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Cat Power: A Good Woman

3.20  ·  Rating details ·  236 ratings  ·  35 reviews
How Chan Marshall, aka Cat Power, Survived Herself–and Became the Indie Rock Queen.

Chan Marshall’s stark lyrics, minimal arrangements,and wounded, smoky vocals, were an instant indie hit in the nineties–but her mental instability nearly derailed her career. How this sensitive but headstrong Georgian daughter of an unstable mother and a relatively unknown musician father–ma
Paperback, 304 pages
Published April 7th 2009 by Three Rivers Press (first published January 1st 2009)
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Average rating 3.20  · 
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 ·  236 ratings  ·  35 reviews

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Jan 20, 2010 rated it it was ok
There are some actual obvious factual errors in the text that made me question everything else in this book. I also got this weird feeling that the author wanted to really "knock her down a peg" and expose Chan Marshall instead of treating her with respect as an artist. Elizabeth Goodman seemed to both resent and revere her at the same time, which is a scary combination. It's hard to explain but it seemed like Goodman was really just trying to deal with her own odd feelings toward Marshall. That ...more
Jun 07, 2011 marked it as abandoned
Recommended to Vicky by: via Ryan on Thought Catalog
Shelves: biography
It feels "out of character" for me to pick up this book (maybe I feel weird, reading about people who are still alive who didn't approve of the book?), which I did so suddenly yesterday at the library on the same day I came across the title. Elizabeth Goodman's intro, with the whole "Chan does not want you to read this book" headline, made me especially uncomfortable. Her justification for this book, and despite Chan's protests or something, was that Chan did not warn her family members about th ...more
May 18, 2009 rated it it was ok
I guess there are a few questions that come to mind when reviewing this book. . .first and most importantly - why did I read it? I'm not a fan of Cat Power, I'm barely curious about her. It just illustrates the depths of my thirst for anything related to pop music and the life of a performer. I read it in pretty much one sitting. . .so take that for what it's worth.

The bio starts with the classic journalistic ruse: "Chan Marshall does not want you to read this book." OK - so it's not official.
Alyson Trent
Dec 16, 2012 rated it did not like it
I could hardly get past the introduction. I have never read any published material that sounded more pathetic, defensive, and ridiculous as what Elizabeth Goodman writes in "A Good Woman." I recently purchased this book used from Ameoba in San Francisco, and it is an uncorrected proof version, so I would like to peruse the final version of this book and merely hope that the introduction didn't make the final cut. She explains that Chan Marshall hated her for writing this book and paints herself ...more
Nov 28, 2018 rated it it was ok
2.5 stars... I didn't know before I started it that Chan Marshall hadn't consented to the biography (doesn't it usually say unauthorized biography on the cover??) and I was already invested in it by the time the author dropped that in so I kept with it. It made the book feel sleazy to me, like gossip instead of a honest portrait of the artist who likely had the most influence on my teenage years. The writing style didn't help that feeling, either.

Instead of really examining how a woman from and
Apr 12, 2010 rated it really liked it
found myself vacillating between feeling sorry for chan marshall and then angry at her, and between feeling angry at elizabeth goodman (the biographer) for intruding, and then grateful that she did...
Feb 16, 2010 rated it really liked it
chan marshall is intriguing. reading this book set off an extended period of listening only to cat power. knowing her story gives more meaning to her music, i think.
Jun 08, 2010 rated it really liked it
Recommends it for: Cat Power fans
Reading this biography gave me great insight into Cat Power and her music. One would think that the lives of indie rockers aren't extensive and exciting enough for such a length biography to be written about them, but I was impressed with Goodman's thorough research and detail.
stephanie suh
Feb 12, 2019 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
I first saw Chan Marshall singing in 2007 Chanel Haute Couture, while models were swanning around like ethereal fairies in gorgeous Chanel wardrobes. Better known as her stage name “Cat Power,” she was the Queen of the Show in her graceful poise whimsically mixed with her super cool urban retro chic fashion singing a soulful and powerful melody of ballads like a stylish bohemian troubadour. So I downloaded her songs from iTunes and loved her solitary lyrics imbued with Southern blues soul and of ...more
Harrison Rip
Dec 18, 2018 rated it liked it
Elizabeth Goodman didn't thoroughly check all her material, like when she misreports a song by Peter Laughner as being by Peter Lofton, but the people she did talk to are interesting all the same.
Oct 20, 2019 rated it liked it
Interesting enough read though obviously hampered somewhat by Chan Marshall's non participation.
Mar 07, 2014 rated it it was ok
I felt very bad about reading this book in the beginning, since it’s an unauthorized biography. Having finished it now, I still feel bad, though the fact that the author didn’t do a very good job in my opinion (Chan should not spend a second worrying about this book, it’s not worth it) makes it a little bit better.

The introduction instantly made me dislike Elizabeth Goodman. A pathetic and stubborn try to defend sticking her nose into someone’s personal life. Saying that Chan doesn’t know what s
Nov 30, 2009 rated it liked it
I am pretty certain that this book will really only be enjoyed by long time fans of Cat Power. I started listening to Cat Power around 1996. I was really into Sonic Youth, and heard that Steve Shelley, Sonic Youth's drummer, had a new record label with a band called Cat Power. This was my introduction to Chan Marshall. Her music is strange, haunting, depressing, and sometimes addicting. I saw her live several times, both in Minneapolis and Albuquerque, and she was usually pretty terrible and/or ...more
Jul 24, 2012 rated it liked it
So, a lot of this book was good. I think mostly because Chan Marshall is an interesting person, and I think there were some cool ideas about identity and binaries in there. But, there could have, and perhaps should have been more of that. And I also kept finding myself really annoyed with the author's dismissal of the misogyny Chan faced as a young female artist in a community of male artists. Goodman also said a lot of really annoying stuff about Chan's "transformation" from "tomboy" to "glam i ...more
May 16, 2009 rated it liked it
I always like to learn about the events taking place in musician lives and how it parallels the music they are making at that time. There was a coverage of that in this book- Chan's love life, Chan's varying points of (in)sanity. There was a decent amount of information regarding Chan's upbringing and background. However, it needed some sort of extra oomph. I suppose that extra spark may have been received if the author had been allowed to speak with Chan and the people in Chan's life. She defin ...more
Apr 22, 2009 rated it liked it
I was intrigued by the subject of this unauthorized biography and was not disappointed. It started off a bit slow. Chan was not directly interviewed for the book, but the author found plenty of interviews from family and childhood/fringe friends. A lot of the content was a mix of conjecture and excerpts taken from magazine articles. All said, the book was interesting and completely renewed my interest in Cat Power and Chan in general.
Adrienne Urbanski
Jun 23, 2009 rated it liked it
This book is pieced together entirely from past interviews and distant secondary sources, making most of it rooted in conjecture and heresay. Although a bit dry at points, I found the book enthralling at points and worth reading. However, this is due to the fact that I have a personal interest in Chan Marshall, and wonder who the beautiful woman behind my favorite albums is. Those who don't like her music/persona will most likely not like this book.
Omar Manejwala
Dec 27, 2012 rated it really liked it
I had been obsessed with Chan and her music for years when I discovered this book, and my obsession only increased as a result. I read this in one really exposes the complexities of her character and provides a level of insight into her experiences that really enhanced my experience of her music. A must read for anyone who is interested in Cat don't have to have the fan-obsession level that I do to really enjoy this account.
Defensive, overwrought drivel. It's like Goodman took it as a personal affront that Chan Marshall objected to an unsolicited biography being written about her, and thus she tried to make it as salacious and scandalous as possible. I was only ever a casual fan of Cat Power, and I haven't heard her music or seen her live since 'The Greatest'. Still I thought this might be an interesting read (I found it lying around the house). Unfortunately, I couldn't even finish it, I abandoned it by page 95.
Jul 07, 2009 rated it it was ok
Cat Power makes some of my favorite music. And Chan Marshall is an interesting woman. But this book is not very well written. There are some details that make it occasionally satisfying, but it's less a book than an overlong article. Or, it could be a really good Rolling Stone article at 5,000 words or so instead of a book.
Lee Hannah
Nov 14, 2011 rated it liked it
The introduction is extremely off putting. Without Chan's permission it's hard to really get a great overview. Skips over so many important moments too quickly and addresses very little about Chan's songwriting process in general. When the music is reviewed it is done in very much an oversimplified Rolling Stoneish fashion. But disappointing but still rather interesting.
Aug 09, 2009 rated it really liked it
Shelves: favorites, own, 2009
Any Cat Power fan will love how insightful this book is regardless of how "true" it is. It inspired me to start writing and recording my own songs. There's also glossy a middle section with a few photos of her, bwadass. Good for anyone who like to collect muso bios.
May 07, 2011 rated it it was ok
If you're a fan of Cat Power and/or Chan Marshall and her music and mental-emotional inner life this is a truly interesting read! I'm quite partial to listening to the Moonshine or Dark End of the Street recordssssss whilst reading.
Apr 07, 2009 rated it liked it
apparently Chan Marshall doesn't want me to read this book, but I'm reading it anyway. I learned some things. Took it all with a grain of salt. nice quick read.
Aug 10, 2009 rated it liked it
Shelves: read-in-2009
An alright read. Chan Marshall comes off as completely self-indulgent, but it's an interesting look at a particular music scene at a particular time.
Aug 23, 2009 rated it liked it
Easy, quick read. I love Cat Power's music and I found the book interesting.
Apr 30, 2011 rated it liked it
I never listened to Cat Power and had no idea that she was from Atlanta. Definitely a fan-book, an enjoyable one.
Dec 03, 2012 rated it liked it
Poorly written and somewhat repetitive, but entertaining. Gave me a new appreciation for Cat Power's music (especially her early stuff) and how she lives life.
May 10, 2013 rated it did not like it
I love Chan Marshall, but ether her life is boring or it's this book. I couldn't decide. Also, it has the most hideous font usage in a book. I felt like I should be reading Teen Beat magazine.
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