Amanda Palmer – The Art of Asking (4 stars)

A brilliantly frank portrayal of the life and art of the self-proclaimed rockstar

Amanda Palmer – The Art of Asking


There are many things that Amanda Palmer is not afraid to ask for. Wedding gowns, advice on angry red thigh spots and pianos are all just a tweet away for the self-identified rock star; but when she asked for money to help fund her new record, she inadvertently found herself at the centre of a discussion surrounding art and money. When is it OK to ask for help, and what is it OK to ask for?

In this frank portrait of the performer and musician’s life and career, Palmer details the things she has needed in order to make it to this point, and why it was that she asked for them. These vary from the dollar bills she busked for whilst working as an eight-foot bride statue, to a loan from her husband Neil Gaiman. Some were easier to ask for than others, but she makes a point of giving back, be it with a flower, a song or a repaid loan.

Ultimately, it was her Kickstarter campaign that shone the spotlight on Palmer's methods. Having been dropped by her label, she turned to the crowdfunding site to help put out her next record. The basic premise is that the public pledge money and she produces the goods, allowing her to work more directly with mutually adoring fans. Palmer eventually hit the million dollar mark, and has since been invited to deliver a TED talk about the venture.

This autobiographical work of carefully curated anecdotes and musings is an extension of that talk, exploring her journey to that six-figure sum and beyond. It is starkly honest, creatively crafted and beautifully written. At times the narrative’s message feels somewhat laboured, but that might simply be because Palmer is drilling the idea home: if you need it, try asking.

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