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This Woman's Work: Essays on Music

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This Woman’s Work: Essays on Music is edited by Kim Gordon and Sinead Gleeson and features contributors Anne Enright, Fatima Bhutto, Jenn Pelly, Rachel Kushner, Juliana Huxtable, Leslie Jamison, Liz Pelly, Maggie Nelson, Margo Jefferson, Megan Jasper, Ottessa Moshfegh, Simone White, Yiyun Li and Zakia Sewell. Published to challenge the historic narrative of music and music This Woman’s Work: Essays on Music is edited by Kim Gordon and Sinead Gleeson and features contributors Anne Enright, Fatima Bhutto, Jenn Pelly, Rachel Kushner, Juliana Huxtable, Leslie Jamison, Liz Pelly, Maggie Nelson, Margo Jefferson, Megan Jasper, Ottessa Moshfegh, Simone White, Yiyun Li and Zakia Sewell. Published to challenge the historic narrative of music and music writing being written by men, for men, This Woman’s Work seeks to confront the male dominance and sexism that have been hard-coded in the canons of music, literature, and film and has forced women to fight pigeon-holing or being side-lined by carving out their own space. Women have to speak up, to shout louder to tell their story – like the auteurs and ground-breakers featured in this collection, including: Anne Enright on Laurie Anderson; Megan Jasper on her ground-breaking work with Sub Pop; Margo Jefferson on Bud Powell and Ella Fitzgerald; and Fatima Bhutto on music and dictatorship. This Woman’s Work also features writing on the experimentalists, women who blended music and activism, the genre-breakers, the vocal auteurs; stories of lost homelands and friends; of propaganda and dictatorships, the women of folk and country, the racialised tropes of jazz, the music of Trap and Carriacou; of mixtapes and violin lessons.


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This Woman’s Work: Essays on Music is edited by Kim Gordon and Sinead Gleeson and features contributors Anne Enright, Fatima Bhutto, Jenn Pelly, Rachel Kushner, Juliana Huxtable, Leslie Jamison, Liz Pelly, Maggie Nelson, Margo Jefferson, Megan Jasper, Ottessa Moshfegh, Simone White, Yiyun Li and Zakia Sewell. Published to challenge the historic narrative of music and music This Woman’s Work: Essays on Music is edited by Kim Gordon and Sinead Gleeson and features contributors Anne Enright, Fatima Bhutto, Jenn Pelly, Rachel Kushner, Juliana Huxtable, Leslie Jamison, Liz Pelly, Maggie Nelson, Margo Jefferson, Megan Jasper, Ottessa Moshfegh, Simone White, Yiyun Li and Zakia Sewell. Published to challenge the historic narrative of music and music writing being written by men, for men, This Woman’s Work seeks to confront the male dominance and sexism that have been hard-coded in the canons of music, literature, and film and has forced women to fight pigeon-holing or being side-lined by carving out their own space. Women have to speak up, to shout louder to tell their story – like the auteurs and ground-breakers featured in this collection, including: Anne Enright on Laurie Anderson; Megan Jasper on her ground-breaking work with Sub Pop; Margo Jefferson on Bud Powell and Ella Fitzgerald; and Fatima Bhutto on music and dictatorship. This Woman’s Work also features writing on the experimentalists, women who blended music and activism, the genre-breakers, the vocal auteurs; stories of lost homelands and friends; of propaganda and dictatorships, the women of folk and country, the racialised tropes of jazz, the music of Trap and Carriacou; of mixtapes and violin lessons.

30 review for This Woman's Work: Essays on Music

  1. 4 out of 5

    Peter Boyle

    This is a collection of essays on the subject of women in music, from the auteurs and pioneers who broke down barriers in a male-dominated world, to more personal tales of the ways in which music can enrich a life. It's co-edited by Kim Gordon from Sonic Youth and Sinead Gleeson, the Irish critic and author of Constellations, a terrific anthology of her own non-fiction. The book gets off to a great start with Anne Enright's appreciation of the avant-garde composer Laurie Anderson. She talks about This is a collection of essays on the subject of women in music, from the auteurs and pioneers who broke down barriers in a male-dominated world, to more personal tales of the ways in which music can enrich a life. It's co-edited by Kim Gordon from Sonic Youth and Sinead Gleeson, the Irish critic and author of Constellations, a terrific anthology of her own non-fiction. The book gets off to a great start with Anne Enright's appreciation of the avant-garde composer Laurie Anderson. She talks about finally having the chance to meet her hero during an event the Irish Arts Centre in New York. All of the things Enright has wanted to say for years are racing through her head - she is bursting to explain how much Anderson's work has meant to her. And she ends up completely tongued-tied, unable to get anything remotely intelligible out. We've all been there, haven't we? It's a delightful take on the highs and lows of fandom. Many of the pieces look at music as a form of identity in some way. Maggie Nelson writes beautifully about the American artist Lhasa de Sela, "my first and only truly bohemian friend." They were pals at school when a rudderless de Sela found her calling as a singer, later going on to create extraordinary albums that won multiple awards. She died of breast cancer aged 37 and though they had drifted apart in later years, Nelson looks back on their friendship with fond memories. The standout essay for me comes from Leslie Jamison, and it's constructed around eight different mix-tapes that she has listened to at various times in her life. At one point she comes to realise that her taste in music has been shaped by her efforts to win the approval of men, "that I'd spent much of my life trying to gain the affirmation of men by loving what they loved, and by creating myself as a person they would see as worthy of love." But when lockdown arrives, she dances to her own playlists at home with her young daughter, and begins to write a new story for herself. There were several other pieces I enjoyed, such as Sub Pop CEO Megan Jasper's memories of answering the phones when she joined the label as a receptionist at the height of grunge, and Gleeson's own account of her admiration for electronic trailblazer Wendy Carlos. It's a wide-ranging, thought-provoking collection of writing that shines a light on some of the female stories that have been marginalized through the history of music. I'd happily read another volume.

  2. 5 out of 5

    Scarlett Sangster

    If approaching this collection expecting a feminist critique of the music industry, readers will be surprised but not necessarily disappointed to find a series of nostalgic ruminations from critics, essayists and industry professionals about the personal significance of music in their lives. This eclectic collection invites you to indulge in the fandom, influence and experiences (good and bad) brought about by the artists each contributor most admires. A tip for readers – don’t read in order. Yo If approaching this collection expecting a feminist critique of the music industry, readers will be surprised but not necessarily disappointed to find a series of nostalgic ruminations from critics, essayists and industry professionals about the personal significance of music in their lives. This eclectic collection invites you to indulge in the fandom, influence and experiences (good and bad) brought about by the artists each contributor most admires. A tip for readers – don’t read in order. You won’t know all of the artists and many are hard to track down on streaming libraries. This might be off-putting for some, and makes certain chapters more difficult to relate to – but if you can find them, listening to the artist as you read gives the collection a whole new level of immersion. Who knows, maybe future editions will be published with a mixtape. 7/10 - reviewed for Press Association

  3. 4 out of 5

    Harry Goodwin

    A lovely collection. Naturally, some pieces delight more than others, but highlights include one about Wendy Carlos and Kim Gordon's interview with that shimmering one Yoshimi Yokota. Thanks ren for the pressie! Japanese music ooh aah A lovely collection. Naturally, some pieces delight more than others, but highlights include one about Wendy Carlos and Kim Gordon's interview with that shimmering one Yoshimi Yokota. Thanks ren for the pressie! Japanese music ooh aah

  4. 5 out of 5

    enjoyingbooksagain

    This is a interesting book about women speaking out and telling their their stories about being groundbreakers and having to break and kick a few doors to get where they are in music of their generation. I loved reading about how they started out and working their way up and dealing in a man world. It’s a powerful women story. Women need to speak up and shout loader to tell their stories

  5. 4 out of 5

    Carolyn Lochhead

    I was fully on board with the concept of this book, described on the flyleaf as to "challenge the historic narrative of music and music writing being written by men, for men". And there are some engaging essays in this anthology. Megan Jasper provides a reflection on the early days of Sub Pop which is at times funny, sad and jaw-dropping. Leslie Jamison's Essay in Eight Mixes uses mix-tapes she has loved at various points in her life as a device for sharing memories about work, identity and relat I was fully on board with the concept of this book, described on the flyleaf as to "challenge the historic narrative of music and music writing being written by men, for men". And there are some engaging essays in this anthology. Megan Jasper provides a reflection on the early days of Sub Pop which is at times funny, sad and jaw-dropping. Leslie Jamison's Essay in Eight Mixes uses mix-tapes she has loved at various points in her life as a device for sharing memories about work, identity and relationships that feel complete and coherent. And Ottessa Moshfegh's reminiscence about her music teacher Valentina, and her own journey away from performing as a musician, is a short but well-constructed piece of memoir. Sadly, these essays are the exception. I struggled to stay with many of the other articles, which were often overly long and without any clear point to make. The writers meander around their musical memories and opinions in a manner that is close to self-indulgence, and when I did manage to make it to the end, I was none the wiser about what it was they wanted to convey. This was a good idea for an anthology, but it needed tighter editorial discipline. Perhaps there will be a more successful second volume.

  6. 5 out of 5

    Cat Woods

    This is solid gold. It shouldn't be a rarity for women to work in music journalism. Women make music, we birth music, we love it and nurture it and feed from it. Why wouldn't we be experts in writing on it, too? This collection of essays is insightful, challenging, candid, funny and memorable in a perfect alchemy of writers who are united in their passion for music, but so different in their specific experiences. It's a joy to immerse yourself in one or two essays at a time, perhaps revisiting a This is solid gold. It shouldn't be a rarity for women to work in music journalism. Women make music, we birth music, we love it and nurture it and feed from it. Why wouldn't we be experts in writing on it, too? This collection of essays is insightful, challenging, candid, funny and memorable in a perfect alchemy of writers who are united in their passion for music, but so different in their specific experiences. It's a joy to immerse yourself in one or two essays at a time, perhaps revisiting a line or a reference, and then taking a few days to think it over before continuing. Rachel Kushner is a lesson in class, as ever, and Kim Gordon's gorgeous paean to a largely underacknowledged punk rock pioneer is wonderful.

  7. 4 out of 5

    Kanako Okiron

    I was expecting this book to be a collection of essays about musicians, by musicians I couldn’t name other than Kim Gordon (mainly why I picked up this book) but I was wrong. A good mix of musicians and music journalists. I thoroughly enjoyed the opening piece by Anne Enright, (Fan Girl), a perfect humourous essay to begin the book. Kim Gordon’s piece was interesting, but rather than about herself, it was an interview between her and Yoshimi, a drummer for a Japanese “Japanoise” equivalent of Son I was expecting this book to be a collection of essays about musicians, by musicians I couldn’t name other than Kim Gordon (mainly why I picked up this book) but I was wrong. A good mix of musicians and music journalists. I thoroughly enjoyed the opening piece by Anne Enright, (Fan Girl), a perfect humourous essay to begin the book. Kim Gordon’s piece was interesting, but rather than about herself, it was an interview between her and Yoshimi, a drummer for a Japanese “Japanoise” equivalent of Sonic Youth, Boredoms. I guess because she wrote her own memoir Kim felt compelled to write about someone else but I feel like that would have worked better if Yoshimi submitted an essay herself. Other than that, a great read.

  8. 5 out of 5

    Renee

    “Criticisms will not and cannot fuck with trap.” -From What’s Going on in Rap Music in This Woman’s Work 3.5 stars This is certainly an eclectic collection, told from many points of view. For some, I was looking for a more detailed “music” vibe than what actually delivered. I think the project was a great idea, but starting with Fan Girl for a bit of a disservice as this is the lense many woman are viewed as. Some of the contributions I liked most are from Leslie Jamison, Liz Pelly and Simone Whi “Criticisms will not and cannot fuck with trap.” -From What’s Going on in Rap Music in This Woman’s Work 3.5 stars This is certainly an eclectic collection, told from many points of view. For some, I was looking for a more detailed “music” vibe than what actually delivered. I think the project was a great idea, but starting with Fan Girl for a bit of a disservice as this is the lense many woman are viewed as. Some of the contributions I liked most are from Leslie Jamison, Liz Pelly and Simone White. All in all, if you are interested in music, I would take a look at some of the essays here. Thank you to the authors, publisher, and NetGalley for an advanced copy in exchange for an honest review.

  9. 5 out of 5

    Jodi

    Even thugh for me this was a pretty uneven collection, I would still read 88 more books exactly like this: women talking about music and what it has meant in their lives. Some of these essays were chef's kiss and others were kind of a snooze. The essay on Lucinda Williams and the one about Ella Fitzgerald were the stars of this show. Even thugh for me this was a pretty uneven collection, I would still read 88 more books exactly like this: women talking about music and what it has meant in their lives. Some of these essays were chef's kiss and others were kind of a snooze. The essay on Lucinda Williams and the one about Ella Fitzgerald were the stars of this show.

  10. 5 out of 5

    Anna

    Just so good and so worth a read

  11. 5 out of 5

    Nicolettenat

    I've never been so devastated by an oboe in my life I've never been so devastated by an oboe in my life

  12. 5 out of 5

    Kevin Pope

  13. 5 out of 5

    Tara Hardy

  14. 4 out of 5

    Christina

  15. 4 out of 5

    John Lawton

  16. 5 out of 5

    Rory Mackie

  17. 5 out of 5

    Ron S

  18. 5 out of 5

    NS

  19. 4 out of 5

    Paula

  20. 5 out of 5

    Janine

  21. 5 out of 5

    Eda Ihlamur

  22. 4 out of 5

    Fiona O'dea

  23. 4 out of 5

    Keira Brown

  24. 5 out of 5

    Alan

  25. 5 out of 5

    Jason

  26. 5 out of 5

    Zachary Polendo

  27. 5 out of 5

    Martin

  28. 4 out of 5

    Siobhán

  29. 5 out of 5

    Marian

  30. 4 out of 5

    Sam Robinson

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