Carrie Brownstein – Hunger Makes Me a Modern Girl: A Memoir (4 stars)

Sleater-Kinney guitarist and Portlandia co-creator tells her inspirational story

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Carrie Brownstein – Hunger Makes Me a Modern Girl: A Memoir

Exceptionally talented guitarist and co-creator of Portlandia, Carrie Brownstein takes the reader through her childhood, evolution as a musician through the 1990s in Olympia and behind the scenes on Sleater-Kinney tours and album recordings up until 2006 in a revelatory, poignant and genuinely funny memoir.

Brownstein’s candid account of her mother’s anorexia, her father’s eventual coming out and her own battle with anxiety is nicely balanced with witty stories of life on the road. She articulates her unconditional love for fellow band members, Corin Tucker and Janet Weiss, as if speaking to a close friend and her prose flows like an intimate but animated conversation that drives home what a special and formative part music has played in her life.

Unguarded excitement rolls off the page when speaking of her appreciation for the riot grrrl music scene, including bands such as Bikini Kill, Bratmobile and Heavens to Betsy whose lyrics and energy encouraged Brownstein to embrace her feminism. On the subject of her time with Sleater-Kinney and their hiatus Brownstein is introspective, never wishing to speculate on anyone else’s feelings but her own. She navigates this world with a raw vulnerability, especially as she divulges information on her failing mental health towards the latter end of their tour back in 2006.

Ultimately this memoir reads like a rich and rewarding coming of age novel where the protagonist confronts her fears in a really cool setting while hanging out with the likes of Jack White and Eddie Vedder and playing dares with Beth Ditto. Disarmingly honest and self-deprecating, it’s inspirational reading for aspiring musicians, outsiders and anyone trying to make sense of their life.

Out now, published by Virago.

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