Hunger Makes Me a Modern Girl is Carrie Brownstein’s latest project—a vivid memoir of her early life in the Pacific Northwest, and the creation (and eventual demise) of her band Sleater-Kinney.
She goes into detail on her early life with family – a mother who struggled with anorexia, leaving her and her sister to the care of their father who struggled with his identity. When she went to college, she knew she didn’t belong and sought a sense of home and identity throughout, eventually moving to Olympia, Washington, where she would meet Corin Tucker and form Sleater-Kinney. In Olympia, she says, she finds a sense of community and self-invention. Brownstein talks about her friends from the time including author/filmmaker Miranda July and other notable Riot Grrrl artists.
Formed in 1994, Sleater-Kinney was not the first band in the Riot Grrrl movement, an underground feminist punk-rock movement, but arguably they became the biggest. It wasn’t until 1996 that Janet Weiss became the final drummer, with four others preceding her. Once Weiss was on board, the band took off, redefining notions of gender in rock music.
Brownstein routinely talks about journalists asking what it’s like to be in an all-girl band, and how a man has never been asked what it’s like to be in an all-male band. There’s not a singular difference, she says, they struggle the same in the beginning, and face similar problems throughout their careers with band mates and record labels, etc…
Fans of Portlandia shouldn’t come looking in this book, it’s strictly about Brownstein’s early life and the rise and fall of Sleater-Kinney. I highly recommend it if you’re a Sleater-Kinney/Riot Grrrl fan. It’s written beautifully and honestly. Find it in the library.