No Walls and the Recurring Dream: A Memoir

No Walls and the Recurring Dream: A Memoir

A memoir by the celebrated singer-songwriter and social activist Ani DiFrancoIn her new memoir, No Walls and the Recurring Dream, Ani DiFranco recounts her early life from a place of hard-won wisdom, combining personal expression, the power of music, feminism, political activism, storytelling, philanthropy, entrepreneurship, and much more into an inspiring whole. In these...

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Title:No Walls and the Recurring Dream: A Memoir
Author:Ani DiFranco
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No Walls and the Recurring Dream: A Memoir Reviews

  • Kat

    If you know Ani DiFranco and expected her memoir to be anything less than a beautiful mess of rambling tangents, poetic prose, strongly worded sermons of staunchly held political beliefs, whimsical idolization of folk heroes, lengthy philosophical lectures, occasional easter egg references to specific beloved lyrics from her discography, deeply personal and often painful confessions & memories all while not indulging an inch past what she cared to share, then you don’t know Ani DiFranco at a

    If you know Ani DiFranco and expected her memoir to be anything less than a beautiful mess of rambling tangents, poetic prose, strongly worded sermons of staunchly held political beliefs, whimsical idolization of folk heroes, lengthy philosophical lectures, occasional easter egg references to specific beloved lyrics from her discography, deeply personal and often painful confessions & memories all while not indulging an inch past what she cared to share, then you don’t know Ani DiFranco at all.

  • Jenny (Reading Envy)

    I read this right away when I received a review copy despite the fact that it isn't due to come out until May. Why? Because I had a huge Ani phase at a very formative period of my life, one that isn't completely over, because here I am writing this review and listening to... Ani. I saw her live in Portland in 1999.

    Ani owns her own record label and can put out more than one album of her own work in any given year. Does she just have that much to say, or is she better at writing than editing? Is i

    I read this right away when I received a review copy despite the fact that it isn't due to come out until May. Why? Because I had a huge Ani phase at a very formative period of my life, one that isn't completely over, because here I am writing this review and listening to... Ani. I saw her live in Portland in 1999.

    Ani owns her own record label and can put out more than one album of her own work in any given year. Does she just have that much to say, or is she better at writing than editing? Is it true that creating and writing words on a page are part of her monthly cycle as she claims? I ask these questions because this book is a bit of a mess. The prose rambles, the stories are often devoid of the context of time, she is very self... motivated in her storytelling, and at the very end she's like, "Oh yeah, this is only the story up until 2001," something that would have been pretty nice to know from the start. It is badly in need of structure, revision, and a greater purpose. (This is when I question how much a book changes once uncorrected proofs are sent out. Could it be that it can be altered significantly in that time period? Here's to hoping!)

    Ani's story that she does tell should be one of triumph! She survives a bizarre childhood of very little parenting in a dying town. She creates her own company rather than dealing with the music multicomplex that everyone else did, and still manages to make it onto the radio, into music festivals, and into music magazine profiles, when music magazines still existed and mattered. She lives her life loving both men and women. She pursues her own sound and look no matter what others think. This should be the story of the year. But none of these ideas ring with the clarity they deserve. It is really a shame.

    As a fan, I wanted to know more about the stories behind certain songs. Sometimes a song's lyrics are added to a section without so much as a preamble or explanation, and that could use some finessing. There are a few song stories in here, for instance how her attraction to a man she wasn't with led to a burst of creative energy, and the way he and his current partner and her current partner found out was when she sang the songs he inspired during a live show. (These are the stories I would have read hundreds of pages of, had they been the driving force of the memoir.)

  • Anna

    This book is at its strongest when DiFranco reflects on her songwriting and touring experiences. It turns EXASPERATING when she decides to go off on weird pseudosciency tangents (not drinking milk for 6 months cleared up HER acne, so she wants to tell people with pimples to go off of dairy because it TOTALLY WORKS????), stuff about the Goddess, and just plain WEIRD shit about periods. Oh, and there are some bits where she talks very strangely about people with disabilities--which, as a person wi

    This book is at its strongest when DiFranco reflects on her songwriting and touring experiences. It turns EXASPERATING when she decides to go off on weird pseudosciency tangents (not drinking milk for 6 months cleared up HER acne, so she wants to tell people with pimples to go off of dairy because it TOTALLY WORKS????), stuff about the Goddess, and just plain WEIRD shit about periods. Oh, and there are some bits where she talks very strangely about people with disabilities--which, as a person with disabilities...slow your roll, Ani. Also, use of the phrase "Chinese fire drill" when she is otherwise very concerned about racism = YIKES

    I'm a huge fan of Ani DiFranco, and parts of this book are wonderful...but some of it was a slog.

  • Katie

    this book....does not have the range.

    if you are interested in ani difranco's work, please allow me to lovingly introduce you to all 30 years of her musical career myself, song by song and album by album. please do NOT start, or even supplement, with this book.

  • Jesse

    I knew Ani had some problematic aspects but I came out of this book liking her much less than when I started. I wish I had just kept to the mix tape playlist she released on Spotify rather than this deeper dive into her life and attitudes.

    This book was rambly and hard to read, but a few things stood out:

    1) she had a number of relationships as a minor and young adult with men significantly older than her but did not really examine that in the book as problematic behavior on their part or potentia

    I knew Ani had some problematic aspects but I came out of this book liking her much less than when I started. I wish I had just kept to the mix tape playlist she released on Spotify rather than this deeper dive into her life and attitudes.

    This book was rambly and hard to read, but a few things stood out:

    1) she had a number of relationships as a minor and young adult with men significantly older than her but did not really examine that in the book as problematic behavior on their part or potentially a source of trauma... which is fine if that is really what she thinks but as a reader it feels jolting and violating.

    2) she’s incredibly essentialist about gender and a TERF sympathizer - sorry Ani - that’s one place you can’t be in or out about.

    3) she doesn’t like her fans very much.

    4) she over catalogs her lovers, even ones she only spent a night or two with, and glosses over what seems like really big moments, like, say, how she became emancipated.

    5) she uses a whole bunch of racist and classist and ableist phrases and attitudes throughout the book. Most cringey is when she compares her hairstyles to people of color she is working with.

    6) shaved head was punk not dyke.

    7) she has a lot of weird prescriptive ideas - like dairy is the only cause of acne and no one should eat dairy - that do not seem based in reality.

    Of course it’s her memoir, her right to write whatever she wants, but it feels like a missed opportunity for self examination that might benefit her and the reader.

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