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Diamond in the Rough: A Memoir Paperback – July 30, 2013
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“[Colvin is] a gifted conversational writer with a wicked and unabashedly goofy sense of humor ... Her buoyant spirit fairly leaps off the stage, and her self-deprecating wit is as keen and quirky in recalling her brief brush with superstardom as it is applied to an ill-fated relationship.” (USA Today)
“Colvin’s fans will devour her behind-the-scenes stories; single mothers will relate to her struggle to do right by her child. And those who have suffered depression -- or loved someone who has -- will find much to inspire in this compelling redemption story.” (People)
“Charming . . . Colvin chronicles an impressive array of accompanists and backup, two husbands, and myriad awards such as her gold record with the 1997 hit “Sunny Came Home,” all while maintaining a low-key, sweet humility that is truly endearing.” (Publishers Weekly)
“Dspite the many personal disasters that have beset Colvin, DIAMOND IN THE ROUGH is no misery-fest. It’s with an impressive absence of self-pity and a dry, unassuming style that she teases humour out of the most unpalatable episodes . . . Absorbing.” (The Independent on Sunday)
“Engaging . . . .The many admirers of Colvin’s music will appreciate this honest memoir.” (Booklist)
About the Author
Shawn Colvin is a singer-songwriter and musician. She began performing in bands in the late 1970s, and after years of polishing her skills in Austin, Texas, and the New York folk scene, Colvin released her debut album Steady On in 1989, earning a Grammy Award for Best Contemporary Folk Album. Her breakthrough success was the album A Few Small Repairs in 1996, featuring the song "Sunny Came Home," a top-ten hit that won Grammys for Record of the Year and Song of the Year. Colvin has released ten albums, won three Grammy Awards, and been nominated for seven others.
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Top customer reviews
Shawn Colvin first came to my attention in 1990 while I was watching an MTV (or was it VH1?) special on Suzanne Vega and girl folkies. I purchased "Steady On," an absolutely remarkable debut record which won a Grammy for Best Contemporary Folk Album in 1991. I later caught Shawn in concert at a cozy little tavern in Toronto in the winter of 1992 performing songs from her very good follow-up album, Fat City. Shawn hit the big time when she won Grammys for Song of the Year and Record of the Year for "Sunny Came Home" from her 1996 A Few Small Repairs album. While she hasn't had a comparable commercial success since then (you won't find Shawn's style of music on the radio any longer) she continues on as a remarkable artist, delighting her fans with a new record about every five or six years.
Colvin followers will definitely enjoy this short but informative and sometimes brutally honest auto-biography.
I usually don't read autobiography, but I finished the book in two evenings and I'm sad it's over. It 's a very honest, unsparing, touching memoir. I found myself identifying with so much, the way you do with any of her songs. And then she's so funny; I laughed out loud. You get the sense that she's really putting herself out there. As an anonymous fan, I feel like we almost don't deserve to be let in quite so completely. Yet it certainly gave me something of value to read this.
I'm sending copies to friends.
And for the record, I thought Brand New You was brilliant.
To the extent that Shawn's work needs to be deciphered, "Diamond in the Rough" is the Rosetta Stone. It fills in blanks; it confirms suspicions; it debunks myths. It is the book I've been waiting to read since 1989 (at least as much as Pete Townsend's memoir was the book I've been waiting to read since I was 8 years old) and, generally, does not disappoint. To the true fan, it is a gracious reward for the wait. It is at turns gritty and lyrical, and paints a dynamic portrait of the artist as a neurotic vagabond with the strongest (if not most visible) of ties to kith and kin. It is a cautionary tale of success ensnared within a jungle of personal demons and crises of trust - both of self and others. To its credit, the book does not end in a touchdown dance and a final "all clear". We leave with the sense that each day is truly a new challenge without guarantee of success or permanent happiness. This is the artist's true gift to us - life as process in a world that desperately clings to the possibility of happily ever after.
That said, I felt that the narrative's pace was uneven. The first half of the book covers much ground and effectively draws the reader in. Shawn is careful to avoid assuming too much about what we know and we get a clear picture of the events of her life - and an even clearer picture of her thoughts and feelings at those moments. Her rendering of early family life is touching and does much to explain why she did not slide off the deep end at her most vulnerable moments. Her frank discussion of her depression and substance addictions launches beyond merely satisfying the fan's voyeuristic need to "see it all" - it is brave and potentially life-saving to readers facing similar crises. At first blush, her announced "betrayal" of the 12 Steps creed seems self-serving. By the end of the book, however, one realizes that it is necessary to both understand Shawn's journey and draw strength and inspiration from it. It is the self-reflexive response to Shawn's "If I Were Brave": If?
But the second half of the book seems a bit rushed. The details don't seem so much organic to the narrative as they are an outline of events and thoughts since '98. Perhaps it is the pitfall of a fan's take on such a work (greedy for every thought and every impression), but it seems as though Shawn reached a boiling point with the manuscript and needed to end it. I can only imagine what sort of emotional weight this project must have been for her - cathartic and liberating, yet the autobiographical equivalent of watching your own car crash on television repeatedly. As such, it is hard to know whether this "criticism" is genuine and objective, or the by-product of someone who wishes the book read more like a ten-hour, no-holds-barred intimate q&a with Shawn Colvin. Like most things, I believe it to be a blending of both. Not surprisingly, and quite presumptually (?), I would love to read a sequel some day.
If you're a Shawn Colvin fan, I don't have to tell you that (a) you should read this book and (b) you will enjoy this book. If you are arriving at this book from another vantage point (i.e. - fan of music, personal narrative, addiction and mental health, etc.), you will find this to be a highly readable, very candid acount of one artist's continuing journey "through it all" and be enriched for the experience.
What i really like about this book is the raw honesty with which Shawn writes of her life. She admits all the imperfections and mistakes that got her in trouble at times, the strength she showed over and over again to bounce back and survive. Being a poet, I could empathize with much of the
artist's tribulations she discusses in "Diamond in the Rough." But reading this book makes me appreciate her music even more than I did before, and I already was a big fan of her folk/ confessional style of writing and playing her songs. She is certainly a poet as well as a wonderful singer and musician.
jacob erin-cilberto (author of Demolitions and Reconstructions)
An added bonus which wouldn't appear so readily in her records is her charming self-deprecation. My only quibble with the book is its brevity, but it is a most engaging read, to be devoured in a sitting.
Most recent customer reviews
Makes you want to listen to the music of hers that I knew previously and that that I was...Read more