Wednesday, January 22, 2020

Horror Stories by Liz Phair

When Liz Phair shook things up with her musical debut, Exile in Guyville—making her as much a cultural figure as a feminist pioneer and rock star—her raw candor, uncompromising authenticity, and deft storytelling inspired a legion of critics, songwriters, musicians, and fans alike. Now, like a Gen X Patti Smith, Liz Phair reflects on the path she has taken in these piercing essays that reveal the indelible memories that have stayed with her. For Phair, horror is in the eye of the beholder—in the often unrecognized universal experiences of daily pain, guilt, and fear that make up our humanity. Illuminating despair with hope and consolation, tempering it all with her signature wit, Horror Stories is immersive, taking readers inside the most intimate junctures of Phair’s life, from facing her own bad behavior and the repercussions of betraying her fundamental values, to watching her beloved grandmother inevitably fade, to undergoing the beauty of childbirth while being hit up for an autograph by the anesthesiologist. Horror Stories is a literary accomplishment that reads like the confessions of a friend. It gathers up all of our isolated shames and draws them out into the light, uniting us in our shared imperfection, our uncertainty and our cowardice, smashing the stigma of not being in control. But most importantly, the uncompromising precision and candor of Horror Stories transforms these deeply personal experiences into tales about each and every one of us. -indiebound.orgI remember the first time I heard Liz Phair's music, it was Halloween 1998 and I was in high school attending a party thrown by one my good friends. My friend loved putting on mini-concerts at her parties, playing and singing the alt hits of the era and this party in particular featured a performance of Phair's Polyester Bride.  At the time, I was and still am obsessed with 80s music but there was something special about Liz Phair.  To me her songs seemed like little story snippets of her life.  Her memoir, Horror Stories showcases her strengths as a confessional story teller. Despite all her success in the music industry, Phair's experiences are everybody's stories: awkward relationships, break-ups and make-ups and struggles with self doubt.  Her honesty and candor is in this memoir is just what you'd expect if you're a fan of her music but I think her memoir would appeal to non-fans as well given the relatable nature of her stories.

What I also loved about this memoir is that the stories are not in chronological order and they can each stand-alone.  So, it's perfect if you're juggling multiple books at one time or are really busy and just have a few minutes a day for reading.

****/5 stars

Look for Horror Stories at your favorite local bookseller or check-out to order.

Special thanks to NetGalley and the publisher for providing me with a digital ARC in exchange for a fair and honest review.

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