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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 and were determined not to see her 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 and were determined not to see her 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

  1. 4 out of 5

    Nenia ☠️ Hecka Wicked ☠️ 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 the experience. I was expecting HORROR STORIES to be all abPinterestThis 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: the way w 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. 5 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 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

  5. 4 out of 5

    Ren

    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. 5 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.

  7. 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!

  8. 5 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 s 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.

  9. 4 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).

  10. 4 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.

  11. 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 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.

  12. 4 out of 5

    Rikki

    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).

  13. 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 uncomfo 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.

  14. 5 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.

  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 rem 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

    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.

  17. 5 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.

  18. 5 out of 5

    Lauren

    Fans of Liz Phair, be warned: If you're expecting a wild rock n' roll memoir, you won't find it in this book. But, don't let that deter you from picking up this beautifully written book, a collection of Phair's memories and stories cobbled together in a quiet, pensive collection that seems antithetical to her riotgrrrl, "Fuck and Run" musical persona. She talks about a particularly emotional, cathartic photoshoot that became one of her most well-known spreads to-date; she reminisces on spending Fans of Liz Phair, be warned: If you're expecting a wild rock n' roll memoir, you won't find it in this book. But, don't let that deter you from picking up this beautifully written book, a collection of Phair's memories and stories cobbled together in a quiet, pensive collection that seems antithetical to her riotgrrrl, "Fuck and Run" musical persona. She talks about a particularly emotional, cathartic photoshoot that became one of her most well-known spreads to-date; she reminisces on spending falls in her grandparents' house outside of Cincinnati and the discovery that the house was once an abolitionist safe house during the Underground Railroad. She remembers fleeting interactions with women from her adolescence who she still thinks about to this day, a young woman passed out in a nightclub bathroom who nobody, not even herself, bothered to help; a melancholy teenager about to get major surgery before the summer of her sixteenth year, who beseechingly asks, "Do you think I'm beautiful?" If you love Liz Phair's music, you likely appreciate her sharp, beautiful lyrics; she shows that her prose is just as striking. This book is sometimes crass, sometimes funny, but always poignant. The stories in each chapter are pithy but effective. Each one stirred some new emotion in me and gave me a better sense of Phair as a whole person, not just a rockstar. Again, this isn't your typical music memoir - it's a much more powerful yet understated memoir style that more musicians and artists should consider. Thank you to Netgalley and Random House for providing an ARC.

  19. 4 out of 5

    Rose

    I expected this to be more of a memoir about the author's life, but found a collection of essays instead. They were okay, but some were tedious to get through. I'm just disappointed it wasn't more of a memoir. I would like to thank Netgalley and the publisher for providing me with a copy free of charge. This is my honest and unbiased opinion of it.

  20. 4 out of 5

    Josh Luft

    I'm a Liz Phair fan. Her first three albums (Exile in Guyville, Whip-Smart, and whitechocolatespaceegg) are great. (I'm indifferent to the following three albums. She tried making pop music and it didn't really work because the simplification of the genre diminished her strengths. Many abhor those albums. Some felt betrayed, which, while extreme, is understandable considering the strength of the connection fans can make with an artist—or, more accurately, their perception of an artist. The more insidious part of that abhorrence is the misogyny(Exile I'm a Liz Phair fan. Her first three albums (Exile in Guyville, Whip-Smart, and whitechocolatespaceegg) are great. (I'm indifferent to the following three albums. She tried making pop music and it didn't really work because the simplification of the genre diminished her strengths. Many abhor those albums. Some felt betrayed, which, while extreme, is understandable considering the strength of the connection fans can make with an artist—or, more accurately, their perception of an artist. The more insidious part of that abhorrence is the misogyny that's plagued Phair since the beginning. It was often cloaked in words like "overrated" or "unskilled" and these albums offered validation.) Why I love her music is, in large part, because of the empathy, honesty, humor, insightfulness, and poignancy of her lyrics. She's blunt and fearless about things like desire, heartache, and jealousy. Her influence on indie rock and singer/songwriters, especially women, is undeniable. So what's so frustrating and disappointing about her memoir Horror Stories is how often it lacks the things that make her music so great. While chapters like "Labor of Love," "New York City Blackout," and "Hashtag" display her skills in prose form, the majority of the others do not. Take the fifth chapter, "Three Bad Omens." Phair is recently out of college and driving to meet up with a friend. While on a strip of freeway under construction, so close to a barrier she could reach out and touch it, she wonders "why nobody ever gets into a car crash traveling in the left lane." Moments later, in the opposite direction, a car crashes (Omen 1). She says, "I realize I may have just witnessed someone's final moments." It's an eerie, harrowing experience. However, when she reaches her friend's place, there's no more empathy or thought about the car crash victim. She gets "miffed" that her friend won't believe she's psychic, which leads to a bloody act to prove her ability (Omen 2). The final omen is a scare during a plane landing. Here she gets upset because the scare doesn't have to do with the proximity of a nuclear power plant, her augury of a meltdown. It's not the experiences themselves that are the problem. it's that she provides no origin for these feelings or examination of their self-involved nature. And then it ends with how her friendship with this guy dissolved after her visit, so the entire point of the story is confusing. There's nothing insightful about it. While that example has a slighter premise, other chapters, one's featuring weightier themes like infidelity and race, also suffer from a lack of depth. And, again, what's so frustrating is that she's successful in other chapters. This is not an issue of someone who writes well in one medium not being able to do so in another. It's about her holding back—like with her brother—or being clouded by privilege, or not fully examining situations. And for a memoir, you can't do those things. Phair has a new album arriving in spring 2020. The first single, "Good Side," which reunites her with Brad Wood, who she worked with on her first three albums, is really good. In her next book (she has a two-book deal with Random House), I hope she can rectify the missteps of Horror Stories like she seems to be doing with her music.

  21. 5 out of 5

    The Lit Bitch

    I don’t read a ton of non fiction, especially memoirs. It’s just not a genre that really appeals to me, but on occasion reading biographies or memoirs about Princess Diana, Kate Middleton, or other famous modern women cross my mind frequently. But as I said, it’s usually a genre that I pass on—though I rarely get pitched a memoir, I almost always skip it. However, I have a mega girl crush on Liz Phair and when I was pitched this book, I may or may not have fan girled hard. I don’t read a ton of non fiction, especially memoirs. It’s just not a genre that really appeals to me, but on occasion reading biographies or memoirs about Princess Diana, Kate Middleton, or other famous modern women cross my mind frequently. But as I said, it’s usually a genre that I pass on—though I rarely get pitched a memoir, I almost always skip it. However, I have a mega girl crush on Liz Phair and when I was pitched this book, I may or may not have fan girled hard. Her music was the soundtrack of my youth/high school years and when I saw this book was coming out, I had no choice but to move things around in my schedule to fit it in! One of the things that stands out to me when I think of Liz Phair, is how personal her musical lyrics are and how many of her songs have a story telling vibe. So I was exceptionally eager to see how that quality translated to an actual book rather than a song. So let me say this—this was not a traditional memoir. It wasn’t a linear book that had a clearly defined beginning, middle, and end but rather a collection of essays about various topics and issues. At first this was really disconcerting, but in a way it reminded me of a music album with each essay reading almost like a musical track, if that makes sense. This isn’t a book about her life and the music industry but rather things that she experienced and stuck out to her on her journey. It was a little jarring for someone expecting a traditional memoir, but like Phair herself, it’s unconventional and for me—it worked. Had it been written in this way by someone else, I don’t know that it would have worked in the same way and truth be told, I know there were other reviewers who didn’t like this style of memoir. This wasn’t the format I was expecting but I enjoyed many of the stories due to their candor which is what Phair is widely known for in her songs. I loved that while some of the stories were depressing in content, I never felt like she was entering into self pity mode. She is incredibly talented at putting words to feelings, perhaps because she writes music, but I really felt as though she could articulate her thoughts and feelings exceptionally well. While this wasn’t the memoir I was expecting, I was thrilled to have read it and loved that it was uplifting even if some of the stories were in fact horror stories. This was an unconventional read as unconventional as the author herself. I throughly enjoyed it! See my full review here

  22. 5 out of 5

    Tera Slawson

    I received this book free from the publisher through Netgalley. In exchange, I was asked to write an honest review and post it. My thanks to them both. Why I chose this book: Honestly I only really knew one Liz Phair song when I requested this book from Netgalley, and it’s one of her poppier songs. But being a teen in the 90’s she was an alternative Icon and everywhere. I don’t know why I never really heard much of her music. Maybe she didn’t get much MTV play, back when they actually I received this book free from the publisher through Netgalley. In exchange, I was asked to write an honest review and post it. My thanks to them both. Why I chose this book: Honestly I only really knew one Liz Phair song when I requested this book from Netgalley, and it’s one of her poppier songs. But being a teen in the 90’s she was an alternative Icon and everywhere. I don’t know why I never really heard much of her music. Maybe she didn’t get much MTV play, back when they actually played videos, and not much radio play? They say whatever decade you are a teen in is the one your will follow the rest of your life, I love the 90’s so was interested in reading about Liz Phair. What was the book about: The story of a woman that becomes a rockstar, but still has to deal with all the stuff every other woman has to go through. She tells you the ugly parts and I found her honest and brave. What was good: I loved how she wrote this autobiography, she didn’t do what most do and write a linear story of their life. She told her story by telling stories about her life, mostly horror stories about her life. I always judge an autobiography by if I find their story believable, and this time I think she really did. She didn’t tell you the pretty parts, but some of the hardest and ugliest. She works the details about her growing up, family, loves and loses all by telling you stories of what happened to her. It’s really great What was bad: I didn’t love the last chapter. But I couldn’t write well about what that was about either. Final Thoughts: I am now following the “This is Liz Phair” playlist on Spotify. Better late than never to the party, I guess. I really enjoyed this book, and I really related to her. Every woman has insecurities, money worries, broken hearts and regrets, even cool alternative rock goddesses! And I appreciate her laying her soul bare in these stories. Horror Stories was released on October 8th, 2019

  23. 4 out of 5

    B.

    I received this ARC in a Goodreads Giveaway. As many people have said, this book is not about the music. I cannot reiterate this strongly enough. This book has several issues and there were several issues that I had with the book on top of that. 1. I know this is an ARC, but if it's really coming out at the beginning of October, shouldn't all the chapters be present already, instead of just "Text TK" mentioned under the chapter headings? That's not enough time for editing, typesetting, formattin I received this ARC in a Goodreads Giveaway. As many people have said, this book is not about the music. I cannot reiterate this strongly enough. This book has several issues and there were several issues that I had with the book on top of that. 1. I know this is an ARC, but if it's really coming out at the beginning of October, shouldn't all the chapters be present already, instead of just "Text TK" mentioned under the chapter headings? That's not enough time for editing, typesetting, formatting, etc. Also, who uses TK in place of "to come" I get doing that for art work as a placeholder, but two entire chapters aren't present. 2. This woman has a serious obsession with coming up for euphemisms for her vagina - after the fourth or fifth one, it just started getting awkward. 3. The lack of an ordered timeline irked me - it made for very disjointed reading. 4. Some of the vignettes included were interesting, but for the most part, it was a lot of filler and I kept thinking, "well, that's great for you, but so what?" There's no real point to the book. I'm sure it was cathartic for her, but it's not really got a lot of value for the general reader. 5. For all her efforts to spout a feminist agenda, she's very patriarchal in her approach to life and her outlook on life. Ultimately, this book was a lot like her music. There are some great individual lines, but overall, it's pretty forgettable. It gets two stars instead of 1 because of the line "I plant my wishes, and I bury my sins." I liked that line in the book - great imagery.

  24. 4 out of 5

    Mike

    Although Liz Phair is a rock star, her memoir never really delves into her tours, music, or songwriting. Instead, what she has written is a collection of surprisingly candid stories detailing moments in her life when she made the wrong choices, humbly looking back to share how these mistakes have made her a stronger and more empathetic person. Sometimes you read a book at just the right time in your life and it is absolutely heartbreakingly perfect. Needless to say, I loved this book. .

  25. 5 out of 5

    John

    I received a free e-galley from netgalley.com. Not exactly what I was I expecting. This was a well thought out series of short stories. We learn a little bit more about Liz Phair. We also learn a little bit more about the horrors in our own lives that we take or granted as just being there. Horrors that take a part in shaping who we are and where we go in life. So even though she writes some great music, I learned that LIz Phair is a good writter as well.

  26. 4 out of 5

    Jim Cooper

    When I heard that Liz Phair was writing a book, I was kind of hoping for the behind-the-scenes stories from her career, which I have always been fascinated by. Instead, this is a series of stories that bounce back and forth in time throughout her life. Phair is an excellent storyteller, as you would imagine. Really enjoyed it. She signed a two-book deal, so hopefully we will still get the career memoir, but I would be happy with another book like this.

  27. 4 out of 5

    Carey

    If you only read a part of this book read chapter 14 titled Hashtag. Women should read it to know you’re not alone & men should read it to understand what behaviors they think are not a big deal really are. When I started reading this book I was a little turned off by how bougie it was because I was expecting a rough around the edges rock n roll detailed life. But Phair does a good job of showing her real side as opposed to her stage side and keeps its interesting.

  28. 4 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.

  29. 5 out of 5

    Jason Bovberg

    Horror Stories is a very pleasant surprise, an immersive, intimate, eminently readable pathway toward understanding a controversial celebrity, a book that demonstrates more than anything that Phair is a thoughtful, complex, fascinating human being. Highly recommended for its fearlessness and honesty.

  30. 4 out of 5

    Ric

    Very unconventional narrative for an autobiography; no linear structure here, instead she focuses on experiences throughout her life that have resonated and remained with her. Unflinchingly honest, even when she does not come off looking good, but the stories are so relatable and human that they resonate with the reader as well.

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