Girl in a Band by Kim Gordon
A Memoir

72%

29 Critic Reviews

The descent of her older brother, Keller, into schizophrenia shadows the first half of the book; Moore’s adultery the second. Although Gordon includes expected list of celebrities she met throughout life, her unique sensibility never fades.
-Publishers Weekly

Synopsis

NEW YORK TIMES BESTSELLER

Kim Gordon, founding member of Sonic Youth, fashion icon, and role model for a generation of women, now tells her story—a memoir of life as an artist, of music, marriage, motherhood, independence, and as one of the first women of rock and roll, written with the lyricism and haunting beauty of Patti Smith's Just Kids.

Often described as aloof, Kim Gordon opens up as never before in Girl in a Band. Telling the story of her family, growing up in California in the '60s and '70s, her life in visual art, her move to New York City, the men in her life, her marriage, her relationship with her daughter, her music, and her band, Girl in a Band is a rich and beautifully written memoir.

Gordon takes us back to the lost New York of the 1980s and '90s that gave rise to Sonic Youth, and the Alternative revolution in popular music. The band helped build a vocabulary of music—paving the way for Nirvana, Hole, Smashing Pumpkins and many other acts. But at its core, Girl in a Band examines the route from girl to woman in uncharted territory, music, art career, what partnership means—and what happens when that identity dissolves.

Evocative and edgy, filled with the sights and sounds of a changing world and a transformative life, Girl in a Band is the fascinating chronicle of a remarkable journey and an extraordinary artist.

 

About Kim Gordon

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Kim Gordon is an artist, musician, producer, fashion designer, writer and actress.She is a founding member of the experimental post-punk band Sonic Youth. Following the breakup of Sonic Youth, Gordon formed the group Body/Head. A collection of her early critical art writing entitled Is It My Body? was released by Sternberg Press in January 2014. Recent art exhibitions include a show of paintings through the Gagosian Gallery in Los Angeles and a major survey show at White Columns in New York. Gordon currently shows with 303 Gallery in New York City. She lives in Northampton, Massachusetts; New York; and Los Angeles.
 
Published February 24, 2015 by Dey Street Books. 293 pages
Genres: Biographies & Memoirs, Humor & Entertainment, Arts & Photography. Non-fiction
Bestseller Status:
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Critic reviews for Girl in a Band
All: 29 | Positive: 26 | Negative: 3

Kirkus

Above average
on Nov 20 2014

Gordon goes into intriguing detail on specific songs and doesn’t hold back on Moore or other figures, even ones with worse disasters than her own...Written with the same cool passion she brings to her lyrics, Gordon delivers a generous look at life inside the punk whirlwind.

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Publishers Weekly

Above average
on Jan 09 2015

The descent of her older brother, Keller, into schizophrenia shadows the first half of the book; Moore’s adultery the second. Although Gordon includes expected list of celebrities she met throughout life, her unique sensibility never fades.

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NY Times

Good
Reviewed by Questlove on Mar 10 2015

The overall feeling is one of levelheadedness, a little resignation, lots of anger and a permanent love of the power of art. She stays cool because she is cool, even in those rare moments when she’s not.

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NY Times

Good
Reviewed by The Associated Press on Feb 23 2015

Those looking for a postmortem on Gordon and Moore's marriage won't be disappointed in the memoir, which is bookended by a dissection of how the relationship came to an end. But the more vivid scenes that Gordon paints are the thrills in the 1980s when Sonic Youth came together in the hot bed of creativity that was New York at the time...

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Guardian

Above average
Reviewed by Kitty Empire on Mar 01 2015

Anyone who had fallen for Gordon’s steely cool – and the hope that an unconventional woman could have art, love, freedom, success, and a family – won’t be disappointed to learn that Gordon was often feeling her way, just like the rest of us...Throughout, Gordon is front and centre, solo – a suburban, middle-class girl, but complicated.

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Guardian

Above average
Reviewed by Emily Witt on Feb 12 2015

What could simply be described as a story of two people who fell in love and then fell out of love with all of the usual emotional squalor is thus depicted in terms of the midlife crisis...The plot is not quite Medea, but this memoir is a kind of setting ablaze of a life’s work that for Gordon is now inextricable from heartbreak.

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Financial Times

Below average
Reviewed by David Cheal on Feb 28 2015

It’s hard not to contrast with Slits guitarist Viv Albertine’s wonderful Clothes, Clothes, Clothes. Music, Music, Music. Boys, Boys, Boys (2014): women in bands have great stories but Gordon’s tale suffers in comparison with Albertine’s warmth and wit.

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LA Times

Good
Reviewed by Sara Marcus on Feb 19 2015

Gordon seems to have emerged from the split more powerful than ever, with a reinvigorated visual-art career, reported legions of potential suitors, a new band (Body/Head) and now this book. Still, the sense of loss is never far from these pages.

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Toronto Star

Above average
Reviewed by Patricia Hluchy on Feb 21 2015

Some expected that Gordon’s book would have the evocative power of Just Kids, Patti Smith’s memoir of her start in New York. But Gordon’s writing has none of Smith’s passion and poetic sensibility. Still, Gordon offers some great aperçus.

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The Independent

Above average
Reviewed by Fiona Sturges on Feb 14 2015

It remains a source of exasperation to Kim Gordon that...she was forever being asked by interviewers: “What’s it like being the girl in the band?” Nevertheless, it’s a question that she answers at length in her frank and bittersweet memoir. Along with chronicling her early life in the California suburbs, her art school days...

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The Telegraph

Good
Reviewed by Ben Thompson on Feb 19 2015

The overall tone of Girl in a Band is bittersweet, rather than bitter. The reader's awareness that Gordon's resources of rapture are finite makes her a more sympathetic character as a narrator than wedded bliss would have allowed. It also lends an elegiac kick to her recollections of the lost New York netherworld...

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The Boston Globe

Above average
Reviewed by Clea Simon on Feb 25 2015

Writing in the intellectual, almost impassive voice fans will recognize from her on-stage style, Gordon explores the reasons for both the relationship’s golden aura and its eventual collapse...When she sticks with firsthand experience, however, Gordon is smart and appealing, her sharp edges cutting through to human truths.

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BookPage

Good
Reviewed by Lauren Bufferd on Feb 25 2015

Gordon’s honesty provides a remarkable window into a personality often regarded as the Queen of Cool...Gordon’s willingness to take stock, not just rehash old wounds, and recreate herself, even honestly admitting that she doesn’t know quite who she is yet, make Girl in a Band the story of a true artist’s journey.

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USA Today

Good
Reviewed by Brian Mansfield on Feb 24 2015

Girl in a Band likely would have taken a very different shape 10 years ago, before all the upheaval, or a decade from now, when distance would allow a different perspective. The title may promise a persona, but it's one Gordon quickly shatters. The book delivers a person.

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Denver Post

Above average
Reviewed by Michael Lindgren on Mar 08 2015

...Gordon is so fundamentally likable, and the period she chronicles so febrile and essential, that one feels inclined to overlook her book's somewhat glancing, provisional feel. If "Girl in a Band" is uneven, it's for good reason: "It's hard," Gordon says with moving openness, "to write about a love story with a broken heart."

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The Sydney Morning Herald

Above average
Reviewed by Lucy Sussex on Mar 01 2015

The book begins with the break-up, Gordon's righteous fury, among its most powerful writing...Gordon notes that Moore always respected her creativity, and was a good father to Coco. Imperceptibly, however, they had grown apart, and then hormones did the rest. This book is not gossipy, though Gordon has many famous friends.

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Slate

Good
Reviewed by Geeta Dayal on Mar 18 2015

Girl in a Band feels appealingly rough around the edges; the rare window it offers into Gordon’s life leaves the reader with a more nuanced perspective.

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Independent.ie

Good
Reviewed by John Meagher on Mar 08 2015

While he might feel this book is an exercise in revenge from a scorned spouse, it's ultimately a warts-and-all look-back at a life that's been gloriously unpredictable. Sonic Youth may be finished, but Kim Gordon certainly isn't.

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The National

Good
Reviewed by James McNai on Feb 26 2015

Still, it’s the less predictable, late-onset train wreck of her own marriage that Gordon keeps coming back to. She and her ­husband were widely viewed as the golden couple,..Gordon’s memoir, however, is far from conventional. Always inventively ruminative, it’s an ­excellent read.

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London Review of Books

Good
Reviewed by Kristin Dombek on Mar 18 2015

It’s a record of a life lived as the rare artist who has managed to negotiate an industry vertiginous with corporate consolidation and technological change.

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Time Out New York

Good
Reviewed by Andrew Frisicano on Feb 18 2015

Gordon deals efficiently with the history of her band...But her breakup with Moore, a cataclysm for fans who idolized the couple, hangs over the entire tale. Gordon writes about the split in exacting detail...A prolific art maker chronicles her tangled personal and creative lives.

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Lit Reactor

Above average
Reviewed by Christopher Shultz on Feb 23 2015

While many passages in Gordon's memoir are blunt and even harsh at times, if you're looking for gossip on fellow celebrities, look elsewhere...She reveals a person underneath the persona, an individual who never wanted anything more than to express herself, demystifying—just as Iggy Pop did—the idea of a rockstar.

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National Post arts

Good
Reviewed by Carly Lewis on Feb 23 2015

It is with that same toughened empathy, and retrospective apprehension, that Gordon details the unsolicited collapse of her marriage and her band. For 30 years—27 of which she spent married to now ex-husband, ex-bandmate Thurston Moore—Sonic Youth symbolized trying and not trying, caring and not caring...

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The Reading Date

Above average
on Mar 13 2015

Kim Gordon was always a cool, mysterious personality to me- and since I love rock bios I was eager to read Girl in a Band to get to know her better. And yes, I wanted to know the scoop on what happened with her marriage, and the dish on the bands Sonic Youth performed with over the years.

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https://bookmunch.wordpress.com

Above average
Reviewed by Bookmunch on Feb 26 2015

We begin with the final tour, we explore her youth and then, in the least satisfying portion of the book, we hopscotch briefly through the various ages of Sonic Youth...There’s a lot here to enjoy, and Gordon is a solid guide to her life, but it’s all still a bit raw...

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http://flavorwire.com

Above average
Reviewed by Jillian Mapes on Feb 26 2015

There’s some bit of magic in getting close to it, even if Gordon is less sentimental than her Cool Girl sycophants would prefer. With Girl in a Band, Kim Gordon says her peace and quietly demands your respect, but doesn’t give it all away. You won’t cry, but you will hear Sonic Youth records in a different way...

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Entertainment Realm

Above average
Reviewed by Amy Steele on Feb 24 2015

Gordon writes rather quite a free-form drifting from subject to subject and playing around with chronology. A reader can easily skip around and not be confused. The sections with vivid descriptions of New York in the 1980s and 1980s stand-out for authenticity and color. There’s plenty of awesomeness in this memoir.

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http://www.seattletimes.com

Above average
Reviewed by Gillian G. Gaar on Feb 27 2015

Gordon doesn’t provide anything as mundane as her birth date, and when she writes about each of the band’s albums she focuses on the creation of a single song. But it’s nonetheless a poignant look back and an engaging chronicle of the choppy waters an underground act rides as it bubbles up into the mainstream.

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The Skinny

Good
Reviewed by WILL FITZPATRICK on Mar 11 2015

The titular question recurs at various points and is treated with deserved scorn: instead, Gordon chooses to tell us what it’s like to have been this girl in this band, and it's never less than fascinating.

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