by Lauren Ferguson
I first found musician Amanda Palmer when I was on a search for some peppy and upbeat music, and Palmer’s song “Oasis” from her album Who Killed Amanda Palmer popped up. The sarcastic song is an upbeat and doo-wopy anthem about a teenage girl getting an abortion after being raped, all sung by a woman with dyed hair and artistic, drawn on eyebrows. Upon further research, I discovered that Palmer is the queen of social media and was constantly looking for a new way to connect with her fans. In a matter of weeks, I had already spoken to her via Facebook several times, in which she sent nothing but messages of hope and self love. I was absolutely smitten.
In November of this year, singer, songwriter, TED talker, and now author Amanda Palmer released her first book, The Art of Asking. The book is impossible to pigeonhole into a genre, as it’s part memoir, part self help, and part The Velveteen Rabbit excerpts, but it succeeds nonetheless. Palmer is known for her personal relationship with her fans and strong social-media presence, and somehow she communicates that same personal relationship into her book. It felt like my best friend was sitting there telling me her story, and I was there to laugh and cry along with her. Her tone and writing style is incredibly intimate, and that is exactly what makes the book so lovely. By tearing herself open and sharing herself, the reader becomes so much closer to the author and the work itself.
Palmer’s main message of the Art of Asking is just that: Don’t be afraid to ask for help! So often in our culture one is perceived weak when they can’t accomplish something entirely on their own, but, as Palmer points out, living without help is exhausting. Palmer promotes the idea of giving when you can, asking when you need it, and never to beg. The message is so important to hear for many of us, whetherstruggling with school, hating our jobs, or just in a need of a hug. Palmer stresses the importance of genuine human connection when it comes to asking through her own stories of frienship. The message is important, and, even if some of don’t realize it, something we all really need to hear.
Furthermore, Palmer’s writing itself is excellent. Many celebrity autobiographies are obviously ghostwritten or contain the rhetoric of a high school English class, but Palmer’s personal sense of communication translates in the book along with her beautiful writing style. One of her most famous lyrics from her song “Ukulele Anthem,” is “stop pretending art is hard.” As seen in her book, Palmer heavily promotes the idea of not denying oneself the healing power of art because of the lie that it’s hard to create. Writing can be difficult, but Palmer seems to have a firm grasp on crafting it as an art. The writing and the message are poignant and function together as a way to complete Palmer’s ultimate goal: to connect with her fans.
The book’s message is one that I, and probably many others, need to hear. This beautiful book goes above and beyond the mediocre music memoir – it’s an old friend telling you much needed advice.