back, The Raveonettes 2005
- Holland, 1945, Neutral Milk Hotel 1998