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Madonna and Me: Women Writers on the Queen of Pop

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For nearly 30 years, Madonna has been at the center of the media spotlight. She has sold more than 200 million records worldwide, launched her own record label, headlined an Oscar-award-winning film, authored bestselling books for both adults and children, inspired global street-fashion trends, and instigated international debates over a range of feminist issues from sexual fetish to adoption ethics. Masterfully harnessing her talent and power to navigate her ascent to stardom, she has become the very definition of iconic.

She has also been a constant companion. In Madonna and Me, more than forty women write about Madonna’s influence on their lives. No subject goes unexplored—from sex and money to fashion and identity, the stories are just as brazen, bold, and balls-to-the-wall as Madonna. They explore the evolution of her chameleonlike personas—material girl and “boy-toy” tartlet, kooky Kabbalist and savvy businesswoman, siren and mother—and her impact on culture as a groundbreaking feminist.

Of course, not all women worship at her altar, and likewise the essays in Madonna and Me are brutally honest, funny, engaging, and real. They delve into the hearts, souls, memories, and moments of contemporary women, celebrating the ways in which Madonna has inspired us and challenged us, pushing us to be bolder, edgier, braver versions of ourselves.

304 pages, Paperback

First published January 1, 2012

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About the author

Laura Barcella

10 books22 followers
Laura Barcella is an author and freelance journalist currently based in NYC.

She wrote "Know Your Rights!" (Sterling, 2018), Fight Like a Girl" (Zest Books, 2016), "POPULAR" (with Lauren Urasek; Sterling, 2015), "The End: 50 Apocalyptic Visions From Pop Culture That You Should Know About… Before It’s Too Late" (Zest, 2012), and "Madonna & Me" (Soft Skull Press, 2012). She has also ghostwritten a number of nonfiction adult titles.

As a journalist, she has covered pop culture, crime, and women's issues for the New York Times, PEOPLE, Rolling Stone, the Washington Post, and more.

She's also a professional cat lady -- she works part-time in a neonatal kitten nursery in Manhattan.

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5 stars
27 (30%)
4 stars
25 (28%)
3 stars
28 (31%)
2 stars
6 (6%)
1 star
3 (3%)
Displaying 1 - 16 of 16 reviews
Profile Image for Lisa.
206 reviews8 followers
December 21, 2012
Starts off fun, but 30+ stories about "the first time I heard Madonna and how that made me feel," is a bit much.
Profile Image for Rosemarie.
213 reviews28 followers
November 8, 2012
I finally finished this book. It took a while, but it' a collection of essays - something I don't read very often - and it's easy to read one or two essays and then put the book down and go on to something else for a time. It's also true that the essays are all well written and it often took me time to DIGEST each one before I even wanted to move on.

This is a book for Madonna fans, but be warned that some of the essays are not positive, and that's why I took one star off. I think it was a mistake to do that because - obviously - only fans are going to be buying this book. It's like biting the hand that feeds you to included all the negativity from non-fans. I'm sure it was done in some sadly misguided liberal attempt to present both sides of the "issue". Except Madonna is not an issue, like abortion or health care. She's a person, and if you are a Madonna fan like I am, you already know what the haters are saying and, seriously, don't need to hear it again.

It was great to hear from others, in many walks of life, who ARE fans. I could relate to many of the essays in this book. It seems everyone has a memory, an experience of how Madonna impacted their lives growing up, or a story about what she means to them now as an adult.

I have all of those. I've been a Madonna fan since she first appeared in the 80's when I was in high school. I remember the Desperately Seeking Susan look - I wore all the rubber bracelets. That was the only part of "Madonna-wanna-be" that my mom would allow.

I've always loved her music. Say what you want about her voice, her talent, etc. but her music has always spoken to me. Lines from many, many songs stick with me and pop into my head when appropriate to my life. Those are the kinds of songs that mean something to you. Reality TV has us so focused on THE VOICE. Some people may have more natural talent than Madonna, but there's a lot more than that going on here. She's an entertainer, a whole "package" that is more than the sum of its individual parts.

And while I LIKED her back then, I think there's only MORE reason to like her now. She's grown, she's done some things to really ADMIRE. I now believe that there was always a method to her "madness" - so to speak.

And no one can deny that she has staying power in a very fickle and difficult business. How many other pop stars of the 80s are still making music? Never mind that, some of them, like Michael Jackson and Whitney Houston, are not even AROUND anymore. That right there shows she has a good head on her shoulders! Sometimes talent alone is not enough. At this point, I'd much rather be Madonna with her "average" voice than Whitney with her "gifted" one.

So, if you are a Madonna fan, get this book, humor the haters, and know that you are not alone in your admiration of this one-of-a-kind lady. : )
Profile Image for J Clement Wall.
43 reviews4 followers
March 17, 2015
If you think you’ve read all you ever want to read about Madonna, I don’t blame you and, trust me, you’re wrong. Madonna & Me is a collection of 39 essays written by fierce, funny, insightful women, each reflecting on the undeniable impact Madonna has had on them, on music, on pop culture, and on the world. Like her or hate her (and the writers in this collection do both), Madonna has commanded our attention since she burst onto the scene, “shiny and new,” in the early 80s.

Read my entire review here. http://usedfurniturereview.com/2012/0...
Profile Image for Chantay.
231 reviews31 followers
June 24, 2019
These are a collection of essays about women and their perceptions of Madonna. Madonna has always challenged society. Fighting gender stereotypes, racial bigotry, and patriarchy. She takes on the roles of mother/whore and blends them into a hybrid that mocks the system.

I thought each woman was going to have a feminist in-depth description of Madonna the persona. There are a few authors that do take a deeper look at Madonna. A lot of the essays though seem to offer more personal anecdotes about how Madonna has shaped their childhood, their adulthood. I found some of the personal anecdotes to be too gushy. There where some that did talk of her need to appropriate from other cultures/scenes without taking into account the damage or stereotypes she's trying on.

Some of the stand-outs for me: Safe Harbor, And I Feel, Madonna, Is Down With The Swirl, Madonna Is Boring And Lazy, Desperately Seeking Stardom, Vogue: Madonna's Creative Zenith, Count Madonnicula, Borderline: Madonna's Rebel Stance, Madonna And Me,
Profile Image for Lani.
788 reviews34 followers
May 2, 2013
I've been reading a lot of compilations lately, and I really need to stop. Unfortunately, the more you narrow the field of expertise, the harder it is to find good writers...

This book didn't have many bad essays, but it did have a few and it had a LOT of overlap. Fortunately, I am a big sucker and really like reading about Madonna. I was surprised at the few and far between critical essays, but I suppose we do need variety, and she's a controversial lady.
Profile Image for Laura Mazer.
6 reviews
January 15, 2012
Too much fun! Great smart writers on the influence Madonna has had on our lives.
Profile Image for Francy.
8 reviews7 followers
July 4, 2012
I feel many of the essays were a bit repetitive, but I still enjoyed this.
78 reviews1 follower
December 26, 2019
I keep thinking about why I didn't like this book. I like Madonna and her story, even own a couple of her albums. I like short stories. I actually only read the first three stories before I shelved it. I found them boring. They were all about the authors as little Catholic girls and how she came across to them. I guess because I was older when Madonna came on the scene, I couldn't relate and I didn't feel like it was worth digging any deeper.
Profile Image for Adam Goldberg.
127 reviews
November 7, 2019
As someone who’s admired Madonna for her courageousness over the years, I was pretty let down by this collection. It was ALL over the place and at points, I didn’t know whether the contributing writers were voicing disdain or admiration. Glad I read it and appreciate the idea behind it, but this is definitely a one time read.
179 reviews6 followers
August 12, 2013
Most of these essays were more about "me" than "Madonna." I had expected more of a cultural studies anthology, with essays placing Madonna in a broader context. There were a few that fit that expectation, but many more about the writers' personal feelings about Madonna. Like most anthologies, this one was hit and miss for me. I particularly liked Mary Gagliano's piece about how Madonna affected her youthful relationship with her Catholicism; it was a funny and vivid remembrance of how weirdly obsessive childhood can be. Several of the other essays about what Madonna meant to the writers at various points in their youth were also entertaining or touching. There were a lot of essays on Madonna as an inspiration for confidence, sexuality and/or reinvention, which makes sense but got a bit repetitive. On the other hand, some of the essays seemed to be trying too hard to find a new angle on Madonna. One wrote a fake JDate profile for her, which was odd. There were a few critical essays, but they were generally pretty weak. There's plenty to criticize about Madonna, but the critical pieces in this collection seemed more disinterested than engaged in thoughtful deconstruction. One, bizarrely, was about the writer's tepid feelings about Madonna and her fruitless search for inspiration for her contribution to this collection -- maybe just decline to write a piece if you care that little.

Worth a skim if you're at least a casual Madonna fan. It'll make you want to break out her greatest hits, if nothing else.
Profile Image for Migdalia Jimenez.
250 reviews37 followers
August 10, 2016
The stories were good, but they all started to run into eachother after a while. I would recommend this if a) you're a 'true-blue' madonna fan, b) an anthology aficionado, or c) interested in exploring what it was like to grow up a catholic girl in the 80's/90's, the latter of which was very well presented in the book.
Profile Image for Erin Tuzuner.
681 reviews68 followers
August 18, 2013
Madonna may not be an artist, but shes a hell of a business woman. These essays expand and contract on that theme through the lens of authenticity, heteronormativity, and personal remembrance. Also, sex.
Profile Image for Rose.
334 reviews20 followers
September 2, 2014
For fans of Madonna alike, read articles about the Queen of Pop - appraising her and those with apathy towards her. Either way, each article is well-written and so insightful! I would re-read in a heartbeat. Very interesting.
1 review5 followers
March 31, 2012
Private, spirited and gifted writing. Kelly K. Trumpbour's inspiring writing comes from the heart.
Profile Image for Brian Judd.
9 reviews
June 4, 2012

Silly fun. My favorite essay is called, "Madonna is Boring and Lazy."
Displaying 1 - 16 of 16 reviews

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