Hunger Makes Me a Modern Girl by Carrie Brownstein
All we ever wanted was just to play songs and shows that mattered to people, that mattered to us. Music that summed up the messiness of life, that mitigated that nagging fear of hopelessness, loneliness and death.
Before I read this book, I didn’t know that much about Carrie Brownstein. I, of course, know her from the hilarious show Portlandia, but I hadn’t heard of the punk band Sleater-Kinney before. I really love Portlandia so when I had the chance, I was eager to learn more about Ms. Brownstein.
Carrie starts by telling us about her bumpy childhood and the relationships she has with her family members. She paints a picture of an endearing girl, unsure of herself, troubled not only by teenage angst, but by a disease that plagued her mother. In these times, she would turn to music and comedy.
When she moves on to her time in university, she begins to delve deeper into her love of music. This was the early 90s and the heyday of the Riot Grrrl punk movement. Carrie was in the pacific northwest of the US and was in the epicentre of a lot of this music at the time. The way she talks about it makes you feel like you are right there with her, alongside her as she takes part in this music evolution.
Carrie is an amazing writer. She gets to the heart of what it’s like to want to do something that matters, to express yourself, be an artist. She speaks honestly of trouble, loss, self-doubt, friendship, love, music, and everything in between. Her memoir is relatable, evocative, and totally engrossing. She’s a very intelligent woman and it shows.
Though I came to know Carrie through her humour, there’s not much of that in this book. If you’re looking for laughs, this isn’t the place. But if you’re looking for a well written, insightful memoir-meets-cultural-history, you’ll love this.
Beth is the founder and editor of Fuelled by Fiction. She is a twenty-something east coast Canadian girl who loves writing about books and feminism.