So Real It Hurts

Lydia Lunch, the musician, poet and pioneer of the No Wave music genre (that rejected commercial New Wave music) was hailed by the New York Times as "the angriest punk of '70s New York." So Real It Hurts proves that more than 40 years into her career, she's lost none of her blistering anger and astringent eloquence. In his introduction, the late Anthony Bourdain wrote, "During a period that is still considered a golden time for art, music, and transgression, she was always the smartest person in the room."

This slim collection of potent essays, profane rants and astute cultural critiques sometimes reads like the writings of a hypnotic Beat poet. On her insomnia, she writes, "Exhausted, but jacked up, like an electric rigor mortis that short-circuits the neurotransmitters, creating a dense fog of chronic irritation that can cloud even the simplest of tasks." Elsewhere, her opinions are strong and original. Ruminating on war, she opines, "Maybe war is just menstrual envy. If men bled every month as much as I do, maybe they wouldn't have such incredible bloodlust."

Lunch's lacerating autobiographical essays detail her history of sexual and substance abuse and mental health problems. The powerful essay "1967" describes the post-traumatic stress she suffered from the ages of five to eight from the race riots raging outside her front door, as well as the war inside her home "as the favored daughter of a door-to-door salesman who couldn't keep his hands to himself." These take-no-prisoner essays are not for the faint-hearted, but they are confrontational, confessional, electrifying and unforgettable. --Kevin Howell, independent reviewer and marketing consultant

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