Hunger Makes Me a Modern Girl by Carrie Brownstein
A Memoir

76%

35 Critic Reviews

By telling her story on her own terms, she is both acquiescing to those questions and continuing to refuse them. After all, she is telling only one part of the tale: how being in a band saved her and then broke her and then, once she’d healed, allowed her to feel herself again. And that story isn’t even over.
-NY Times

Synopsis

From the guitarist of the pioneering band Sleater-Kinney, the book Kim Gordon says "everyone has been waiting for" and a New York Times Notable Book of 2015-- a candid, funny, and deeply personal look at making a life--and finding yourself--in music.

Before Carrie Brownstein became a music icon, she was a young girl growing up in the Pacific Northwest just as it was becoming the setting for one the most important movements in rock history. Seeking a sense of home and identity, she would discover both while moving from spectator to creator in experiencing the power and mystery of a live performance. With Sleater-Kinney, Brownstein and her bandmates rose to prominence in the burgeoning underground feminist punk-rock movement that would define music and pop culture in the 1990s. They would be cited as “America’s best rock band” by legendary music critic Greil Marcus for their defiant, exuberant brand of punk that resisted labels and limitations, and redefined notions of gender in rock.
 
HUNGER MAKES ME A MODERN GIRL is an intimate and revealing narrative of her escape from a turbulent family life into a world where music was the means toward self-invention, community, and rescue. Along the way, Brownstein chronicles the excitement and contradictions within the era’s flourishing and fiercely independent music subculture, including experiences that sowed the seeds for the observational satire of the popular television series Portlandia years later.
 
With deft, lucid prose Brownstein proves herself as formidable on the page as on the stage. Accessibly raw, honest and heartfelt, this book captures the experience of being a young woman, a born performer and an outsider, and ultimately finding one’s true calling through hard work, courage and the intoxicating power of rock and roll.




From the Hardcover edition.
 

About Carrie Brownstein

See more books from this Author
Carrie Brownstein is an American musician, writer and actress who first became widely known as the guitarist and vocalist of feminist punk trio Sleater-Kinney and as co-developer of IFC’s sketch comedy Portlandia, where she stars opposite Fred Armisen. Her writing has previously appeared in The Believer and Slate. She lives in Portland, Oregon.
Author Residence: Portland, Oregon USA
 
Published October 27, 2015 by Riverhead Books. 256 pages
Genres: Biographies & Memoirs, Arts & Photography. Non-fiction
Bestseller Status:
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Peak Rank on Nov 15 2015
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Weeks as Bestseller
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Critic reviews for Hunger Makes Me a Modern Girl
All: 35 | Positive: 27 | Negative: 8

Kirkus

Excellent
on Jul 30 2015

Unlike many rock star memoirs, there’s no sense that this book is a chore or a marketing effort. It’s revealing and riveting. On the page as in her songs, Brownstein finds the right words to give shape to experience.

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Publishers Weekly

Excellent
on Dec 21 2015

Brownstein is unafraid to reveal her emotional vulnerability, making this one of the smartest and most articulate music memoirs in recent years.

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NY Times

Above average
Reviewed by SARAH JAFFE on Nov 20 2015

By telling her story on her own terms, she is both acquiescing to those questions and continuing to refuse them. After all, she is telling only one part of the tale: how being in a band saved her and then broke her and then, once she’d healed, allowed her to feel herself again. And that story isn’t even over.

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NY Times

Below average
Reviewed by John Williams on Oct 28 2015

Some female readers who have worshiped at Sleater-Kinney’s altar of empowerment — and thrilled to Ms. Brownstein’s supremely confident antics onstage — may be disappointed by this memoir’s nearly incessant tone of self-deprecation. (I’ve heard from some of them already.) But Ms. Brownstein is interested in telling us who she is...

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Guardian

Above average
Reviewed by Kate Mossman on Dec 29 2015

The most evocative sections of the book take place at the seat of the riot grrrl movement, Evergreen State College in Olympia, Washington...

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Guardian

Above average
Reviewed by Kitty Empire on Nov 10 2015

Like in Portlandia, there are laughs here – mostly to be found in Brownstein’s amused tone as she dissects childhood escapades, failed try-outs for bands, her penchant for adopting rescue animals.

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Guardian

Above average
Reviewed by Michelle Dean on Nov 07 2015

But this is one of the few tiny moments of humour in the book. Instead, it delivers its goods in what I can only describe as a compellingly depressive register, which sounds like an insult but isn’t.

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AV Club

Good
Reviewed by Kyle Ryan on Oct 26 2015

That they kept it under wraps for so long is impressive but not necessarily surprising: Brownstein’s memoir shows that she can keep a secret. More important, it shows how compelling she is when she opens up.

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Entertainment Weekly

Good
Reviewed by Leah Greenblatt on Oct 30 2015

...Hunger should become the new handbook for every modern girl (and yes, boys, too) looking for the courage to pursue a life less ordinary.

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The Independent

Above average
Reviewed by Fiona Sturges on Nov 07 2015

Over the course of her career, Brownstein’s music has come from a place of rage and defiance against conformity, the music industry, and the concept of male dominance. And these battles are clearly drawn in her book. However, her greatest achievement here is in opening up about her most enduring adversary: herself.

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The Sydney Morning Herald

Above average
Reviewed by Stephen Saunders on Feb 19 2016

More than many rock memoirists, Brownstein brims with intelligence and self-deprecation, being consistently gracious to mentors and colleagues. Beyond just music buffs, her story may appeal to readers with general interests in contemporary culture and feminism.

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The Sydney Morning Herald

Above average
Reviewed by Jenny Valentish on Dec 02 2015

...Hunger Makes Me a Modern Girl is more profound as a bildungsroman than as a rock memoir, even though the prologue leaves us intrigued...

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PopMatters

Below average
Reviewed by ELODIE ROY on Dec 11 2015

There are dates, names and places, yet these become quickly muddled; merging into a hazy, mythical image of the ‘90s.

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NY Daily News

Above average
Reviewed by Amy Rowe on Nov 04 2015

Though she spills a lot of interesting details throughout “Hunger Makes Me a Modern Girl,” one can tell Brownstein is an intensely personal person.

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Austin Chronicle

Above average
Reviewed by NEPH BASEDOW on Dec 11 2015

The trio's slow unraveling reads painstaking and personal, as the now 41-year-old limns her pre-show panic attacks that eventually rock-bottom out in 2006 as she literally punches herself in the face repeatedly before a backstage mirror.

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Paste

Good
Reviewed by Tyler R. Kane on Oct 27 2015

Brownstein’s Modern Girl offers a lot of value for a wide range of readers. Music historians get a first-hand POV of one of punk rock’s most interesting scenes, aspiring artists will take away Brownstein’s mandatory perspective and casual readers get a damn fine read.

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Spectrum Culture

Above average
Reviewed by JAKE COLE on Jan 19 2016

...the wanderlust that upsets even this brief span of relaxation says so much about Brownstein’s spirit that only the shortest of epilogues is needed to touch upon Sleater-Kinney’s current reunion. It’s obvious well before the end that home for her is in front of others, performing...

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Dominion of New York

Good
Reviewed by VANESSA WILLOUGHBY on Dec 22 2015

As someone who tends to think of books and music as lifelines, I appreciated Brownstein’s passion, musical knowledge, and her honesty about the creative process.

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New York Observer

Good
Reviewed by Linda Laban on Nov 03 2015

This turbulent story has moments that make you laugh out loud, and those that make you sob. Like any drama, just when you think there couldn’t be another psyche-battering event, here it comes...

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Willamette Week

Above average
Reviewed by Matthew Singer on Nov 03 2015

At less than 300 pages, it is not a complete portrait. But the image that's presented is of a woman who is hard to dislike, and harder to dismiss.

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Guardian

Above average
Reviewed by STEPHANIE CROSS on Nov 20 2016

Music is the heart of this book – it stops short of Portlandia, Brownstein’s comedy show – and knowing where she is coming from adds an edge to otherwise familiar laments about the internet’s effect on pop culture.

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Readings

Good
Reviewed by Amy Vuleta on Oct 30 2015

...I am not especially partial to music biographies. Yet reading this particular story was an absorbing, fulfilling and urgent experience. Hunger Makes Me a Modern Girl, is eloquent and honest, and it is effortless to read.

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https://www.washingtonpost.com

Below average
Reviewed by Ruth Graham on Oct 20 2015

There’s more on her cat Lyle’s gastritis than on the making of a hit TV show. That’s Brownstein’s prerogative, of course, but it will leave some readers of “Hunger Makes Me a Modern Girl” hungry for more.

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Raging Biblioholism

Excellent
on Dec 22 2015

A rock memoir that transcends the trappings of the genre, detailing one person’s love of music – and the dangers that such a love can bring into your life.

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Beth Fish Reads

Good
Reviewed by Beth F on Jan 25 2016

Fans of the Riot Grrrl movement and of Sleater-Kinney will love the details about song writing and album making. Even if you're not familiar with Brownstein's music, these sections are still interesting.

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Nomad Reader

Good
on Nov 17 2015

Brownstein is a fine writer, and I admired her bravery in this memoir. Her insights into the life of a touring musician were fascinating, but it was her insights into her life that shined brightest for me.

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Everyday eBook

Good
Reviewed by Emily Neuberger on Oct 28 2015

What's most attractive about Brownstein in Hunger Makes Me a Modern Girl is her quiet assumption of an artistic life.

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https://bookmunch.wordpress.com

Above average
on Nov 30 2015

I have a feeling that Hunger Makes Me a Modern Girl is the kind of book that will help others feel less alone too. Any Cop?: So good that I cannot but hope we get a second volume where she tells us how Portlandia came together.

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http://flavorwire.com

Above average
Reviewed by MATTHEW ISMAEL RUIZ on Oct 26 2015

Such transportive language is somewhat unnecessary in modern music criticism, when one can stream a new album and read a review simultaneously, but it works much better here...

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The Skinny

Excellent
Reviewed by Gary Kaill on Nov 27 2015

The final chapter, in which Brownstein reveals what happened when Sleater-Kinney finally played together again, will challenge even the hardest heart. It's an affecting endnote...

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https://bookpeopleblog.wordpress.com

Good
Reviewed by Juliewbp on Oct 30 2015

Accessibly raw, honest and heartfelt, this book captures the experience of being a young woman, a born performer, an outsider, and ultimately finding one’s true calling through hard work, courage and the intoxicating power of rock and roll.

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http://adelaidereview.com.au

Good
Reviewed by David Sornig on Jan 11 2016

...the earnest Brownstein of the memoir is reconcilable with the subculture satirist of Portlandia. Nevertheless, it’s the rock Brownstein, raw, personal and never really abandoning the project of self-examination, that wins the day here.

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http://reviewsbyamoslassen.com

Excellent
Reviewed by Amos Lassen on Nov 29 2015

The book is filled with self-deprecation, keen social observations, and personal and social insights. I fell in love with this book and while still on the first page, I knew I was reading something very special.

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https://feministtexicanreads.wordpress.com

Excellent
on Nov 04 2015

It’s this type of feminist insight (plus, okay, the Sleater-Kinney history) that made me love the book. As far as rock memoirs go, this one hits all the right notes.

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http://offthetracks.co.nz

Good
Reviewed by Simon Sweetman on Feb 29 2016

I’m not sure I’ve ever read a better music memoir, the grasp of self here, the honesty around frustrations. It’s also funny, and sad – some wonderful, evocative turns of phrase.

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Reader Rating for Hunger Makes Me a Modern Girl
85%

An aggregated and normalized score based on 197 user ratings from iDreamBooks & iTunes


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