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From the two-time Grammy-nominated singer-songwriter behind the groundbreaking album Exile in Guyville comes a haunting memoir in stories in the tradition of Patti Smith's M Train When Liz Phair was just starting out in the Wicker Park, Chicago, music scene in the early 1990s, she mostly encountered a**holes—mostly men, who didn't respect her an From the two-time Grammy-nominated singer-songwriter behind the groundbreaking album Exile in Guyville comes a haunting memoir in stories in the tradition of Patti Smith's M Train When Liz Phair was just starting out in the Wicker Park, Chicago, music scene in the early 1990s, she mostly encountered a**holes—mostly men, who didn't respect her and were determined not to see her fail, exactly, because they didn't care enough about her to wish failure on her—they just wanted her to get out of their space, to disappear. "Girly Sound" was the name of the cassettes she used to pass around in those days, and in 1993 those songs became the landmark album Exile in Guyville, which turned Phair, at twenty-five, into a foul-mouthed feminist icon. Now, like a Gen X Patti Smith, Liz Phair tells the story of her life and career in a memoir about the moments that have haunted her most. Horror is in the eye of the beholder. For Phair, horror is what stays with you—the often unrecognized, universal experiences of daily pain, shame, and fear that make up our common humanity. In Phair's case it means the dangers of falling for "the perfect guy," and the disaster that awaits her; the memory of a stranger passed out on a bathroom floor amid a crowd of girls, forcing her to consider our responsibilities to one another, and the gnawing regret of being a bystander; and the profound sense of emptiness she experienced on the set of her first celebrity photoshoot. Horror Stories reads like the confessions of a friend, a book that gathers up all of our isolated shames, bringing us together in our shared imperfection, our uncertainty and our cowardice, smashing the stigma of not being in control. But most importantly, Horror Stories is a memoir that asks questions of how we feel about the things that have happened to us, how we cope with regret and culpability, and how we break the spell of those things, leeching them of their power over us. This memoir is an immersive experience, taking readers inside the most intimate moments of Phair's life. Her fearless prose, wit, and uncompromising honesty transform those deeply personal moments into tales about each and every one of us—that will appeal to both the serious fan and the serious reader.


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From the two-time Grammy-nominated singer-songwriter behind the groundbreaking album Exile in Guyville comes a haunting memoir in stories in the tradition of Patti Smith's M Train When Liz Phair was just starting out in the Wicker Park, Chicago, music scene in the early 1990s, she mostly encountered a**holes—mostly men, who didn't respect her an From the two-time Grammy-nominated singer-songwriter behind the groundbreaking album Exile in Guyville comes a haunting memoir in stories in the tradition of Patti Smith's M Train When Liz Phair was just starting out in the Wicker Park, Chicago, music scene in the early 1990s, she mostly encountered a**holes—mostly men, who didn't respect her and were determined not to see her fail, exactly, because they didn't care enough about her to wish failure on her—they just wanted her to get out of their space, to disappear. "Girly Sound" was the name of the cassettes she used to pass around in those days, and in 1993 those songs became the landmark album Exile in Guyville, which turned Phair, at twenty-five, into a foul-mouthed feminist icon. Now, like a Gen X Patti Smith, Liz Phair tells the story of her life and career in a memoir about the moments that have haunted her most. Horror is in the eye of the beholder. For Phair, horror is what stays with you—the often unrecognized, universal experiences of daily pain, shame, and fear that make up our common humanity. In Phair's case it means the dangers of falling for "the perfect guy," and the disaster that awaits her; the memory of a stranger passed out on a bathroom floor amid a crowd of girls, forcing her to consider our responsibilities to one another, and the gnawing regret of being a bystander; and the profound sense of emptiness she experienced on the set of her first celebrity photoshoot. Horror Stories reads like the confessions of a friend, a book that gathers up all of our isolated shames, bringing us together in our shared imperfection, our uncertainty and our cowardice, smashing the stigma of not being in control. But most importantly, Horror Stories is a memoir that asks questions of how we feel about the things that have happened to us, how we cope with regret and culpability, and how we break the spell of those things, leeching them of their power over us. This memoir is an immersive experience, taking readers inside the most intimate moments of Phair's life. Her fearless prose, wit, and uncompromising honesty transform those deeply personal moments into tales about each and every one of us—that will appeal to both the serious fan and the serious reader.

30 review for Horror Stories: A Memoir

  1. 4 out of 5

    Nenia ✨️ Socially Awkward Trash Panda ✨️ Campbell

    Instagram || Twitter || Facebook || Amazon || Pinterest This is actually one of the best memoirs I have ever read. I'm shocked because most celebrity memoirs end up as something of a disappointment. HORROR STORIES was not. It blasted through my expectations, shattering them like broken glass. Reading this is like listening to new wave music-- it's dark, it's lyrical, and it will pull you under its black sea of emotion, leaving you to drown in the turbulent emotion that's an integral part of t Instagram || Twitter || Facebook || Amazon || Pinterest This is actually one of the best memoirs I have ever read. I'm shocked because most celebrity memoirs end up as something of a disappointment. HORROR STORIES was not. It blasted through my expectations, shattering them like broken glass. Reading this is like listening to new wave music-- it's dark, it's lyrical, and it will pull you under its black sea of emotion, leaving you to drown in the turbulent emotion that's an integral part of the experience. I was expecting HORROR STORIES to be all about Liz Phair's childhood, followed by her big break as a celebrity songwriter, followed by the usual "extended Oscar speech" formula in which the author tells glowing stories of all the great and talented people they know who helped them on their star-studded path to fame. Phair doesn't really focus on that at all. These essays are all discrete incidents taken from her life, many of them strikingly personal and jarring, and the theme, in true form to the title, is that these are all incidents that haunt her to this day, that she carries with her, and that have helped to make her who she is. I felt haunted, too, after finishing this book. She is such a great writer and you really feel like you're there with here while she's describing each scene. She writes about being stuck outside in New York in the middle of the polar vortex, navigating empty and icy streets with thundersnow looming overhead. She writes about a chilling "Final Destination" moment, which results in near-disfigurement and/or death. She writes about the birth of her son, and the horror of her labor. She writes about college life, feminism, art, fame, privilege, mortality salience, and life. Every chapter was absolutely wonderful and there was not a single piece in this collection that I didn't like. One caveat is that the copy I read and am reviewing is an unfinished ARC. Usually, my ARCs are pretty polished and, in the cases that I have compared them to finished copies, don't seem to vary much, but this one was missing two chapters. Not a big deal to me, as I loved the book and I doubt those two chapters contained any material that would have changed my rating, but in the interest of full disclosure, do keep in mind that my copy may differ slightly from the one that you buy. Seriously, this is such a wonderful memoir. You should read it. I feel like this aptly-named book will stay with me a while. Thanks to the publisher for sending me a copy in exchange for an honest review!  5 stars

  2. 4 out of 5

    Eilonwy

    Liz Phair's album Exile in Guyville has held a long power among alt-rock listeners of a Certain Age. I saw her show for that album in Boston, and I've been thinking about it over the past year because the cover of Daisy Jones & The Six keeps popping up in my GR feed, and looks so similar to the album cover. So when I saw that Liz Phair had written a collection of memoirs, I put an immediate hold on it. The title is perfect for October, but these horror stories are about very personal demons: th Liz Phair's album Exile in Guyville has held a long power among alt-rock listeners of a Certain Age. I saw her show for that album in Boston, and I've been thinking about it over the past year because the cover of Daisy Jones & The Six keeps popping up in my GR feed, and looks so similar to the album cover. So when I saw that Liz Phair had written a collection of memoirs, I put an immediate hold on it. The title is perfect for October, but these horror stories are about very personal demons: the way we fail other people and beat ourselves up over it; the way other people fail us and we suffer the consequences; the way we make wrong assumptions about other people; and the way we can't see ourselves clearly and accurately, either, and just hope we're good people, or at least okay people. Liz is brutally honest as she tells these stories on herself, with insight and empathy (although she often regrets that both of those qualities came too late for a particular situation). Among other stories, she pulls no punches in describing the affair she had that ended her marriage, and her later experience with betrayal by a serious boyfriend; both stories are told simply and straightforwardly, which has the effect of making them feel more poignant to me than they might have if she had flowered them up. Her recollections of the constant sexual harassment she faced as a young woman (and even sometimes as a middle-aged woman) will resonate with all female readers: is there any one of us who hasn't experienced this crap over and over again? Like most memoir/essay collections, the topics are somewhat all over the place, but all of these are beautifully recounted, with a combination of sensitivity and austerity that I really enjoyed and admired. And now I've got to go give Exile in Guyville yet another listen.

  3. 5 out of 5

    Eric

    Upon first seeing Horror Stories by Liz Phair, I thought of how this was going to be a roller-coaster of a book told in the fashion of an in-your-face, rip-snorting recounting of loud and audacious tales from a wild rock and roller. How wrong I was and what a pleasant surprise it was to read the pages of this memoir and to discover the book was not at all what I thought it would be. This is not a rock and roll book that spills the beans on the career of a performer like Liz Phair. It also is not Upon first seeing Horror Stories by Liz Phair, I thought of how this was going to be a roller-coaster of a book told in the fashion of an in-your-face, rip-snorting recounting of loud and audacious tales from a wild rock and roller. How wrong I was and what a pleasant surprise it was to read the pages of this memoir and to discover the book was not at all what I thought it would be. This is not a rock and roll book that spills the beans on the career of a performer like Liz Phair. It also is not the writing or storytelling of an adult with the personality of an immature twenty-year-old while being stuck in the past. This memoir is not about the spilling of stories to shock and titillate the reader while the reader hopes to somehow live vicariously through the life of a celebrity. It is instead a thoughtful recounting of events in a person's life, of whom just happens to be a rock and roll celebrity, and what the person has learned from these events and hopes to share with others in a meaningful way. Phair's writing is open, frank and sincere and is devoid of a reluctance to write of personal aspects of her life that others sometimes avoid. Along the way she deftly passes on to the reader what her experiences have taught her about life, both from the start and until the end. After reading Horror Stories, I am confident to predict that many will see Liz Phair differently than prior to reading the book. She does not apologize for being successful and a celebrity, but aptly describes how celebrity and physical attractiveness can both impede and enhance a person's life and when doing so does not come off as being arrogant, superficial or insincere. Though she does not apologize for her celebrity, she does apologize for behaviors in her past that may have hurt others. The chapters on her pregnancy and birth of her son and preparing for old age were especially poignant. Liz Phair also writes an introduction to the memoir that successfully sets up what follows so the reader will establish appreciate her words even more.

  4. 4 out of 5

    Sayo

    I grew up listening to Liz Phair, and I really wanted to like this book. But it was not my cup of tea, while I appreciate the candor in her stories, they were very dramatic. And I think much more dramatic then they had to be, I was turned off when she described a tennis game with an ex boyfriend and when she realized he was a much better tennis player than her she burst into tears and was inconsolable, really?! While I'm sure there is more to that story than just what was floating on the surface, I grew up listening to Liz Phair, and I really wanted to like this book. But it was not my cup of tea, while I appreciate the candor in her stories, they were very dramatic. And I think much more dramatic then they had to be, I was turned off when she described a tennis game with an ex boyfriend and when she realized he was a much better tennis player than her she burst into tears and was inconsolable, really?! While I'm sure there is more to that story than just what was floating on the surface, it did not make me any more empathetic towards her.  The feeling that I got from these stories was that these were all horrifying experiences for her, and I'm sure many of them were, but she hams it up a lot. Almost like she assumed we would all be shocked that all this happened to her... but in reality it's not shocking, it's just stuff that happens.  I hate assuming how an author feels when writing anything, and I'm sure this was a very cathartic experience for her, writing it all out.  But it read a lot like the ramblings of a drama queen.

  5. 5 out of 5

    Rennie

    This is imperfect, but ends up being pretty meaningful anyway. I would've skipped it because I really don't like celebrity memoirs even when they're celebrities I like. Also I haven't paid her newer stuff any attention in the last decade or so even though I loved her something fierce in that pivotal high school/college-age time that she reached so many of us. The NPR writeup changed my mind because the quotes were so powerful. I don't know why I'm surprised, her songs were always like that, with This is imperfect, but ends up being pretty meaningful anyway. I would've skipped it because I really don't like celebrity memoirs even when they're celebrities I like. Also I haven't paid her newer stuff any attention in the last decade or so even though I loved her something fierce in that pivotal high school/college-age time that she reached so many of us. The NPR writeup changed my mind because the quotes were so powerful. I don't know why I'm surprised, her songs were always like that, with some totally gut-punching lines. So it wasn't what I expected, in a good way, because it's not a musician memoir - although there are some such stories here, actually my least favorite among the topics covered. The general concept is parsing the awful things we do to each other on a smaller scale, the everyday horror stories that end up lingering longer even than the big obvious ones: "Horror can be found in brief interactions that are as cumulatively powerful as the splashy heart-stoppers, because that’s where we live most of our lives." It made me remember why I loved her in the first place. And something I was completely unprepared for (sorry Liz, this is about me now): I even felt some little forgotten piece of myself coming back, with the thoughts or memories she stirred up, or my own horror stories that mirrored something in hers (those things that become “haunting melodies I hear over and over again in my head”); or in the events, emotions, and interactions that affected her and I could feel why so viscerally. I am so grateful for that. Whatever flaws this has, it's incredible art that can bring you back something of yourself and this did it. She's a bit more into the woo-woo than I would imagine considering how grounded and realistic she comes off elsewhere, there are a few too many scenes on airplanes, it can be melodramatic (but like, who among us doesn't have those melodramatic moments where some emotion unexpectedly overwhelms reason and before you know it you're forever scarred by something small or stupid), and I really wish editors would go a little harder on celebrities or even big authors - I get the impression they're afraid to touch their work sometimes, and this could've benefited from some editing tweaks (can't we all just agree to banish the adding of extra letters to a word for emphasis? We're collectively better than that!) But I was so moved by it overall. I think this'll speak to sensitive, empathic types. It's confessional, funny, silly, painfully honest even when it makes her look bad or shallow, and... strangely healing? Is that what I'm trying to describe here? I'm not sure. But a lot of it resonated, sometimes surprisingly so. I'm so glad she wrote it. Some favorite lines out of a bunch of them: We’re afraid we will be defined by our worst decisions instead of our best. We can be monsters, we human beings, in the most offhand and cavalier ways. I wrecked my marriage, and he wrecked his—essentially for nothing. The only thing you know for sure is that you can’t go back the way you came. You must go forward, or sideways, or up, or down; anywhere except home again, because that’s not your home anymore. You are temporarily homeless. Losing love can turn you into a ghost in your own life. You go to all the same places, do the same things, but you’re not really there. You’re surrounded by friends and family, people with whom you intimately belong, but because your heart is broken, you listen to their laughter and conversation as if from a great distance. Time will refasten what’s come unmoored inside you.

  6. 4 out of 5

    Theresa

    Thank you, Netgalley and Random House for sending me a digital ARC, in exchange for an honest review. As a huge fan of Indie rock queen, Liz Phair - I knew I HAD to read her memoir, "Horror Stories" ASAP! This is an unusual but unique memoir of sorts. It's much more of a essay collection. In each chapter, Liz speaks candidly about an even or situation that left her traumatized in her personal life or recording career. "Three Bad Omens" is definitely a standout in this collection. Who knew Liz was Thank you, Netgalley and Random House for sending me a digital ARC, in exchange for an honest review. As a huge fan of Indie rock queen, Liz Phair - I knew I HAD to read her memoir, "Horror Stories" ASAP! This is an unusual but unique memoir of sorts. It's much more of a essay collection. In each chapter, Liz speaks candidly about an even or situation that left her traumatized in her personal life or recording career. "Three Bad Omens" is definitely a standout in this collection. Who knew Liz was a psychic!? My favorite chapter is "Labor of Love", in which she describes being in labor with her son, Nick for 30+ hours. Yikes! Liz is not ashamed of exposing her weaknesses when it comes to love either. In "The Devil Mistress", Liz openly discusses the toxic affair she had when she was married. In "She Lies" and "Below" - Liz becomes a bystander to frightening daily encounters that leave her rattled and uncomfortable. At the end of each chapter, Liz learns a valuable lesson from each failure and mistake, ones that were self-inflicted or out of her control. This is the kind of memoir you don't have to read in a specific order. Many of the stories are non-linear. Jumping from her University years, to her music career, to her childhood, and back again. Liz is unconventional, just like this memoir. I liked and understood the concept of this book, but with that being said, I still wish I got a bit more backstory, especially how it felt being a female musician in a male-dominated industry. I felt like something was missing. Liz is a great storyteller though. Just like she's a great songwriter. Her brutal honesty is what makes her special. I found her relatable. She has insecurities and inner-demons like the rest of us. I've been with her through her all her career highs and lows. I wish her all the best. I appreciate when an artist is unafraid to expose painful and shameful parts of their pasts. That's what makes us human after all. Life is Phair. Release date: October 8, 2019

  7. 5 out of 5

    Loretta Gaffney

    Did not finish. Put on Exile in Guyville instead.

  8. 5 out of 5

    Renata

    mmmmmm I mean I guess for starters I guess I should say I'm not a die-hard Liz Phair fan or anything, but I like some of her music and I've enjoyed reading some of her interviews etc so I figured I'd check out her memoir. But so, not being a HUGE Liz Phair fan some of this was definitely confusing? Each chapter is like a separate essay without really a coherent narrative, which is fine except they also went back and forth in time without clearly stating that would happen? And if I were a person mmmmmm I mean I guess for starters I guess I should say I'm not a die-hard Liz Phair fan or anything, but I like some of her music and I've enjoyed reading some of her interviews etc so I figured I'd check out her memoir. But so, not being a HUGE Liz Phair fan some of this was definitely confusing? Each chapter is like a separate essay without really a coherent narrative, which is fine except they also went back and forth in time without clearly stating that would happen? And if I were a person who knew the name of Liz's husband and boyfriends, or the full chronology of her albums, I think I could probably have kept track of time better that way, but...I didn't. So I'm not sure why the decision was made not to just put a year in the title or heading of each chapter? That would have been helpful. Or like, one of the essays is about how vulnerable a particular photo shoot made her feel and yet how great the resulting photos were, and yet despite the book including photos...it doesn't have any of those photos? I appreciated the emotional honesty here but ended up skimming some of the stories, particularly the ones about her messy love life vs about her career. IDK I know it's sort of common for folks to mention how Liz Phair comes from privilege etc etc like she isn't really an indie artist or whatever, and I think it's shitty to judge her for things like that, or for "selling out" when she began to make more commercial music, but at the same time mostly this felt very...unrelatable. Perhaps a bigger Liz Phair fan would get more out of this.

  9. 4 out of 5

    Bibliovoracious

    Perfectly crafted, vulnerable, vignettes about the sordid complexity of growing up female and becoming successful. At times hilarious, cringing, flawed, she is always fearless about telling an retouched truth.

  10. 5 out of 5

    Kusaimamekirai

    There were, during some rough high school years, a number of musicians that helped pull me through a lot of things. In the last year or so, there have been books about two of them. The first was Hanif Abdurraqib’s wonderful book about A Tribe Called Quest “Go Ahead in the Rain”. And now, Liz Phair’s memoir/essay collection/autobiography “Horror Stories”. Phair in particular is one of those artists that I played over and over again despite her music primarily being about men being horrible to her There were, during some rough high school years, a number of musicians that helped pull me through a lot of things. In the last year or so, there have been books about two of them. The first was Hanif Abdurraqib’s wonderful book about A Tribe Called Quest “Go Ahead in the Rain”. And now, Liz Phair’s memoir/essay collection/autobiography “Horror Stories”. Phair in particular is one of those artists that I played over and over again despite her music primarily being about men being horrible to her and female empowerment. These issues, while not relevant to a 16 year old boy wishing he had a girlfriend, somehow resonated with me. There was something daring, something strong in her words. A kind of “no matter how many times you fuck me over, I’m still standing” kind of lo-fi defiance that crosses lines of gender and sexuality. So, I was quite excited to get my hands on her book and learn more about her. For good and for bad, this I can say I definitely accomplished. First it should be said that this is not a story of her life per se. There is biographical information here but the overarching theme of the book is the horror of everyday cruelty. Or more accurately, how we handle (or don’t) it and how it imprints itself permanently on the rest of our lives. Each chapter presents a different incident from Phair’s life where an incident fundamentally changed her due to how she responded to it. We see where this is headed from the very first chapter when she flashes back to her University days at a party. There is a girl passed out on the bathroom floor, she has vomited and defecated on herself, she appears to be in genuine distress. While it would be easy in retrospect to omit such an incident in one’s book, or pretend that some effort was made to make sure this girl was at the very least still breathing, Phair does not. She doesn’t laugh or take pictures like the others, but she doesn’t try to stop them or help the girl either. She is afraid and her fear paralyzes her. It is something that has stuck with her to this day. A crystal clear memory that serves as a kind of punishment for her inaction on that day. It’s a startling opening to this book, and one that later chapters will find it difficult to live up to. There are several chapters where I simply lose patience with her. Her description of the Northeast blackout of 2003 where she is in NYC on the Upper West Side and her fear is one. I found it difficult to feel this fear however as she hangs out on the streets with people munching on free eclairs and gelato being handed out by trendy cafes while laughing and chatting with famous rock stars. It all felt, and I don’t like using this word but I will, privileged. This “privilege” will rear its ugly head in several other chapters as well where she describes riding in various limos, town cars, and being pampered in first class on an airplane: “I like feeling pampered and catered to and cosseted. I enjoy complaining about my problems to people I can see are impressed and envious. Hell, give me twenty years and I might turn into another hard-drinking dame at the country club, demanding that you make the same choices as me. It’s easier to believe in limitations than it is to take responsibility for your fate.” To her credit, she realizes what’s wrong with what she just wrote. Or does she? “But a small kernel of self-awareness has taken root in my brain, and I can’t pretend that it hasn’t. I know exactly what’s wrong with me, I just don’t want to do anything about it.” It reminded me of Jia Tolentino’s otherwise excellent essay collection “Trick Mirror” where she bemoans the monetized hyperbole of social media, recognizes she is part of the problem, but also acknowledges she isn’t going to stop. There is also a chapter on a visit to Shanghai that is downright cringeworthy from beginning to end. As first I tried to concede to myself that maybe I am sensitive about stereotypes, particularly about my region of the world. But no, this is just bad. When she first arrives in Shanghai, she is disappointed to see so many skyscrapers and the trappings of “modern” society. What did she expect in 21st century Shanghai?: “I was hoping to be influenced by a different set of values, to see how people incorporate the Taoist ethos of wu wei: living in naturalness, simplicity, and spontaneity. Now I’m worried that I’m merely naive. We pull up to a stoplight that looks exactly like what you’d find at any intersection in Los Angeles or Chicago, and I mourn the diversity of urban life everywhere.” Oh Liz…. She continues, this time on Chinese toilets: “The toilets my God, they have toilets in Shanghai that can do absolutely everything. They’re full service: a spray, a wash, a blow-dry. When I get to my room, I spend fifteen minutes pressing all the buttons on the commode, learning what rhythmic patterns and levels of intensity are optimal for me. I go to third base with a machine. It’s so Asian, so hentai.” “It’s so Asian”? Liz…Asia is a continent. Lots of different people and cultures here. The less said about the “hentai” stereotype, the better. Ugh. And this: "I’m just about to ask my driver where I can go to experience something uniquely Asian, when I catch my breath at the sight of a ghost. There he is, amid all this modernity: an old street sweeper patiently cleaning the road beneath the bridge with a broom made of twigs. He’s wearing communist-style work clothes, a pair of cropped navy-blue trousers and a matching smock. What he’s doing out here in the middle of the night I can’t imagine. It’s not like he’s going to make a dent in a contemporary city’s detritus. He must do it because he likes to. He looks bent and careworn but peaceful in his industrious activity. His slow, even strokes remind me of the rhythm I used to get into when I raked leaves in the fall as a teen." “Uniquely Asian”?? “He must do it because he likes to”?? Liz…again, Asia is a continent. Lots of different people and cultures here. Second, it’s his job. Maybe he does enjoy it. Who knows. More likely is he is sweeping the street because it needs to be done or it’s how he makes a living. Please don’t project your mystical fantasies about “oriental” cultures onto other people. Oh, she also hits an old woman on a scooter with her car door. She does seem to have a cursory concern for her physical welfare but mostly she writes about her fears of being jailed, not having money for any fines, or being lynched by a group of angry Chinese shouting at her. That privileged thing again… Ultimately the woman discusses it with Phair’s driver and translator and the woman settles on approximately $8 US in damages. Phair is elated. I’m a little disgusted by this whole chapter, am having trouble figuring out how this fits into he general theme of the book, and can’t wait for it to end. I almost stop here, that’s how troubled I was by this section. However I am glad I continued as she does get back on track in her chapter about being a female in a male dominated entertainment industry. The chapter begins with her discovering that her well known producer has become entangled in the #metoo movement. While Phair is unsurprised (he has acted inappropriately toward her on numerous occasions but never coerced or threatened her like he apparently did to a host of younger female artists) it makes her think about her experiences with men inside and outside the entertainment industry and leads to what is a terrifying list of her experiences: “I’ve had a president of a record label show me pornographic picture books in his office and instruct me to show him which positions I liked. I’ve been told by a president of a different record label to let radio programmers feel me up a little, because it would be good for my career. I was offered a stipend of five thousand dollars a month by yet another record-label president to be his live-in mistress. I told him my monthly expenditures were twice that much, and would he kindly fuck off. I’ve had my body discussed openly in a meeting at one of these labels, and compared to other female artists bodies in intimate detail, my various parts rated in front of my A&R representative, my producer, and my boyfriend. I’ve been screamed at, threatened with homelessness, and warned that I’d never work again if I didn’t go along with a sexy, seminude photo shoot. I’ve taken casting meetings with famous movie directors who spent the whole time asking me what kind of sex I liked, what positions I was good at, and what physical type I preferred in a partner. I’ve had my manager arrange business meetings with entertainment attorneys, producers, and music supervisors, only to have them try to force their tongues into my mouth. Note to potential employers: I don’t take casual meetings anymore, as a rule. Either give me the job or don’t, but I will never meet you for drinks or dinner to ‘discuss an opportunity.’ I’ve had boyfriends get so jealous they’ve punched walls, doors, and even a car windshield once. I almost never date anymore. I’ve had male fans follow me around airports, doggedly pursuing me, telling me why they’d be my perfect boyfriend. My tour manager didn’t believe me until one guy showed up four times in various parts of the terminal. We couldn’t shake him, no matter how far or fast we ran. I was desperate, because even some women don’t validate your experiences until they see it with their own eyes. ‘Oh, I’m sure he didn’t mean it.’ ‘Oh, I’m sure he’s gone now.’ Wrong. Married men at parties, mentally ill men outside of shows, crazy-eyed drunk guys on airplanes, dudes who think we shared a moment of connection and who don’t want to take no for an answer. Where does my list start, and where does it end? Where does your list start? Your sister’s list, your mom’s, your best friend’s? Where does it end? ‘Women Have Problems Handling Men’ is not exactly an earth-shattering headline. Sometimes it feels like the problem is so big that we’ll never find our way past it. At other times, a safer world for women seems like it’s waiting just around the corner.” Why does Phair share these intensely personal stories? I think it’s for her own healing as much as it is ours as a reader. To remind each other that no matter what we are going through, rich or not, male or female, young or old, we all are struggling to get through the days sometimes. When one becomes aware of it, it can seem less oppressive and somehow simply easier to breathe. As Phair writes: “In the end, we’re all going through the same shit, trying to make it through the day with our own private struggles. The stranger next to you is so much more like you than you think.”

  11. 4 out of 5

    Sarah

    This book is definitely not what I was expecting, I gather other readers felt the same. It’s not an autobiography, it’s more like essays that encapsulate snapshots from her life. In one way, I wish I hadn’t read it, because frankly I liked her a whole lot better from her music than I do after reading Horror Stories. She’s a decent writer, but I think she lacks some self awareness, or maybe some basic compassion. I like the idea that she’s not trying to make readers like her; but at the same time This book is definitely not what I was expecting, I gather other readers felt the same. It’s not an autobiography, it’s more like essays that encapsulate snapshots from her life. In one way, I wish I hadn’t read it, because frankly I liked her a whole lot better from her music than I do after reading Horror Stories. She’s a decent writer, but I think she lacks some self awareness, or maybe some basic compassion. I like the idea that she’s not trying to make readers like her; but at the same time....I don’t like her. I don’t think I’m holding a woman to a standard of ‘likability’ here, honestly if this were written by a man I probably would have stopped reading it. If you’re interested in her as a musician, there’s not a lot of content here about that part of her life. It is interesting that she (or someone) chose these pieces to publish. There are multiple stories where she just seems like a callow and totally unsympathetic person. A story about a robbery at Oberlin college, where she seems affronted that she has to grapple with her own class privilege and the spectre of racism; a story where she stalks a Trader Joe’s cashier (this one is just baffling); and finally a story about aging where she seems to find elderly women to be the saddest things in the world; but manages to prop up an elderly man’s ego by flirting with him at an event. Depressing. What did I I like? I guess I liked that she doesn’t seem to give a shit what people think? The piece about #metoo was interesting, and it took me a while to realize she was talking about Ryan Adams and I like that she never named him. I liked that she showed her life being messy and imperfect. I just wish the person I read about here squared more with the artist I’ve loved for 20 years or more. That person is funny, smart, sensitive, and can make you cry with a rock song which I really love. I guess the point is that she’s all these people, just like everyone comes across as a prism of a larger whole and sometimes it’s weird to see all the angles of them differently. But I might not listen to her again for a while. Having said all that; seeing her play in Toronto last year was a highlight for me; she’s amazing live and she’s a great artist.

  12. 4 out of 5

    Jillian

    I received a copy of this from Netgalley in exchange for an honest review. I was thinking this would be a memoir and give me info on Liz’s upbringing and her music career. Instead it was a series of essays about different topic. I got so bored with this! Some of the topics she just went on and on and I started skimming. It had some extremely long descriptions of boring every day things. There were a few interesting tidbits in there, but a lot of filler.

  13. 4 out of 5

    britt_brooke

    I disliked this in the same way I disliked Maggie O’Farrell’s I AM, I AM, I AM. Those were not all brushes with death and these are not all horror stories. Literary gimmicks annoy the hell out of me, especially in memoir. Massive Liz Phair fans will probably like this, but even though the writing is decent, the stories are tedious. PUB DATE: 10.8.19 Thank you, NetGalley, for the opportunity to read this in exchange for an honest review!

  14. 5 out of 5

    Kasia

    I've got an ARC and it was missing two chapters so my opinion is formed based on an incomplete book. I've received my copy just two weeks ago (09.07) and the publication date is set to 10.08 so I would recommend checking if all the chapters in the book are present before buying it (missing chapters numers: #13 and #14). I have never heard about Liz Phair before receiving this book so I have no emotional connection with the author or her music. After finishing reading it I was stunned and kept wo I've got an ARC and it was missing two chapters so my opinion is formed based on an incomplete book. I've received my copy just two weeks ago (09.07) and the publication date is set to 10.08 so I would recommend checking if all the chapters in the book are present before buying it (missing chapters numers: #13 and #14). I have never heard about Liz Phair before receiving this book so I have no emotional connection with the author or her music. After finishing reading it I was stunned and kept wondering about why people that have nothing to say and no skill to gracefully pour their thoughts on the paper are feeling compelled to write their memoir? First couple chapters are so chaotic that it seems even author has problems on gripping on the main thought. This is also where you start to see how selfish, self-assured and convinced about her importance the author is. Constant bragging about how the guys keep trying to hook up with her, how "artsy" she is, how she is always traveling in the first class, how the world revolve around her made me dislike her on the spot. The moment where she describes how the guy she was flirting with committed a suicide but the next guy that came was even more handsome so nothing really happened made me sick. You rarely see such heartlessness. Somewhere in the middle there are couple of stories that are barely OK. There is nothing particular about them, they are not interesting, but, at least, they are not annoying. Then there is also the case of the ex-boyfriend named Rory that caused a lot of psychological damage to the author. He is showing up in the few stories and all the pieces about him felt like they were written for a therapeutic session because they are lacking any context and the background is only shortly described. I'm really glad that I didn't spend 28$ on this book. Now I'm only regretting my wasted time.

  15. 5 out of 5

    Dorie

    Horror Stories:A Memoir by Liz Phair due 10-8-2019 Random House 4.5/5.0 Thanks to Goodreads and the publisher for sending this ARC for review. This is a brilliantly written and completely honest, intimate and endearing memoir. It is refreshing to read a memoir that is more than just facts; one that also shares the personal feelings; personal stories and moments; the courage and despair; the pain and reality that distinguish each of us and make us who we are. Phairs premise was to remind us horro Horror Stories:A Memoir by Liz Phair due 10-8-2019 Random House 4.5/5.0 Thanks to Goodreads and the publisher for sending this ARC for review. This is a brilliantly written and completely honest, intimate and endearing memoir. It is refreshing to read a memoir that is more than just facts; one that also shares the personal feelings; personal stories and moments; the courage and despair; the pain and reality that distinguish each of us and make us who we are. Phairs premise was to remind us horror is more than just a scary movie. Its scary actions, based on perception, for horrible reasons. She successfully does this in each of the 18 stories here. They each reminds us how essential personal accountability and our personal pro-activeness really is. Each story holds meaning beyond the words on the page, they will resonate with the reader, and help us to face the truths within all of us. With charisma and wit, Phair faces the complexities and ideologies of her life, and gives us an honest and meaningful work. Stories of being a passive bystander to a girl passed out in a public restroom; meeting an old friend on an airplane and their trek through the airport; a story of her grandparents; of being stuck in the blizzard of 2010 in NYC and a story of accidentally being hit by a flying meat tenderizing mallet, and many more stories, remind me that it is the moments that we share and experience that make our lives, as much as it is the facts. The ARC does not show the art work between each story, it is just an empty page with ¨art¨ written on it, but I am hoping they some of Liz Phairs art.

  16. 5 out of 5

    Rikki King

    This book started out well, and then quickly devolved into a mess. The "theme" is inconsistent and some of the stories felt like high school creative writing assignments. The takeaways were often forced and awkward. Liz Phair clearly comes from an incredible amount of privilege, but goes to great pains to try and refute this. She's pretty actively UNfeminist in a lot of her thinking. There's a cringe-inducing story that tackles race and aggressively misses any point except trying to paint hersel This book started out well, and then quickly devolved into a mess. The "theme" is inconsistent and some of the stories felt like high school creative writing assignments. The takeaways were often forced and awkward. Liz Phair clearly comes from an incredible amount of privilege, but goes to great pains to try and refute this. She's pretty actively UNfeminist in a lot of her thinking. There's a cringe-inducing story that tackles race and aggressively misses any point except trying to paint herself as a good white liberal (spoiler: it fails). The only reason I'm giving this 2 stars is because there were 3 or 4 well-written stories (out of 20, iirc).

  17. 5 out of 5

    Jennifer

    I received this ARC via Netgalley. This wasn’t quite what I was expecting- I was anticipating a straightforward memoir but it was instead it was series of essays. Not in chronological order, but arranged very nicely. Some essays were stronger than others but I found Phair to be a more self aware writer than her contemporaries (cough Ani DiFranco cough).

  18. 5 out of 5

    Michael

    I recieved a digital copy free from the publisher via Netgalley in exchange for an honest review. This book was a huge disappointment. I came in expecting stories about Liz's music, the industry, and how she grew up and matured. Unfortunately its a collection of stories about things that were terrible moments that stuck with her that never really click. Reading through the book, you understand where the moments latched on, but there isn't much connection. The first chapter is probably the one I c I recieved a digital copy free from the publisher via Netgalley in exchange for an honest review. This book was a huge disappointment. I came in expecting stories about Liz's music, the industry, and how she grew up and matured. Unfortunately its a collection of stories about things that were terrible moments that stuck with her that never really click. Reading through the book, you understand where the moments latched on, but there isn't much connection. The first chapter is probably the one I connected with the most, as the regrets are easy to relate to. As the book progressed I felt like it wavered and veered off in to less interesting material. While the stories are obviously personal, it just doesn't make for great reading. At some points I had to fight off skipping ahead in chunks. As someone who has been listening to Liz since high school in the early to mid 90s, this just let me down. There was so much potential considering how relatable her music had always been, yet this book just fell super flat. I can't recommend this at all.

  19. 5 out of 5

    Liz

    Liz Phair!!! I was so there for this book. I bought it the day it came out, and I will probably do the same for the sequel. I read this in a non-linear way—skimmed it first, then read the chapters that most interested me, then went back and read the rest. Selfishly, I wish there was more in here about celebrity/rock star life, or Liz Phair talking about her artistic process. Maybe there will be in the sequel? Anyway, Liz Phair can write like a motherfucker, and I liked how this wasn't your typical Liz Phair!!! I was so there for this book. I bought it the day it came out, and I will probably do the same for the sequel. I read this in a non-linear way—skimmed it first, then read the chapters that most interested me, then went back and read the rest. Selfishly, I wish there was more in here about celebrity/rock star life, or Liz Phair talking about her artistic process. Maybe there will be in the sequel? Anyway, Liz Phair can write like a motherfucker, and I liked how this wasn't your typical celebrity memoir.

  20. 5 out of 5

    Sarah

    i adored this

  21. 4 out of 5

    Melissa

    I’m kind of a big Liz Phair fan. I seriously love her first two records and the Girlysound tapes and there are even a couple songs off her third album that I like. One time I talked to her after a concert she was co-headlining with the awful Jason Mraz—I went to her bus while he played—and my partner at the time, whose Liz Phair fandom ran even deeper than my own, asked her if she’d please play the guitar on her next record and she promised she would. But he and I were both disappointed, of cour I’m kind of a big Liz Phair fan. I seriously love her first two records and the Girlysound tapes and there are even a couple songs off her third album that I like. One time I talked to her after a concert she was co-headlining with the awful Jason Mraz—I went to her bus while he played—and my partner at the time, whose Liz Phair fandom ran even deeper than my own, asked her if she’d please play the guitar on her next record and she promised she would. But he and I were both disappointed, of course. The fact is, the old Liz Phair will never come back. She can’t. That Liz was born out of Guyville, and a desperate need to escape it. She didn’t know how to play the guitar the “right” way back then, so her chords were weird and difficult to imitate, stylistically, if you know how to play guitar correctly (though that has not stopped my ex, who I am still friends with, from trying in his own songwriting). She wasn’t a trained singer and her singing was super low and weird and often fucking amazing in its way, IMO. Now she knows how to play the guitar correctly and she uses boring normal chords and she sings the right way and I have zero hope she’ll make another good record ever again. But she did write a good book. And if there’s one thing I love as much as I love music, it’s books. This book jumps around, telling random stories about her life at different times, and the stories are Exile In Guyville-level honest. They’re often deep, always thoughtful, never shying away from her own flaws. I’d read anything Liz Phair wrote at this point. I wish she’d become a novelist or an essayist instead of a musician. I honestly can’t believe that making music can be all that profitable for her, but what do I know? Is Liz a bit bratty? Yeah, she is, and that’s okay by me. She is who she is. She’s been pretty honest about herself since the beginning, explaining that it’s nice to be liked but it’s better by far to get paid. She’s always admitted that “doing it backwards” is just fine with her because that way she can fuck and watch TV. So I dunno, don’t expect her to be 100% heartwarming and/or sentimental. That’s an absurd expectation for her. She’s not always likable, but she is an envelope-pusher, a deeply flawed person with a huge heart, and a seeker of meaningful relationships. You don’t have to like her, but don’t saddle her with misplaced expectations.

  22. 5 out of 5

    Sarah

    There was no way for me to read this book without bias because Liz Phair is a goddess who walks on the clouds. BUT I had some healthy skepticism and delayed reading for some time; I was scared it would be bad and I would be disappointed. Friends-- this book is very good. She writes stories/essays like she writes songs, and I enjoyed reading as much as I enjoy listening to Exile in Guyville on nonstop repeat. (I had 'Divorce Song' on a loop in my brain every time I picked up the book.) She is an There was no way for me to read this book without bias because Liz Phair is a goddess who walks on the clouds. BUT I had some healthy skepticism and delayed reading for some time; I was scared it would be bad and I would be disappointed. Friends-- this book is very good. She writes stories/essays like she writes songs, and I enjoyed reading as much as I enjoy listening to Exile in Guyville on nonstop repeat. (I had 'Divorce Song' on a loop in my brain every time I picked up the book.) She is an actual human! Vulnerable, shy, empathetic, witty. She has crushes and failures and tantrums. I just can't say enough how much I like this book. Her near-perfection lives on.

  23. 4 out of 5

    June

    The stories in this book are often uncomfortable or unsettling to read--recollections of times the author failed to act in the way she would have wished she had, in retrospect. And as deeply personal as that is, it's something that many of us can connect with--things we still look back on and beat ourselves up over, even years later. If we, like Phair, had a major-market book deal, a chance to write the things we would want our families or fans to know, would we tell the truth as unflinchingly a The stories in this book are often uncomfortable or unsettling to read--recollections of times the author failed to act in the way she would have wished she had, in retrospect. And as deeply personal as that is, it's something that many of us can connect with--things we still look back on and beat ourselves up over, even years later. If we, like Phair, had a major-market book deal, a chance to write the things we would want our families or fans to know, would we tell the truth as unflinchingly as she does? There are several of the stories I won't soon forget, and I hope I remember not only the horror of the situation but also the lesson Phair wants us to remember, that "our flaws and our failures make us relatable, not unlovable." Thanks to the publishers and NetGalley for a digital ARC.

  24. 5 out of 5

    Jade Lopert

    Liz Phair is a spoiled brat. That is what I learned from this memoir. Entertaining enough for all that. In the sea of lyrical, soul baring memoirs that exist post Just Kids though this feels very superficial.

  25. 4 out of 5

    Joel

    I received my copy of Horror Stories via Goodreads giveaway, which has no effect on my review. I would, however, like to take a moment to thank Random House, who graciously (and speedily) replaced my lost-in-transit copy when notified that it never reached its intended destination. Despite the title, Horror Stories isn't a collection of macabre novellas. It serves as a memoir to Grammy-nominated singer-songwriter Liz Phair. The title comes from Phair's belief that there can be uncomfortable momen I received my copy of Horror Stories via Goodreads giveaway, which has no effect on my review. I would, however, like to take a moment to thank Random House, who graciously (and speedily) replaced my lost-in-transit copy when notified that it never reached its intended destination. Despite the title, Horror Stories isn't a collection of macabre novellas. It serves as a memoir to Grammy-nominated singer-songwriter Liz Phair. The title comes from Phair's belief that there can be uncomfortable moments in life that guide us into being the person we truly are, and this book collects eighteen (though this ARC was missing a couple) of the touchstone moments from her own life. I've long been a fan of Phair's, and some of these vignettes are as hard-hitting as any of her in-your-face, tell-it-like-it-is lyrics. But there are others that feel like she's reaching a bit, perhaps adding descriptive bits to memory to make it seem. And that leaves certain chapters feeling more manufactured than any of her pop-leaning songs. Just as songs on an album aren't necessarily presented in chronological order of when they were written or recorded, neither are the chapters in chronological order. I think it would perhaps have felt more like a memoir had the chapters followed a more linear approach. As it is, these feel like interconnected scenes or stories told in a manner not unlike that of a Tarantino film. If you are able to view the chapter presentation as similar to songs on an album, I think you will enjoy the book more. If you are looking for a linear voyage of Phair's trek toward success, this isn't it. But it does provide the touchstones that she has deemed important to share: many of them dealing with her failures rather than successes. Long-time fans should enjoy this look into the inner thoughts of this under-appreciated artist.

  26. 5 out of 5

    Pickle Farmer

    This was great! Really enjoyed listening to it and was genuinely sad when I finished. Will I get back on the audiobook train now...? I've seriously been trying to make my way through the Springsteen memoir for a YEAR (ironically, I keep talking about it to people - it's really good! I just got stalled in the 89-99 era, like Springsteen himself). Anyway, back to Liz: THIS was a great idea for a rock memoir. It's told via anecdotes and vignettes that represent some kind of 'horror' in her life, ra This was great! Really enjoyed listening to it and was genuinely sad when I finished. Will I get back on the audiobook train now...? I've seriously been trying to make my way through the Springsteen memoir for a YEAR (ironically, I keep talking about it to people - it's really good! I just got stalled in the 89-99 era, like Springsteen himself). Anyway, back to Liz: THIS was a great idea for a rock memoir. It's told via anecdotes and vignettes that represent some kind of 'horror' in her life, ranging from trying to sing over a pre-recorded track to 'Walking in a Winter Wonderland' and failing, to getting lost in an apocalyptic snowstorm in NYC, to a wide range of shitty men stories (loved the Ryan Adams chapter, boy do I love me some tea!!). All in all definitely one of the better celebrity/rock memoirs that I've read/listened to. Very entertaining and funny with a genuinely engaging voice. Go Liz! You're awesome!

  27. 5 out of 5

    Betsy

    I appreciate that you can almost hear Liz Phair's voice in this read. It was clear she wrote it, making this book feel like she's speaking to just you. Although there are times that her described anxiety-filled experiences also filled me with anxiety ("Horror Stories", I get it), I appreciate her honesty and openness to share those feelings and experiences. My favorite chapters include her dream-like and poetic recollections of early childhood in Cincinnati, OH. I only wish Liz had shared much m I appreciate that you can almost hear Liz Phair's voice in this read. It was clear she wrote it, making this book feel like she's speaking to just you. Although there are times that her described anxiety-filled experiences also filled me with anxiety ("Horror Stories", I get it), I appreciate her honesty and openness to share those feelings and experiences. My favorite chapters include her dream-like and poetic recollections of early childhood in Cincinnati, OH. I only wish Liz had shared much more about her process as an artist and creative person and also her motivation and inspiration to create music. Music feels like scenery in this book. Maybe next time.

  28. 4 out of 5

    Athena

    **I won this book through Goodreads First Reads** 3 stars because I was missing two chapters, 13 and 14 and because this was not a traditional memoir. I enjoyed reading these stories as they were incredibly personal and meaningful to Phair, but I wanted something more than random stories despite that fact. I hope there will be an autobiography in the future.

  29. 5 out of 5

    Nate Hawthorne

    Definitely a memoir and not an auto biography. It doesn't follow a direct narrative, just disjointed memories for each chapter. I was disappointed there wasn't much about her artistic process. It was interesting, but not too revealing, even though I don't feel like she held anything back.

  30. 5 out of 5

    Cassandra Gillig

    damn this is like if someone polled me to see what i would most want to read liz phair's thoughts on & then she did the opposite. i cannot remember the last time i read a book this bad (read: ruthlessly boring, unimportant, tedious) & im a huge liz phair apologist i love white chocolate space egg, even feel like the self-titled album is her realizin some pop genius & figurin out some things. anyway im no longer reading anything written after 1500 to avoid any metoo or protometoo hot takes if it damn this is like if someone polled me to see what i would most want to read liz phair's thoughts on & then she did the opposite. i cannot remember the last time i read a book this bad (read: ruthlessly boring, unimportant, tedious) & im a huge liz phair apologist i love white chocolate space egg, even feel like the self-titled album is her realizin some pop genius & figurin out some things. anyway im no longer reading anything written after 1500 to avoid any metoo or protometoo hot takes if it dont have a hunk in a hairshirt i dont wanna read it these are my thoughts...love cassandra

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