Now this is one I was very excited about reading. The music of Sonic Youth has been blasting in my ears for many years and I was very keen on reading Kim’s stories about the band, her relationship with Thurston Moore and many other stories from what has been a fairly exceptional career.
The book starts with Sonic Youth’s last ever appearance at a festival where they’re one of the smallest names on the bill. It’s a desperate time, with her and Thurston not on speaking terms. Some of the best parts of the book come when she’s talking about their relationship. We find out how they met, with Thurston younger than her, very unlike her other boyfriends; confident and not as immersed in the art world as other people she’s come to know. He was more attracted to domesticity than she was and the level of his faith made her think the marriage could work She says he’s not as easygoing as people thought and we see the downward spiral of their relationship, with Thurston becoming increasingly distracted in later life when they move home and Kim discovering a number of texts between Thurston and another woman. She finds him to be a serial liar and asks him to move out after further terrible discoveries on the phone.
The book outlines her feelings about New York and LA and the start of the band, with Gordon saying she felt self-conscious in her early days on stage, feeling she had no technical ability to speak of but wanting to lose herself in the music. I had hoped for greater depth and insight in these pieces but it really felt like we were flying through things and she doesn’t really lock into things in the way I had hoped. There’s a shocking amount of name-dropping going on for such a short book, with Gordon letting us know Keanu Reeves showed up at a video shoot and story about her, Thurston and Michael Stipe visiting William Burroughs and him asking about Kurt Cobain. This all makes the book feel trivial and I have to say it really grated on it me over the course of the book.
This book could’ve been so good but the end result came across to me as a fairly slapdash effort that actually gives us only a very slim understanding of a person that could surely have offered so much more in Girl In a Band.