Hunger Makes Me a Modern Girl is a document of self-actualization. These days, most people likely know of author Carrie Brownstein from Portlandia, her creepily-accurate Portland parody sketch show, and might actually be taken aback by how seriously she takes her music criticism. After all, she maintained a music column on NPR for three years. But Brownstein made a name for herself in the Pacific Northwest’s underground punk scenes as vocalist and guitarist in Sleater-Kinney, and she has a trapdoor, detailed memory for chronicling the years her band was evolving from local phenom to national icons.
It’s hard to extricate Brownstein’s book title from the song that inspired it, off their seventh and final album The Woods. On “Modern Girl,” she sings lead with her signature incredulity, emphasizing the consonants so its sarcasm resonates: “My whole life... is like a picture of a sunny day.” The prose has similar bite with Brownstein’s ability to analyze aspects of her own life with at arm’s length, but there’s never a disconnect—even on difficult topics like her father coming out as gay later in his life, or her mother’s anorexia.