Book Review: Hunger Makes Me A Modern Girl


I spent the weekend Spring Cleaning my new apartment, accompanied by this highly anticipated read, Hunger Makes Me A Modern Girl by Carrie Brownstein. Brownstein's memoir of her time in the band Sleater-Kinney, this book was raw to the point of discomfort. Whatever opinions I may have, they're outweighed by the respect I have for Brownstein's openness, vulnerability, and honesty. The whole book, beginning to end, is one long intimate passage into the private lives of herself, her family, and her bandmates, sharing details I would cringe to tell my own friends, let alone publish for the world to read. More than anything I'm in awe of her talent for writing and fearless storytelling. After the amazement at her baring-all, though, I had a few other thoughts on the book.

I went in with few expectations and scattered knowledge of Carrie Brownstein. I knew from All Songs Considered that she was a member of Sleater-Kinney, that she had worked briefly for that podcast, and of course knew about her role in Portlandia. But I had never listened to Sleater-Kinney's music, much less studied their past or had any part in the Pacific Northwest punk scene. In hindsight, doing a little bit of studying before hand would have been helpful -- the book catalogs her experiences before, during, and briefly after Sleater-Kinney exclusively, and she frequently references bands and events I had never heard of, despite being so geographically and temporally close to them. This was a bug and a feature: knowing so little made the book more educational, interesting, and worthwhile, but also in many ways less meaningful or impactful for me personally. That said, Brownstein includes so much more than just a history of the band. Her struggles with anxiety and depression, a variety of physical conditions including shingles and an allergy to soy, and hypochondria while touring with a band, are very much relatable to any who has battled those same battles. She also speaks at length of coming of age and finding what she wanted to do, of how her parents own repressed selves affected her childhood, and of other profound thoughts on the human experience in the modern age, and how to navigate it.

Overall, "Hunger Makes Me A Modern Girl" was an enjoyable and worthwhile read. Entertaining, insightful, and almost unbearably honest, I would highly recommend picking this up if you have a chance.