Just listened to HMMaMG on disc. Its a rock memoir, but Brownstein is not glamorizing Sleater-Kinney or her life.
She begins Chapter 1 by writing “I’ve always felt unclaimed. This is the story of the ways I created a territory…something that could steady me, somewhere I belonged.” Something many people feel on some level. The first quarter of the book is growing up in Bellevue, WA.
She formed a band in 11th grade called Born Naked: “We agonized over band names (though clearly not for long enough).
After high school, she dropped out of Western Washington U and moved to Olympia, WA and was deeply immersed in the music and art scene. Bands like Heavens to Betsy, Bikini Kill were inspring her.
The book moves through the different stages of Sleater-Kinney and Carrie’s relationship and friendship with Corin. The details are a joy to read if the music means something to you, but if it doesn’t Brownstein draws the reader deep into the punk life and aesthetic–the make do, the camaraderie, and because of the relative success of the band, she is able to tell the story about how that very basic view of the world expands as success draws the outsiders back into itself.
The book doesn’t really get on to Portlandia, but as Brownstein says in the interview that is a bonus on the disc set, her description of life in Olympia is where ideas and material for the IFC show comes from in part.
Reading this along with Viv Albertine’s book brought back my sense of the late seventies early eighties, however much I was drawn to this music–especially female voices, X-Ray Spex, Penetration, Siouxie, the Slits–I only touched on the life as I moved through the world of fringe theatre rather than music.