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Everything I'm Cracked Up to Be: A Rock & Roll Fairy Tale Paperback – February 5, 2007

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Editorial Reviews

From Publishers Weekly

Trynin takes readers along on her wild ride up and down the cutthroat, fad-driven pop music machine—but her trip is more of a wacky nightmare than a fairy tale. In college, majoring in creative writing, she is thrilled by a band playing "loud and angry and fast." She joins a rock band, playing guitar and singing, and when the cops shut them down, she "never had so much fun." After several years trying to "get out of the Sunday-through-Wednesday-night folk/acoustic-chick-band wasteland and into the rock scene," she decides that if "something really wow isn't happening by the time I'm thirty, I'm done." And something wow does happen. With a self-styled geek-grunge makeover and a new raunchy electric guitar attitude, suddenly Trynin is being courted by entertainment lawyers, managers and major labels. She survives the exhilarating, terrifying, lonely whirlwind by starving herself, smoking, drinking and surreptitiously sleeping with her bass player. Trynin is charming: ingenuous but intelligent, whimsical but savvy. When she's dropped by the heavies as abruptly as she was discovered, it's a relief she has a steady, sensible boyfriend to settle down with, particularly since her passion for rock and roll seems to be more about youthful rebellion than music.
Copyright © Reed Business Information, a division of Reed Elsevier Inc. All rights reserved. --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.

From Bookmarks Magazine

It's been over a decade since Jen Trynin's first album hit the shelves—and maybe time, as well as getting her story down on paper—has healed some wounds. For all the ups and downs of her flirtation with stardom, she shows neither bitterness nor excessive self-regard. In direct, insightful prose she weaves a tale of manipulation, betrayal, and the power of fame's allure. Critics are as charmed by her debut book as they were with her first album. Let's hope, for Trynin's sake, that acclaim isn't a bad omen.

Copyright © 2004 Phillips & Nelson Media, Inc. --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.

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Product Details

  • Paperback: 368 pages
  • Publisher: Mariner Books; Reprint edition (February 5, 2007)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0156032961
  • ISBN-13: 978-0156032964
  • Product Dimensions: 5.2 x 0.8 x 8 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 11.2 ounces
  • Average Customer Review: 4.1 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (35 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #698,048 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

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Customer Reviews

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

11 of 12 people found the following review helpful By Jessica Lux on March 25, 2006
Format: Hardcover
Jen Trynin was an almost-made mid-1990's alternative rock superstar, and her memoir is billed as "what it's like to be catapulted to the edge of stardom, only to plummet back down to earth." As a music fan, I was obsessed with Trynin's contemporaries--Liz Phair, Hole, Nirvana, Aimee Mann, Better than Ezra, Alanis Morisette, the Goo Goo Dolls, and the like--but I don't remember Trynin's radio hit (which is, I suppose, what this book is all about).

Given the premise of a foiled attempt at rock superstardom, I read Trynin's narrative on the edge of my seat. Oh, is hiring this lawyer going to spell her demise? Hmm, is this unfounded loyalty to her backing band going to cause her downfall? Ah-ha--this choice of record label will be her death warrant! Did she not read her contract closely enough? Did she trust the wrong person? Is that rep a back-stabber? Did she screw up her indie cred and lose everything?

The reality behind Trynin's (lack of a) music career is much more subtle, less easy to pin-point, and well-narrated. This is a great story for any child of the 1990's, any musician, or any music fan. Trynin formed her own indie label when that meant having a direct fax line and spending hundreds of dollars on mailing list postage. It's a remarkable contrast to the wired podcast world a decade later, but the issues of dealing with a major label remain the same.

Jen is, above all, accessible. She's skinny in a heroin chic way, but she's terrified that people will discover that she doesn't even know whether heroin is something one snorts or injects. She doesn't know what her image is. She worries about being a "grown woman in a teenager's too tight corduroys.
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6 of 6 people found the following review helpful By Irish Blood English Heart on July 10, 2006
Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
I don't have my TV hooked up to anything besides a DVD player, but whenever I have an opportunity to watch cable, one of my favourite vices is VH1's Behind the Music. Each episode follows a formula: humble beginnings ... rapid ascent to stardom.... and then a downfall predicated by drug use, sex within the band, a mental breakdown or all of the above. In the final 15 minutes of the program, the artist is either eulogized, or, if still alive, redeemed through AA, therapy, or religious conversion. As if in a replay of Icarus, rock gods propel themselves into an intense spotlight only to plunge from the heavens with melted wings, providing solace to people like me who never got signed to a major label and live very ordinary lives.

"All I'm Cracked Up to Be" appears to follow the VH1 formula initially, but with at least one crucial difference. The book's rock and roll casualty, Jen Trynin, never becomes famous, but we get an excruciatingly intimate glimpse of the mechanics behind her tumble from promise. Trynin, a songwriter turned alt-rock frontwoman in the mid-nineties Boston music scene, is led to believe by industry wags that rock and roll stardom is at hand. Instead her hype-laden career whimpers to a halt despite major label backing.

The book humorously and heartbreakingly demonstrates the ill-effects of music commodification on an artist's sense of self. After Trynin grows tired of the "Sunday-to-Wednesday night folk/acoustic-chick-band-wasteland,"she reinvents herself as a rock star, or at least what she thinks one is. She then self-releases a brilliant CD, and a label war of epic proportions ensues.
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5 of 5 people found the following review helpful By doomsdayer520 HALL OF FAME on July 27, 2006
Format: Hardcover
Anyone who knows anything about independent music knows that it's tough on the musicians. I happen to be close friends with several serious hardworking independent musicians who are outstanding talents, and I wish they were all world famous, but we still gotta be realistic. Jen Trynin gives us a pretty enjoyable memoir here, but there's not really too much that's revelatory about it. In a world where there's 10,000 struggling bands for every one superstar, and where trendy untalented saps get rich while serious artists starve, we know that the biz is brutal and everybody gets ripped off by the power players. The biz is known for chewing up and spitting out up-and-comers in the rush for easy profits, and that's kinda like what happened to Jen Trynin, but not quite. The advance descriptions of this book may have you believe that she was badly ripped off, and you might expect an unforgiving report on the slimy underbelly of the music biz. But actually, Trynin was wined and dined by major labels, picked up a lot of hype, was treated reasonably well by the label she signed with, and released two real albums, but the company merely lost interest and dropped her when her career went from hot to cold.

So Trynin's story is less heartbreaking than it is depressingly predictable. It's all surely a good learning experience, and this memoir is usually quite enjoyable as Trynin describes her uphill ride to near-stardom. Her writing isn't too deep but it's frequently funny and sharp-witted. However, when things go downhill and Trynin's career sputters, so does this book. In her increasingly numerous passages about feeling lost and overwhelmed by the biz and its disappointments, Trynin is trying to come across as literary in a dark chick-lit sorta way.
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