Grace is, as advertised, Grace Coddington’s memoir. She is a hoot, and this is a fun story of a person who loves clothes and fashion and art practicing her craft throughout the mid- to late- twentieth century. She certainly sounds like a lively person to be around and being in the fashion world during that time seems like a hoot.
Unfortunately, I only got through about half of this book because, while she seems like a great person who is full of enthusiasm, the story got a bit repetitive (she’s in London! no Paris! now London again!) and it was more name-droppy than I would have liked. Don’t get me wrong, she’s just talking about her friends, but a little bit less of making sure we know she knows these people and more about fashion in the 1960s and beyond would have been better. It was eventually tiresome.
What’s it about? Girl in a Band is about Kim Gordon’s life. Who’s Kim Gordon? She was the bassist for Sonic Youth, but the book doesn’t talk a huge amount about Sonic Youth. It’s about her childhood in Los Angeles; her years as a visual artist in 1980s NYC; it covers a bit about her marriage and the band and how some of the main albums were created.
Why should you read it?
Because Kim Gordon has her shit together. She is cooler than you because she has lived and spent time figuring things out: what kind of artist she wanted to be, what kind of parent she wanted to be, what was best for her. Reflecting on the book, I also think writing this might have been a way for her to define herself outside Sonic Youth and her marriage (since she is recently divorced). Who is Kim Gordon if she isn’t Sonic Youth? To clarify: the first draft might have been uncertain. The version that I read wasn’t. She has a clear sense of who she is and what she thinks and she is communicating that to you.