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Ani DiFranco

No Walls and the Recurring Dream

Published by Viking

Jul 02, 2019 Web Exclusive Bookmark and Share

With No Walls and the Recurring Dream, feminist icon and folk troubadour Ani DiFranco presents an unvarnished look at her life and art. In honest prose, she discusses her childhood through her emancipation as a minor, her time in New York and the beginnings of her Righteous Babe record label, her burgeoning musical career, and the highs and lows that would follow.

What makes No Walls most captivating, however, is the degree to which it bares the soul of who Ani DiFranco truly is. Far from a recitation of facts or anecdotes from the life of a remarkable artist, DiFranco’s memoir instead provides insight into her core values, the philosophies that drive her, and the personal history that led to such deeply held beliefs. In presenting these, she pulls no punches. Her feminist ideology is laid bare. Her activist work and political stances are presented in straight talk. Her musical motivations are illuminated. And DiFranco presents it all with an introspective eye and a clarity of self-examination that is refreshing in the genre of musicians’ memoirs.

Of course, DiFranco is more than simply a musician, and this is made readily apparent. While she doesn’t gloss over her musical history, for much of the book it seems to take a back seat to her presentation of self.

Toward the book’s end, which wraps things up in approximately the early 2000s, DiFranco acknowledges, “I only ever intended this book to be a ‘making of’ story.” But as such, No Walls takes one deep into the early history, psyche, and motivation of one of music’s most original and inspiring voices. If she ever decides to write Volume 2, it will be more than welcome.

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Author rating: 7/10

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