Friday, January 11, 2013

Coal To Diamonds: A Memoir by Beth Ditto with Michelle Tea

Reviewer: Bob Lind, Echo Magazine
Publisher: Spiegel & Graf, October 2012, 
Pages: 176

Four stars out of five.

Beth Ditto is a feminist, lesbian, overweight advocate of body image acceptance, prospective style and fashion guru, but best known as the lead singer of the indie rock band, Gossip. Her memoir begins with stories of her unique, fractured childhood in rural Arkansas, where she exiled herself from her own home to live with an eccentric aunt and her incest-prone son, until her music became her ticket out to the Pacific Northwest. It was there that she formed the band Gossip, refined their post-punk unique sound, and honed her aggressive stage presence to become an international star of that genre.

The first part of the book includes some rather shocking stories of her life through her teens, where she was a frequent target of abuse and bullying, living in a deeply conservative backwoods, where women and other races were often treated as inferior citizens. It is remarkable how she managed to not just survive in that environment, but actually to use it to take the strength she needed to turn her life around and be a success. Though I am not a fan of her type of music, her story is enough to make me a fan of hers. 

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