Meen's Reviews > On the Many Deaths of Amanda Palmer: And the Many Crimes of Tobias James

On the Many Deaths of Amanda Palmer by Rohan Kriwaczek
Rate this book
Clear rating

's review
Jun 11, 2011

really liked it
bookshelves: bibliophilia-writing-language, fiction, funny-ha-ha, own-it, artsy-fartsy
Recommended to Meen by: Got it at the Wall St. Borders closing sale.

Many years ago now, not too long after I got sober but before I started my education in earnest, I remember being so intimidated by the public radio show "This American Life" that I told myself I didn't like it, and I would switch the channel (which I actually mostly did listen to at that point, shout out to Mississippi Public Broadcasting) when it came on. The reason why it intimidated me was that it used a lot of language I didn't quite understand (yet) and explored all these deep, existential facets of the human experience that I hadn't (yet) learned to even recognize, much less delve into just for the sake of personal enlightenment, or even just for the sake of self-congratulatory intellectual stimulation.

And all of that "intellectualism" was/is all wrapped up in class for me. I grew up working class, and one of the things that distinguished "those" people from us was education, and "fancy" language, and a life lived on the salaries of the mind rather than the wages of the body. And, of course, all of that difference was hierarchically valued. "Those" people were the "best" people, and we were the "lesser" people, and no matter how proud you tried to be of yourself and your class, every indication from the larger society (from distribution of material resources to political power to societal accolades and just general popularity) made it clear that "those" folks had more intrinsic worth, more beauty and light and morals and smarts, more inherent value as human beings, than yours did. So, "This American Life" pushed those buttons for me early on, because I didn't quite "get" it intellectually (yet), and it seemed not for "my people," and that feeling was inevitably tinged with shame...

I say all that to say that this book was not exactly like that for me now because there's been a lot of education, a lot of (sometimes obnoxious) intellectual growth and awareness, and a gigantic (and also sometimes obnoxious) vocabulary expansion, but it made me think about that time in my life. Because this book is one of those artsy, hip, almost abstruse works that I'm never quite sure I "get" when I see or read or hear them. So as I was reading it I was aware that there was probably something happening that I wasn't catching, and when I recognized that awareness it made me think of how before my education that awareness would've made me not read the book at all. There was even that tinge of shame, albeit a modified one: now I'm educated, yes, and maybe even one of those "professional" people, but I'm not one of the "artsy" people who really "get" and appreciate oh-so-profound and esoteric work like this. (It's like I keep moving the marker of who are the "best" people, and it's inevitably whatever people I think I can never be.) BUT, mostly I was able to just observe all of that internal dialogue and not go with the feelings, just being aware of it, noticing how very much I've changed since I got sober and began my education.

After all THAT was out of the way, I actually found this book DEE-lightful, and sometimes for reasons I couldn't even point to (because I didn't necessarily consciously "get" what was happening literarily, I guess). And maybe I'm making this review all about myself because other than that I don't have much to say about the book because I really am not sure what it was, and maybe that's the point. It's just not like anything else I've ever read. It's kind of uncategorizable (unless you're one of those profound, esoteric artsy types who really does "get" it, in which case, please fill me in), and that was actually part of the joy of it. It felt kind of like being a kid and just delighting in something, a dandelion, dirt, blowing bubbles in milk, just because it is, not because you understand it in any kind of cerebral way. Yet, it was a very cerebral book... Maybe at this point in my development, the cerebral is comfortable enough for me that it's become my "just is." Whatever was going on with me and my experience of this book, it was thrilling enough that I must read his other book soon: (An Incomplete History of the Art of the Funerary Violins)

PS. I adore "This American Life" now.
8 likes · flag

Sign into Goodreads to see if any of your friends have read On the Many Deaths of Amanda Palmer.
Sign In »

Reading Progress

June 11, 2011 – Started Reading
June 11, 2011 – Shelved
June 11, 2011 – Shelved as: bibliophilia-writing-language
June 11, 2011 – Shelved as: fiction
June 11, 2011 – Shelved as: funny-ha-ha
June 11, 2011 – Shelved as: own-it
June 15, 2011 – Shelved as: artsy-fartsy
June 15, 2011 – Finished Reading

Comments (showing 1-9 of 9) (9 new)

dateDown arrow    newest »

Jackie "the Librarian" I love how insightful you are, Mindy, and how brave you are about sharing your journey with others.
And, I know nothing about Amanda Palmer, but I want to read this book now. And hear her music.

Jackie "the Librarian" Oh, and I used to think "This American Life" was boring, too, until I got into my thirties and really listened to it.

Meen Thanks, Jackie! It may just be exhibitionism rather than bravery.


Lol, I have NO desire to listen to Amanda Palmer after reading this. I think it's some kind of residual resentment against her hip artsy-farsty-ness! Hah!

message 4: by Kristen (new)

Kristen I think I may enjoy reading about how books make someone contemplate themselves, rather than their contemplations about the book. You have wonderful insight Mindy and it was a joy to read.

Meen Thanks, Kristen!

message 6: by Trevor (new)

Trevor Oh no, this was brave - lovely review. Even the questioning if it was just exhibitionism is brave.

message 7: by Clif (new)

Clif Hostetler Regarding your review and its message, I'm not sure I "get" it, but I liked it anyway.

Meen Good to know I can pass the confusion along!

Meen And thank you, Trevor!

back to top