Read: New Alina Simone Book

 

You
Must Go and Win, published by Faber & Faber, is part-memoir and
part-roadmap to the underground music world – and a remarkable literary debut.
Check out our interview with Simone right here.

 

By John Schacht

Anyone who’s chatted with singer Alina Simone at her gigs won’t
be surprised by the strength of her first foray into the book world. Simone has
the gift of gab, and You Must Go and Win‘s
conversational tone captures her humor, vivacity and intelligence in an
engaging and honest look at an indie musician’s life. Part-memoir and
part-roadmap to the underground music world, the book has an added advantage in
that its subject’s life is not typical. Simone’s scientist parents escaped
Soviet blacklisting in the Ukraine
before emigrating with young Alina, a gift with a shadow that hangs over their comparatively
rudderless daughter. (Simone titled her second LP Placelessness.)

 

Written with clutter-free concision, Simone’s search for meaning
reads pithy and often laugh-out-loud funny. She navigates the signpost-free
indie circuit and a warren of flea-ridden apartments in the overpriced hipster’s
haven Brooklyn. She travels the U.S. videoing her
performance artist pal Amanda Palmer for a documentary that never materializes,
and survives car crashes, rampant machismo and vegetarian-unfriendly Italian
tours. 

 

But Simone’s story pivots on Mother Russia. She becomes
obsessed with the Siberia of her hero – and inspiration for her Russian
language covers record, Everyone is
Crying Out to Me, Beware –
folk punk icon Yana Dyagileva, and among other
adventures winds up baptized into the Eastern Orthodox church. She notes that
the mongrel congregation is really “no different from the passengers on a
typical crosstown G train,” and it’s epiphanies like that that lift this above
the average musician memoir.

 

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