I don't just mean having no clothes on--although she does that too, occasionally, in her concerts and music videoAmanda Palmer is known for nakedness.
I don't just mean having no clothes on--although she does that too, occasionally, in her concerts and music videos and even the cover of this book. But the artistic nudity is just one outward expression of what could be called spiritual nakedness, a kind of extreme openness, vulnerability, and trust that is a hallmark of Palmer's entire career, and also the theme of this book.
The book is a mingling of funny or weird anecdotes from her days as a living statue; a recounting of her Kickstarter campaign (the most successful of its kind in history) and its aftermath; snippets of her personal life and relationships--mostly with her mentor, Anthony, and husband, The Author Neil Gaiman; and tying all these together, thoughtful contemplation of the vulnerability and humility that make asking for help--in any sphere of life--so challenging.
The writing flows easily from these brief meditative interludes to story-telling. Palmer's voice is familiar, friendly, like she's chatting to you over coffee rather than through the pages of the book. I particularly enjoyed the brief scenes of her unconventional marriage with Neil Gaiman, who is one of my favorite humans on the planet. The running joke on her fondness for the way he pronounces "Tomahto" is totally endearing.
Those familiar with her work--her achingly, sometimes uncomfortably honest lyrics; her personal interactions with fans at gigs or over twitter--will not be surprised to hear that Palmer holds very little back in this memoir. What may come as a surprise (at least it did for me) is that there are parts she had not previously talked about--or not that I had seen, and her tone in some sections does imply that she's comfortable sharing these issues with the public for the first time.
I don't mean that in a "Never-Before-Seen-Juicy-Scoop!" way at all, but just that it's refreshing to realize that even the queen of total transparency has parts of her life that are too painful, or embarrassing, or intimate, to share with just anyone. Her sharing them with her readers now is an act of trust.
In her TED Talk, Palmer tells a story of a time she stripped naked and let the fans draw on her body with sharpies. She says:
"Now let me tell you, if you want to experience the visceral feeling of trusting strangers, I recommend this, especially if those strangers are drunk German people. This was a ninja master-level fan connection, because what I was really saying here was, I trust you THIS much. Should I? Show me."
That's what this book--in its intimate sharing of inner doubts and struggles--is saying to us, the readers: Look how much I trust you. Reading this did not feel like that awkward over-sharing or attention-seeking we've probably all experienced; rather, I feel honored, like I've been entrusted with something precious and delicate.
I also understand better why fans flock to Amanda by the hundreds with their own stories, of abuse or addiction or other trauma; being trusted tends to make people more willing to trust in return. This connection is not at all cheapened by the fact that thousands of other people also experience it. Small moments of intimacy--being truly SEEN by another human--are terrifying, and thrilling, and essential, wherever they occur; we just have to be courageous enough to accept them, humble enough to take the flower....more
Disappointing. A few interesting ideas, but too badly-researched, unorganized, and long-winded to be really readable. I read one chapter, skimmed a seDisappointing. A few interesting ideas, but too badly-researched, unorganized, and long-winded to be really readable. I read one chapter, skimmed a second (because I'm an optimist) and finally gave up.
Quite interesting look at the behind-the-scenes of my favorite living author. The format of this brick of a book seems better suited to either decoratQuite interesting look at the behind-the-scenes of my favorite living author. The format of this brick of a book seems better suited to either decorating coffee tables or beating up thugs in alleys than to holding and reading; but it is beautiful to look at, full of pictures and anecdotes. And it is, as I said, interesting to those fans of the author who (like myself) like to know the story behind the stories. I started trying to read it straight through, but ended up skipping through some sections to those pertaining to the books I'd actually read. The section on Sandman was, to me, the most eye-opening, but there are good tidbits all throughout. Worth a look if you're a Gaiman lover....more